JMCM (Jaunty Riding Cap Man) - A man with a cool hat and a penchant for finding sinister meanings in innocent statements.
Muffin Man - A mildly schizophrenic fellow who has trouble keeping track of his pastries.
Boo County - The county where I live and work.
County Center - A place in O Town where most county government offices are located.
Transient Center - (AKA: TC). The hub of public transportation in downtown C Town. P and O Towns also have their own transit centers, which are really kind of a joke. If I need to refer to these lesser TCs, I will attach a P or an O as needed).
JC - A faith-based center for the down-and-out. They provide free meals, showers and other goods and services. Not coincidentally, it shares its initials with its favorite religious personage.
HS - C Town's secular shelter for the homeless. As homeless shelters go, this one's pretty nice (though I have not had the pleasure of staying there). A dear friend of mine used to work there and is still on their board of directors. Guests are not allowed allowed to hang out inside or on the grounds from between breakfast and check-in, which is from 4:30 to 6:00 PM.
ORM - O Town's rescue mission, a faith-based shelter for the homeless. Provides meals and beds in exchange for required attendance of daily preachings of God's word in an attempt to save some souls. Like the C Town HS, guests may not hang out there during the day. For obvious reasons, many of Boo County's homeless prefer C Town's HS.
Boo County Towns and Cities - Boo County has only a few cities and towns, most of which factor into this blog since the Boo Line serves them. They are as follows (in order from largest to smallest) And just by the by, the letters for these towns have NOTHING to do with the first letters of their actual names, so don't be trying to figure out what they are, you hear?
C Town: A college town and the location of the headquarters of the Boo Line. Also my town of residence.
O Town: The seat of Boo County. Rather poverty-stricken. Not the place where Rocko lives his modern life.
P Town: A mountain town.
M Town: Sort of an exclave of P Town, and decidedly more hillbillyish. For some reason P and M Town are popular with retirees, which is just as well, since there is no work to be had up there.It seems like everyone in P and M (at least the ones who ride the Boo Line) is either senile, developmentally disabled or stoned on either prescription medications and/or recreational drugs.
G Town: A modestly sized, primarily agricultural town in the deep south of Boo County.
D Town: A very small, exclusively agricultural town about five miles south of C Town. Very popular with college professors who want to live on a farm but not sully their educated hands.
B Town: An extremely small, extremely agricultural town about three miles from G Town. Unlike M Town, it has its own city government, but it shares a police force with G Town.
T Place - An unincorporated enclave of O Town, a place where you go when you go when you've fucked up in O Town once too often.
Smelly Ridge - A retirement community in the hills above O Town. It has have a golf course and overlooks the lake. Despite these attributes, it's a weird mixture of very expensive houses and tacky mobile homes.
Other P Town (OP Town): A neighbor of O Town, named after a famous place in Sicily, presumably because olives are grown in both locations. I can see no earthly reason why this place exists.
Boo Line has many routes, both local and regional, to better serve the residents of Boo County (don't try to crack the indecipherable code I used to hide their true identities):
Local C Town Routes:
B - Serves Rhizophora Avenue, Old Mall, Social Security, parole, and Behavioral Health and a signicant medical center. A very popular and cheerful route. Sometimes it turns into Route G (see below), just to confuse the fuck out of everyone.
C - Serves western C Town, a physical rehabilitation center, Old Mall, and (coming soon!) a large, low-income apartment complex. When it reaches the apex of its outbound run at Old Mall it turns into the D inbound (see below). Very confusing, even for drivers (especially new ones).
D - Serves the mid-eastern portion of C Town, including several schools - (elementary through high school) and Old Mall. Not a fun route if you don't like children. When its outbound run reaches Old Mall, it turns into the C inbound (see above). Also very confusing for some.
E - Serves south-eastern C Town, including New Mall, Wal-Mart (no reason to hide that identity, since every stinking town in the U.S. has one) and other major shopping centers. Despite that, it is probably the least busy and easiest (and, to my mind, most boring) route in our arsenal. There are a couple of reasons it remains relatively unimpacted: 1) the bus public is oddly fixated on the idea that Route Oh South (see below) is either the only or the best way to get to the holy land of shopping, even though Oh is often the latest-running of all routes because it's so damned crowded); 2); the neighborhoods through which it passes on its journeys betwixt downtown and the blessed land of retail are the sort whose residents don't much need public transportation (except for a few well-to-do foreign exchange students who live in very nice apartment complexes but don't drive). E is highly coveted by senior drivers when bidding time comes around.
G - Serves the far-eastern and north-eastern areas of town, from the land of holy shopping to its connecting point with routes B (see above) and Oh North (see below). A strangely orphaned route, it is the only one in C Town which doesn't visit the Transient Center, except when it turns into Route B (see above).
