Last month, I went to visit Redbird in Seattle. I was going to visit Redbird, not Seattle as such, and certainly not to explore public transit in the Seattle area, but I still noticed some nice things about the transit system. And one impressive thing that probably isn't about the system.
There were only 3 passengers on the bus when it turned the corner in the big medical complex where Redbird had a doctor's appointment. The woman near the front stood partway up and turned to look out the window, and fell backwards. I couldn't tell if the hollow thunk
was the impact of her wooden cane, her elbow against a hollow section of bus floor, or her skull hitting something solid.*
It was a scary moment. I reached to help, but (obviously) by the time I saw her falling it was already too late to catch her. She was frightened and confused and struggling to get up without her cane. She was clearly embarrassed as well as shocked and hurt. I've felt that kind of "oh, just go away and pretend this never happened" after any number of falls and head-bonks. Oursin described something similar with a minor accident:http://oursin.dreamwidth.org/1945010.html
The bus driver impressed me. He didn't just stop the bus, let me help the other passenger up, and go on his way when he heard her say something like "it's ok." That's kind of what I expected would happen when Redbird called out for him to stop the bus. He didn't just park the bus, go back to help the passenger up, and sit across from her talking quietly and paying close attention to her while she got her bearings. I don't know if that's how King County Metro teaches their staff to respond to possible concussions, or if one driver was going beyond the call of duty. Then the driver went back to driving the bus, and I sat with the person who had fallen, and we talked for a few minutes (agreeing that falling is scary and upsetting.)
When the bus reached the next stop, the driver impressed me by getting out with the passenger who had fallen, and walking into the building with her. She had already been taking the bus to a doctor's appointment, so there wasn't the usual question of whether to see a doctor after falling...but that last little bit of getting there safely was still important.
I tried to tell King County Metro that one of their drivers had done especially good work that day, but had trouble with their online feedback form. Redbird was able to file a commendation the next day, and was told her letter had been shown to the driver and his supervisor, and would become part of the driver's permanent record.
Memorable work ought to be part of his permanent record. Whether we're thinking "what great first aid practice!" or "how considerate of him!" (or possibly "what an intrusive jerk! why didn't he just leave her alone?") I'm happy about the transit system tracking this kind of thing.
When I went to report the incident, the feedback form asked me about the bus route and time of day. I couldn't tell them the number of the bus (the specific identifier for that vehicle, rather than any of the other buses covering that route) or the driver's name. Redbird was able to figure out the bus number, because it turns out that information is tracked--her transit pass doesn't just say it was charged $2.50 at thus-and-so time, it says it was charged $2.50 on bus #whatever at thus-and-so time.
I feel vaguely uncomfortable about the cards tracking location. I know this is not actually a significant increment of lost privacy. Still, increments of perceptible discomfort do not track linearly with significant increments of threat.
*I've had falls where I never did figure out if my head hit the ground on the way down.