Hey groovy cats and transit rats, today I’m going to hit you with some new juice for your brain. To expand what you know about busses and trains. To teach you everything you need to know about the inside transit terms in the land of rain.
Today we talk about Extra Service… or as it's sometimes called Extra-Nervous.
First we need to know, daddy-o a little about the extra-board, a handful of drivers who back up the system. Who fill in when regular drivers aren’t there or call in sick or are stuck by the Sunny Friday After Payday Ebola.
Every day one of these extra board drivers wins the lottery and gets to do Extra Service… I know there is a lot of “Extra” use at TriMet… That’s how they roll.
Your first clue is when your station agent calls you up and you see the big pouch… Not a normal run pouch but the giant pouch with maps and details of every single run in it.
You also get the old Motorola hand held radio.
Next you go grab a bus, check in with dispatch using the old Motorola radio, now you are ready to roll.
So what does Extra Service do? Well my groovy cats, you can do just about everything, your jobs include…
Swapping your good bus for a bus with a mechanical issue: This is done in route for those annoying little issues that have to be fixed and maybe there is no available mechanics. Like a bad driver seat, lights not working, broken mirrors or issues like someone pooped in the back seat or a kid peed on your floor… You know, the regular stuff.
Taking over runs when a bus is totally broke down: It’s sad when it happens but buses do break down. While the mechanics swarm to fix the down bus, extra service arrives and takes over so the rider is not impacted.
When the trains go down: Oh yes the train system is forever going down. Often it’s just a section of track and guess who is the first ones to respond? You got that, usually it’s extra service doing what’s called a bus bridge… hey man we even talked about bus bridge a while back… cool.
I’ve done everything from trips to the airport, a warming bus when an apartment fire left people stranded in the cold. Extra service can be used by police as a place to hold witnesses while a crime scene is made safe. I’ve stood on standby for the fire department when it looked like a section of Portland was going to need to be evacuated due to an industrial leak.
Sometimes when it's hot I leave my extra service bus available at transit centers as a cooling station.
Much of the time on extra service you are just sitting in your bus with a radio waiting… waiting for something to go wrong.
Rarely, you sit all night and are never needed, it happens like that. We are the insurance of the bus system. Just like your car insurance you are not needed until it’s vital. Other times you do extra service and you work like a dog, running from one side of town to the other, it’s all a big crapshoot.
The great thing about extra service is it fills my need to be a hero. I know, I shouldn’t feel that I can fix everything but man I groove on the swinging into service, on a dark cold night when people think they are stuck for another half hour until the next bus. That’s the best feeling right there. If you ask me they should give out a cape with that pouch.
Ok one of my favorite elements of Extra Service is the overhead code list. We can change when the bus says on the outside. I'm always changing mine, it drives the road supervisors batty. I get yelled at, change it for a while, then you know... changed it back.
So my Transit cats if you are ever picked up by a bus and the driver is talking on the old hand held Motorola walkie-talkie, you know you just got rescued by extra freaking service, the hero’s of the transit system.
That’s it for today…
Roll Easy or don’t roll at all!