H and I - The two "shuttles" for lazy college students. I say "lazy" because the shuttles serve the student-heavy neighborhoods near the college. As in, so near you could easily bike or walk to the campus. THAT'S WHY THEY BECAME STUDENT NEIGHBORHOODS IN THE FIRST PLACE! WHY DO THEY NEED A FUCKING BUS? Sorry...I have strong opinions on this subject. In fairness, I should say that Route H does serve an area of massive student apartment complexes which is a little too far for biking or walking. The kicker is that the Route C serves the exact same area. So, again, why do they need a separate shuttle? The Route I is actually divided into two portions - a southern loop to an overwhelmingly studenty neighborhood which is dominated by one huge and infamous apartment complex whose nickname is the same as a garden or park where wild animals are kept for exhibition, and a northern portion populated half by students and about half by the poorer residents of C Town.The general public is also allowed to use the student shuttles, but unfortunately for the general public, the student shuttles only run when the college is in session. There is no student shuttle on weekends, during the summer, spring and winter breaks, nor on any holidays observed by the college (which aren't also observed by the Boo Line). There is also no service after 4 PM on Fridays (a fact that the general public never seems to be able to wrap its head around). Complaints about this from certain lazier members of the general public lead to the unfortunate creation of...
Ic -The Ic runs on a limited basis whenever the regular student shuttles aren't running. For my purposes, the "c" stands for "citizen", which, for my purposes, means any non-student who uses the student shuttles. I've never been sure what exactly it's supposed to stand for, but my best guess is that it stands for the first letter of a principal street in the northern loop of the I. As it happens, I live on this street. Why do I happen to live there? Because I'm poor. Because I'm a bus driver.
O (hereinafter called "Oh" for distinction from the numeral "zero" ) - The king-hell big kahuna of all routes, one dreaded by most drivers and a killer of souls. It is further divided into Oh North and Oh South. Not so very long ago, some smart out-of-town route planners were paid big bucks by the Transit Authority to revamp our routes. From this unholy alliance sprang the original Oh, which basically combined three previously separate routes into one overly-ambitious monster. The idea was that the Oh would serve the most popular stops across the widest cross-section of town without a rider having to transfer. To prevent late buses due to over-crowding, buses were supposed to depart from stops every fifteen minutes during peak times. To complicate matters further, the north loop was actually divided into two separate lobes, one like the current, and one which continued up the Promenade to its terminus at the local state highway on the far north end of town. Every other run of the Oh North was supposed to go on one lobe and alternate ones on the other lobe. And the Oh South was not immune to confusing route changes - on some runs it would make a diversion to serve the center for developmentally disabled adults who work. As you can probably guess, the new Oh was an unmitigated disaster. Even with buses running every fifteen minutes, buses got so backed up that sometimes all four buses in an hour ended up one behind the other in the same location. I think one reason it didn't work was unfamiliarity with such a concept on the part of the public on one hand. Plus, if you have one route running every quarter hour, but all the other local routes running every hour or half-hour (and regionals departing every one or two hours), of course people are going to try to pile onto the bus that's scheduled to get them to their connections. Within about 6 months the Transit Authority had to overhaul the new Oh. They separated the former two lobes of the Oh North into separate routes (see "P" below). They also dropped just one of those brilliant quarter-hour departures. Now buses leave every 20 minutes at peak times. These two simple acts vastly improved on-time performance on the Oh.
Oh North - Travels up the beautiful but stressful Promenade and visits such happy places as the Social Security office and the parole office - popular destinations, especially with people from O Town. A rider of the north loop can continue on the south loop without a transfer, and vice versa.
Oh South - The real fun one. In addition to all the shopping, it also serves the JC (see above) and the Community Employment Center (AKA: "welfare", AKA: "the unemployment office". A rider of the south loop can continue on the north loop without a transfer, and vice versa.
P - A mutated cousin of the Oh North (see "O" above). This was the former far-northern lobe of the original Oh North. Over much of their routes, the Oh North and the P are identical, which seems silly, but it's better than the old Oh. After many complaints from riders, the TA also added back to the P a portion of the one of the older routes (that Oh replaced) which they had cut out, being generally clueless as the real needs and wants of the public they profess to serve. The P runs once an hour only, it turns into the Oh South when it gets to the TC. Riders on the former don't need a transfer to continue on the latter. By the same token, riders of the O South which turns into the P at the TC don't need a transfer. However, if for some dumb reason they wanted to wait for the next Oh North, then they would need a transfer. See? It's easy!
The Shelter Run - A free, semi-secret shuttle (it's not listed in the schedule) between the HS and the JC, twice daily for guests of the HS, provided by an arrangement between the HS, JC and the TA. Yes, that's right: in C Town, the homeless get free bus rides.
