TriMet to pedestrians: lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way

“The technology just wasn’t ready,” said Harry Saporta, TriMet’s safety and security executive. “There have been a lot of advances since then.”

When I initially saw this quote highlighted in one of the 137 TriMet stories Joe Rose is assigned by the Oregonian (new motto: “Enjoy your lighter recycling bin!”) I was severely disappointed to find out that it wasn’t about Magic Flying Sex Buses, something that you all know I’ve been anticipating for years. Nor was it about another transit necessity, industrial-grade odor neutralization.

That quote, it turns out, is about talking buses.

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t crossed many streets downtown since TriMet started their Population Reduction Pilot Program. I’m even more frightened now that they’ve begun eliminating bikers and wildlife with what seems like a pretty damn capricious attitude. So, in that regard, anything that would enhance pedestrian safety is welcome. I shouldn’t complain, because I’m getting tired of eating in the company cafeteria and sleeping at work. But, geez. Taking a few years and giving us a bus that kind of apologizes sheepishly for making turn? Not good enough.

And, more importantly, do you think that someone whose name sounds like “Hairy Supporter” took any crap in 7th grade P.E. class? Yeah, me too.

TriMet has a few types of talking bus systems they’re going to test. They’re all BORING AS HELL. Audio only, audio-visual, audio-visual-tactile (quickly rejected as it involved touching a moving bus). I’ve done some thinking about all of this, so you don’t have to. Just sit there and behold the possibilities!

Vuvuzela Bus Alert System: With the World Cup still a year away, there is at this time a world surplus of those irritating fucking plastic horns that sound like a herd of sheep is being castrated en masse. Give one to each passenger, and have them blow them the entire time the bus is downtown. In 2010 I actually turned the sound down on my TV and could hear vuvuzela noise coming from South Africa. This will work, but there will be a sharp uptick in mental health-related insurance claims.

Cowcatcher Alert System: Screw the audio. A couple hundred bucks for Fred Hanson’s cousin to weld some locomotive-style cowcatchers onto the front grille, and you’re golden.

Neighborhood-related Alerts: Match the alert to the area. Duct-tape a giant, juicy steak onto buses traveling through inner southeast and most pedestrians will jump out of the way in horror. Pearl District buses get a makeover so they look like they’re wearing loose mom-jeans, causing pace-increasing consternation for both posh shoppers and predatory night-spot frat bros. You get the idea.

The list could go on forever. 400,000 bucks buys a lot of creativity in these parts. One thing remains clear, though – a Magic Flying Sex Bus will never, ever hit a pedestrian. Please keep that in mind, TriMet planners. Don’t let me down again.

About Dr. Jeff

Dr. Jeff, in real life Dr. Jeff Guardalabene, is a Portland-area psychologist, who logs 300-plus miles on TriMet each week. He often live-tweets his commute to avoid intellectual stimulation. He lives with his wife and their five children and blogs about psychology issues at Follow @Doctor_Jeff on Twitter.
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One Response to TriMet to pedestrians: lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way

  1. Yup, the word to describe this sort of nonsense is TRITE. “pedestrians, the bus is turning” is about as clearest example of the stupidity of the Nanny State as possible.

    They should add to the programing the following as the bus goes down the street.

    “pedestrians, look both ways”


    “children, hold mommy’s hand”


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