This is a work of fiction. Any names used here are fictional, however I’m telling this from a point of view as if it were me. The places are real, however some areas are fictional.
I walked from the subway feeling unfairly defeated. The smell of the subway changed into a scent of cinnamon sugar pretzels as I walked past an Auntie Anne’s in the concourse leading into the Port Authority Bus Terminal. I proceeded to head to Gate 202, where the 8:30 159R bus would be waiting. I checked the time on the touchscreen departure board and saw that it was 8:25. I walked to the gate as if I was early. I didn’t really care if I missed it though, as the only thing on my mind was the disbelief that something so insignificant could cause such a problem for my work life. I am a Transportation Planner for the MTA New York City Transit’s bus planning division. My team and I were working on a project designed to bring Bus Rapid Transit to Tremont Avenue in the Bronx. The two existing bus routes, the Bx40 and Bx42 were the source of complaints as the buses took too long to get from Throgs Neck to University Heights due to crowding conditions, you know people taking too long to pay their fare and what not. My department supervisor, Brad Herman, a 46 year old guy who was nice to you as long as you didn’t cross him, was instructed by the top brass to figure out a solution so he tasked us to help him do it. We all decided that the MTA’s infamous ‘Select Bus Service’ as they dubbed it would be the best idea for the route. So we put the gears in motion and had the plan on lock. We met with elected officials in the areas served by the buses to discuss the plan before finalizing it.While they hadn’t officially supported it, most of them agreed, all except for one, Rep. Tammy Hawkins (R) of Silver Beach in the southernmost portion of Throgs Neck. Hawkins was what I believed to be a 59-year old woman with white gray hair. She spoke in an uppity tone, like the type you’d hear from snobby rich people. She argued that there was ‘no need for all of this Select Bus nonsense’ because her immediate area was mainly car-centric. When she said that every elected official and planner in the room looked at each other bewildered. We all tried to explain to her that just because her district is car-centric doesn’t mean that those who don’t own cars should lose out. Unmoved by the argument, she declined to support the project immediately. That left us having to suspend the project.
Even though I walked to the gate, I still managed to make it to the bus on time. I boarded the articulated bus and that distinct bus smell, like a new piece of equipment fresh out of the box, hit me immediately. I showed the bus driver my bus pass and sat down in the trailer portion behind the articulation. The driver the shut the doors in the front and cut off the cabin lights. The next stop display near the front doors illuminated the front portion of the bus with the display reading “LINCOLN HARBOR”. I tried to fall asleep, but the anger from absurdity of Rep. Hawkins’ comment kept me awake. Luckily my ride was only 20 minutes. As the bus cruised through the Lincoln Tunnel, I took out my phone and debated texting my wife Rosa to see if she was going to drive to the front of the complex to pick me up from the bus stop. I decided against it as I assumed she may be bathing and preparing Momo, our 11-month old son, for bed. I figured since it was 71 degrees outside I could use the walk. As the LED sign at the front of the bus read “N PARK CT”, I pressed the stop request button, which promptly changed the front sign to read “STOP REQUESTED”, gathered my things together and disembarked from the back doors of the bus. I walked through the complex breathing in the air from the Hudson River and hearing the combination of the cars on Port Imperial Blvd here in West New York, NJ and the NY Waterway ferries tooting their horns signalling their arrival from Wall Street. When I arrived at our townhome, I walked up the stairs leading to the front door, grabbed my keys and opened the door. Inside, the downstairs lights were off, as I thought they would be. Upstairs though, I heard Rosa singing a song in Spanish to Momo. I walked upstairs to find her sitting in bed with Momo in her arms, eyes heavy. Rosa’s golden olive skin shined in the lamp’s light.I walked over to her and kissed her on the lips. She asked me “how did your meeting go?” I sighed and said “Can I explain it after Momo’s fully asleep? I don’t wanna get all wound up and make it harder for you to put him to sleep.” “Okay, now I really wanna know what happened.” she replied interested. “Well, basically many of the folks we sat down with today said they’ll wait until they hold town halls before they officially support the plan, but they’re optimistic about it anyway.” I told her. “If they like it, then what’s the problem?” she asked me. “Tammy Fucking Hawkins is the problem. She said some bullshit today talking bout ‘there’s no need for Select Bus Service because my district is car-centric’ before she said flat out told us she’s going to oppose the plan at every turn. And since we don’t have any official political backing, we can’t move forward with it.” I told her in a frustrated tone.
To be continued……