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Be visible, be seen

As daylight dwindles and snowbanks pile up, First Transit wants people to know what it takes to be seen by their drivers and the rules of the flag-down system.

First Transit does not have designated bus stops, it's a flag-down system meaning you have to wave the bus down anywhere along its route in order to be picked up. But there are some rules travelers should abide by.

First and foremost, be on the correct side of the road. The buses will only pick up passengers who are on the side of the road they are traveling on, going in the direction the buses are already traveling.

Mobility Manager Catherine Wilde demonstrates the correct way to flag down a Fist Transit bus- making yourself visible, standing at a curb cut and not behind a snow bank, and using something that can be seen by the driver-in this case a red way2Go flag, but it could also be a lit up cell phone or flash light as daylight dwindles.

Secondly, for safety reasons, a bus cannot stop at an intersection, says First Transit General Manager Ryan Oakley. This means if you flag the bus down while standing on the corner of an intersection, it will pull over down the block from where you are.

"What they don't realize is that if we stop on a corner, the other 30 feet of the bus is sticking in the intersection," said Oakley.

Additionally, travelers should stand out by the curb and start waving the bus down once they see it coming. Oakley said in the past, complaints have stemmed from people who say the bus went right by them but the problem was that they were walking down the sidewalk, waving the bus down after it was too late-causing the driver to miss them.

"If you see us coming you need to move out by the curb and wave us down," said Oakley.

The exception to this rule is the bus shelter. Bus shelters are in effect a stop for the bus, and the driver knows to stop there if people are inside one, said Oakley.

Other hurdles to catching the bus can be weather related, as the days get shorter and the snow is falling.

Oakley recommends people either carry a flashlight or use their lit up cell phone to wave the bus down when it's dark out.

Something else travelers should keep in mind is the snow. Try to look for a curb cut and stand there to flag down the bus, rather than attempting to flag the bus from behind a snow drift. This helps you both be visible and board the bus without climbing a snow bank.

The bus drivers are instructed to use common sense and try to pull over near a driveway if they see someone flagging them down from behind a snow bank, said Oakley. So if you flag down a bus and it continues traveling before pulling over he says not to take offense.

Overall, think of where to position yourself for the bus to pull over-not too close to an intersection, and near a curb cut- and try to make yourself as visible as possible.

Because, while it is a flag-down system, the drivers' eyes must be on the road.

"Our drivers are not driving down the road staring at the side," Oakley said.


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