I am running to catch the bus, but the driver closes the door and drives away. Why doesn’t the driver stop to let me on the bus?
When the driver is getting ready to leave, he/she is looking around to ensure that it is safe to pull the bus out into the traffic lane. Consequently, it is likely that the driver may not see you coming before pulling out of the stop. Once the driver pulls away from the stop, it is generally no longer safe to allow a passenger to board a bus. Unitrans places the safety of its customers and employees as the number one priority, and drivers will not take any action that would potentially put someone’s safety in jeopardy.
Buses are often really crowded, especially at peak times. Is there a legal limit on how many people can be on a bus?
Unitrans follows all of the rules and regulations that apply to the provision of public transportation services in order to maintain the safety of our passengers. On behalf of the City of Davis, Unitrans provides a regularly scheduled, fixed-route passenger bus service throughout the City and is subject to the rules that apply to urban transit services, not those that apply to school bus services. The full text of the regulation is included at the end of this answer.
Given the high demand for Unitrans service, especially at peak times, as well as budget constraints that limit our ability to fund more buses and more bus drivers, there is no question that some buses are very crowded. Our goal is to safely transport as many passengers as possible to their destinations and we do not want to leave riders behind. Although this may be uncomfortable at times, it is not unsafe. If a passenger feels that a bus is too crowded, he/she may decline to board the bus and take another bus instead. When the driver sees that the bus is completely full and can carry no additional customers behind the white safety line, the driver will inform customers waiting at bus stops that he/she cannot take additional passengers. Unitrans will make all attempts to send out a “tripper” bus (if both a bus and a bus driver are available) to pick up those customers. Note also that Unitrans monitors ridership data on all runs and provides statistics on bus crowding as part of its ongoing reporting program.
The specific rule for the transportation of passengers on regularly scheduled transit service comes from the California Code of Regulations, Title 13, Section 1217(e), which reads as follows:
“(e) Standing Passengers. A vehicle shall not be put in motion until all passengers are seated, and all passengers must remain seated while the vehicle is in motion. Standing passengers are permitted only on a bus (except a school bus, SPAB, or youth bus) operated in regularly scheduled passenger stage service or urban and suburban service by a common carrier or publicly-owned transit system, and equipped with grab handles or other means of support for standing passengers, and constructed so that standing room in the aisle is at least 74 in. high.” (emphasis added)
Why do some buses go out of service before they get to my stop?
This can happen on the more frequent lines, especially at the times when buses are scheduled 10 minutes apart. If the first bus is late, it may start picking up people expecting to take the next bus. This makes the early bus later and sometimes the following bus catches up to it. At that point, there is no sense having both buses follow each other into the terminal, so the first bus will go out of service to bring those people on the bus to their stops faster (while the second bus picks up at the remaining stops).
What is the meaning of the orange flags that are sometimes held out at the back of the double deck buses?
These reflective, orange flags warn traffic of a stopped or slow-moving vehicle, as an extra precaution. We use these flags whenever a double deck pulls into or out of a stop, navigates around a hazard (such as a double-parked delivery truck) or travels over railroad tracks. When a bus is pulled over at a stop, the conductor extends the flag to indicate that passengers are getting off the bus in order to alert other vehicles of their presence.
Why are there no bike racks on Unitrans buses, like other transit systems?
This seems ironic, since Davis is known for its support of bicycling. However, unlike other larger cities, the entire city of Davis can be easily traversed by bicycle, so most people who might want to use the bus for a portion of their trip can simply cycle the entire distance in Davis. Also, the high use of bikes in Davis makes it more similar to European cities, which typically do not use bike racks (see blog post on this subject). Note that there may be occasions when transporting your bike is necessary and this is accommodated in two ways. All YoloBus buses have bike racks and these routes cover much of Davis. In addition, bikes are allowed to be carried inside Unitrans buses on the last trip of each day and all day on weekends (except Picnic Day).
I sometimes see someone standing very close to the bus driver and talking the entire time I’m on the bus. It seems that this would be distracting to the driver and unsafe for the passengers on the bus. Is this allowed while the bus is moving?
Unitrans constantly recruits for and trains new drivers, in both classroom and behind-the-wheel settings. After the driver is tested and receives his/her Class B drivers license, the driver is allowed to drive the bus with passengers and is accompanied by a Unitrans route trainer to assist the driver in becoming more knowledgeable of Unitrans’ bus routes and on-the-road operating conditions. The route trainer is positioned close to the driver so that the trainer can help take control of the bus should the need arise.
Please be assured that all Unitrans drivers receive a significant amount of training before being assigned to driver shifts, so the safety of our passengers is always our number one priority.