Thursday, December 18, 2008

The hacker mindset: The Nashville MTA, ie taking the bus.

Route 3 West end bus

I have always been intrigued by public transportation particularly the ones that have technology involved. I also like walking, but anyway this is about the bus. Why would one ride the bus if they had the option of driving there own car. Well the upside is overall it is cheaper if you eliminate all the costs involved in owning a car including insurance, car payments, gas, tickets, pain, and suffering. It's also green, I suppose. So what are the cons of riding the bus, there's people on the bus, and everybody knows people suck. The bus takes more time, and that's a big deal. So I will try to address the cons and also explain the process of riding the bus one hacker to another.

Riding the bus.

So in the morning you need to get on the bus, and most likely if your leaving for work at a typical working time you can catch an epress bus which is about a buck more than a normal bus ride but it gets you to music city central about as fast as you could drive there. Why music city central? Well thats the bus station and where all the routes connect and probably the place you need to be going. Well you get on the bus now what well you need to pay for your ride, if you have a 5 10 or 20 you can buy that in bus fare, but you will use the entirety of your bill. If you have exact change you can do hat two. You can also get an all day pass for just under 5 dollars. After sticking your cash in the machine if you didn't use exact change you will get back a paper card with a magnetic strip with the amount of what you overpaid written on it, to be used next time you get. Ok now your on the bus, and if your like me, and people just don't do it for you, and you happen to be on an express bus, then most likely the bus is one of the extra long ones. This means that in the center there is a metal disk that rotates so the back half of the bus can rotate. There are four seats on this disk. No one likes to sit on the disk because it rotates about 45 degrees in both directions during your ride and the walls of the bus there aren't walls but canvas. So those seats are your best choice for avoiding having someone sit next to you.

Why are you headed to Music City Central anyway? Well because it is the bus station and where all the buses meet. Think of MTA as DNS. Music City Central is the root dns server. Sure there are transfer points but MMC is the big one(hah I said mmc and I waasn't talking about the Microsoft management console). If you want to take the analogy further then your route number is your network number in the ip your destanation is your host portion of the ip and your dns name is your bay numeber. Bay number is the "parking spot" your bus is at, at the MMC. Ok so I hate analogies and that was stupid but hell I am on the bus I got a lot of time to kill.

On the bus, to enjoy your time, if your not sitting next to someone a subnotebook, like a eeepc is only mildly uncomfortable. If you want to lsten to music you probably want an ipod or something smaller. If you want to read, I reccommend a paperback. And if you have problems with people your night ride is going to be a nightmare....unless you take a fairly late bus. This will help you avoid sitting next to anyone so that you can enjoy your music/reading whatever your doing.

Oh and another thing, bus drivers are suprisingly nice and well mannered. There also late quite a bit, however never count on this because I only put it at about a 55% chance.

As for the technology I haven't delved deeper into the magnetic strip, and there also appears to be something called a smartpass, that has RFID that I haven't gotten my hands on yet. So there may be a part two. There also is GPS or something keeping track of what stop is next because the bus announces it to you. The non express buses have an led bar near the front with the date and time and sometimes stop information. You hear a lot of hillarious and disturbing things on the bus if you keep your ears open. Although most of the time people on the bus only talk about riding the bus.

The last mile problem.

The last mile problem is something that is common with most forms of public transportation. It was thought that segways might fix this problem, silly jobs and Bezos. While the bus usually does a good job of getting you pretty close to work, most the time it is pretty far from your residence. For those of you who don't like to walk, this sucks. So I offer you another solution. I personally am looking at the wombat 250 electric skateboard.

The last mile problem Alright well my bus ride is almost over so I gotta split, or rather pull a cord.

No comments: