"Good morning, it's 7:45 and we have the following transfers: Rockvale and New Holland, you have Manheim. That is all," the bus dispatcher announces over the radio. Elizabethtown. Manheim. Lititz. Ephrata. Columbia. New Holland. Park City #3. Rockvale. Each bus arrives at the downtown hub at that same time. And then immediately departs at that same time. If you want to bus from one outlying town to another, you have to tell your inbound driver to radio in and ask the outbound bus to wait for you.
That particular morning yours truly missed her usual, earlier connection and had to take one of the above buses. As I boarded I asked the driver to radio in for my connecting bus to hold for my transfer. He did so. Minutes later we arrived at Queen Street Station and heard the dispatcher's announcement.
I got off the bus and ran to my connection, just in time to see him depart. I immediately called the dispatcher. The dispatcher radioed the driver, who stopped two blocks away. I ran the entire way. Who needs a gym?
Transfers like this happen often. Sometimes the person who asked a bus to hold doesn't tell the waiting driver that they got on board and it's okay to depart. Then the driver will ask people on the bus whether the transfer person got on board. But if nobody answers, the driver has no choice but to leave in order to stay on schedule.
Later I called and thanked the dispatcher for his help. I asked if anything could be done about the overlapping schedules of arriving and departing buses, in order to make it easier for people to transfer. He said it's been discussed over the years, but nothing can be done.
Maybe the transfer person could be given an orange flag or some other token to hand to the driver when they get on board. The bus drivers have a lot of responsibility -- it would be great to find some way to make transfers easier for them, as well as for the riders. And if that morning connection was easier, more people might ride the buses.