A host of new changes took effect on the bus lines of the Metropolitan Transit System on January 28th. Several routes were eliminated, with MTS noting in a monthly bulletin that you could still get there from here, only differently. Eight routes were said to be streamlined in what the La Prensa newspaper reported as improvements to something called the “high-frequency bus network.”
Some people — notably riders of a major trunk route, the 929, which leaves the East Village as late as 2:01 a.m. and heads south to the Iris Avenue station for a connection to San Ysidro — did not get the memo.
On Tuesday (February 6th) at 1:05 a.m., passengers waited at the 12th and Imperial Transit Center at the usual perch for the southbound 929. And why not? Just above their heads, the electronic sign looked the same as usual: now posting the 1:01 a.m. bus to Iris Avenue via Highland Avenue through National City and Third Avenue through Chula Vista was “due.”
It just didn't say where. And nowhere could one find a sign that said anything to contradict the notion that the 929 would stop at 12th and Imperial, as usual, where it's been stopping for ages. But when the 929 did glide to a stop, it was a far piece from where they sat. A few hardy souls sprinted in that direction and a couple of them managed to climb aboard before the conveyance huffed off. Others in the mad dash, myself included, stopped and watched the bus depart, knowing there wouldn't be another for a whole hour: the 2:01 a.m. 929 to Iris.
“This is fucked up, man,” said one short-distance runner who missed the bus. “I'm calling this in to them first thing tomorrow.”
He was debating how much he should spend on a cab (three of them were parked nearby), and he strolled back to the trolley station at 12th and Imperial to report to the assembled would-be 929 riders not only that the last run of the night was an hour away, they were still waiting in the wrong place.
Asked their reaction, he shrugged and said, “They didn't believe me.”
He got into a cab and was gone. Meanwhile, a man on a bicycle, who volunteered that he “hustled” for a living and who also waited errantly at 12th and Imperial for the now-departed 1:01 a.m. bus to San Ysidro and on into Tijuana, said he still was not certain where the next 929 would show up, so he was going to wait it out halfway between the boarding area at 12th and Imperial and the bright new benches — below a bus-stop sign for the 929 south — over on National. “That way, I can make it either way,” he said.
When the few hangers-on got the last 929 out of the East Village, the driver was told of the disconnect. He pointed out that the change had been published in the current change-of-service bulletin and widely distributed throughout the transit system, including in bundles attached by plastic ties to poles on the buses. “See?” he said, gesturing down the bus. All the flyers were gone.
(By the way, the 929 location change coincided with a terminus change: no longer would the route continue on to City College and back, it would stop and start at 13th and National.)
Later, taking yet another bus ride on route 929, your reporter dutifully looked for service bulletins hanging from poles. The bus was chock full of them, but no bulletins. Had the patrons scooped them up?