Local O Town Routes. O Town is much smaller than C Town. It needs only four routes, and only two buses to cover those four routes. Here's how it works (such as it is):
X - Serves T Place (see above) and various fun departments of county government, such as superior court, behavioral health, probation, juvenile hall, jail, sheriff's office, and welfare. X turns into AA at the OTC.
Y - Serves the central portion of O Town as well as the gorram Wal-Mart and the local cine-plex. Y turns into Z at the OTC.
Z - Mainly exists to serve one of the two Native American casinos which O Town boasts, as well as the central portion of (dun dun dunnnn)...South Side! (no need to disguise that name since many towns and cities have one). On even hours it also serves Smelly Ridge; on odd hours it visits a north eastern corner of the town. Z turns into Y at the OTC.
AA (here's where the code starts to get really tricky!) - Serves even more of South Side and other southern neighborhoods of O Town, where poverty, crime and drugs are rife (even rifer than the rest of O Town at large). AA turns into X at the OTC.
Regional Routes (with the cities they serve, duh!):
CO - C and O Towns. The big boogeyman for most drivers, on a par with C Town's Route Oh. While the riders of the local O Town routes are for the most part pleasant and grateful to have public transit, it's the people who go betwixt O and C who are the real troublemakers. Rents are cheaper in O Town, so many poor people live there. It's also the seat of county government, and a lot of them like to live near the services available there, regardless of whether or not they really want those services (jail, court, probation, etc.). But they also have to come to C Town for things not available in O Town, such as the state parole office and the methadone clinic (no shit).
OBG - O, B and G Towns as well as Other P Town. Also serves the second of O Town's Native American casinos. You know, we wouldn't want anyone to have to blow their welfare payments at just one of them. That would be discriminatory. Runs three times on weekdays, but curiously four times on Saturdays.
OP - O and P Towns. Runs only twice a weekday - down the hill in the morning, and up in the evening. Designed mainly for people who live in P Town and work in O Town, who need a more direct route between the two rather than having to transfer in C Town. Also serves the local community college upon request.
BGC - B, G and C Towns. Yes, even though B Town is about the size of a postage stamp, the TA figured it needed two separate regional routes. Runs only twice a weekday.
PC - P and C Towns.
MC - M and C Towns (and portions of P Town). I shudder just writing those words. For my money, this is the gorram worst route any one can get. I don't even want to talk about it right now.
PH - P Town Hospital. P Town doesn't have local routes of its own, with the exception of this oddity, which the TA lumps in with the regionals in the schedule brochure. It only runs three times on weekdays, and is mainly designed to serve the local hospital, which is far off the track of the real regional routes which ply these mountain roads. Ridership is so small that one of the local para-transit vans is pressed into temporary service as a fixed-route vehicle.
Boo Line - The transit system for which I drive.
Outbound/Inbound - For most intents and purposes, a bus leaving the TC is outbound, and a bus going from the far point of its loop back to the TC is inbound. Makes sense, right? This is easy enough to keep in mind when dealing with local routes, including those interacting with the OTC. Where it starts to get a little confusing is when talking about regional routes. If the bus goes between C Town and another town, it is considered outbound, since apparently C Town is considered the alpha and the omega of all things transportation related. So, a regional bus leaving the OTC or PTC for C Town is inbound, even though it is leaving a "foreign" TC. Where it gets more confusing is when you're dealing with routes that don't go to the TC, such as the G or the OP (see below). For the most part, the TA gets around this by identifying inbound and outbound buses by the cardinal direction they are going (northbound or southbound). They drop the ball, however, when dealing with the infamous Oh North and South (see below) - they call the north loop "Northbound" and the south loop "Southbound". Okay, fine - until you consider that the loop is only actually north or south bound until it reaches the turn-around point, and then it's going the other direction. The TA tries to clarify this by adding "in" and "out" in parentheses, which to my mind only muddies the situation more. That's probably a moot point, because most bus people don't bother to read the schedule anyway.
TA - Our local transit authority, the organization that actually owns the buses and plans the routes. They are separate from my employer Aeolus (see below), a contractor hired to take care of such mundane tasks as hiring and training drivers and providing maintenance on the buses.
Aeolus - The Greek god of wind, and the founder of my Cratchit-like feast.
Time Stop - It may come as a surprise to the uninitiated, but not all bus stops have a specific time at which the bus is supposed to depart. If they did, schedules would be the size of large city telephone directories, and such a system would be nigh unto impossible to maintain. Stops that do have a stated time of departure are called, simply enough, "time stops". Note the use of the word "departure", as opposed to "arrival" - a bus can arrive early, but should never depart early from a time stop, for reasons that should be obvious. What's that you say, it's not obvious? Okay, imagine the bus driver departs before the stated time. Well, any would-be passenger who might come to the stop "on time" (that is before the stated departure time) has missed their bus through no fault of their own..