Tuesday, January 29, 2008

4 crashes, 7 buses, 58 wounded

Yesterday was not a good day to take the bus, as Clarín notes.

Why so many crashes lately? To paraphrase a man who has studied the issue: January is especially dangerous because fewer traffic jams means the buses can actually move, which increases the risk of collisions.

Everybody here has colectivo stories — brushes with death.

Last week I was on a bus that was so far onto the railroad tracks when it stopped that the crossing gate was hitting the top of the bus as it was coming down. The driver did not seem bothered by this, but the passengers objected so he backed up.

For those of you not acquainted with the city or its buses, here's the short version: If you took the bus system from any other major city in the western world and then stripped away the components that made sense, you would have the bus system here.

I'm not saying it doesn't work. Remarkably, it sort of does.

What I am saying is that all the buses look different and are owned by different private companies. Most make an unholy racket and belch astonishing amounts of exhaust. In rush hour, they're unbearably crowded. They're often old and in bad repair. They don't follow straight lines or any pattern, nor do they follow the same route going one way as they do going the other (one way streets make this impossible). The route signs are often missing, incomplete, outdated, indecipherable or just wrong.

The buses are colorful, though. I should take more colectivo photos.

I'd often thought it would be great to compile a book of such photos. As with most of my best ideas — take blogging, for instance — it turns out I was not the first person to have this idea.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's a great book. I bought it when it first came out & went through the same thing... why didn't I think of that?