Muni Minutiae

29 May

One recent afternoon I rode one of San Francisco’s Metro Muni motor buses with a two-seat arrangement between the back exit, seats that can be raised for the use of a passenger in a wheel chair. Most of the time when I am pushing a portable wheelchair, it’s on an electric bus, but the apparatus which hooks the chair for stability is essentially the same. What struck me this particular time was the young man in the wheel chair. He was giving directions, location and time frame to the person at the opposite end of his cell phone; briefly he discussed logistics and meeting point, none of the usual lengthy personal disclosure chit-chat heard so frequently while riding.

His arm muscles were in excellent shape judging from the skill with which he maneuvered the chair down the aisle to the chair lift in front. What stood out was his action as he moved out of the handicap safety spot. He leaned slightly to his right and with his left hand released the catch on the movable seat, so that additional seating was immediately available to other passengers as he wheeled himself to the chair lift. The maneuver was rapid, certain and clearly practiced. I ask you, how many wheel chair occupants think to do that, let alone are physically capable of accomplishing such accommodation for other passengers? Even though MUNI is beginning to prohibit the use of those seats to the physically mobile, it was satisfying to witness.

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