In the days where I lived in my hometown, my mother used to get these random mail from our regional transit authority, or RTA. In these envelopes, which would come around every six months or so, would be two copies of two bus line schedule changes that served our home, the # (pronounced as “number” and not as “hashtag”) 25 (Madison) and the #70 (Bunts-West 150th). My mother had gotten these for the longest time, but there was this one glaring error each time she would get these mailings. They were addressed to my mother’s married name, but with a letter “P” placed where the letter “T” was supposed to be. Still, my mother never made a fuss about it; she would give them to me as I would be the one utilizing the buses more so than she would.
Fast forward about a dozen years later, RTA no longer mail out bus schedules to participating customers. Instead, RTA (from here on, RTA is the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, or GCRTA; locals just call it RTA), instruct passengers to go to their website about upcoming changes. Most of the time, people usually ignore them until the changes occur, and then get worked up about how they weren’t notified.
Then again, the relationship between RTA and its customers has not always been one with strong communication ties. In fact, some of the bus and rapid (railcar or train) operators would get disrespectful to customers boarding and abridging.
That’s where this latest upcoming change introduces itself to a general audience. Referred to as “Next Gen,” RTA calls the changes to the bus lines as a “redesign”; where bus lines will either merge, emerge, reemerge, or be eliminated outright. Now, this is not something that is being introduced to the public on a short notice (the “redesign” goes into effect on Sunday, June 13). In fact, the changing bus line schedules went up on the RTA website since January.
The schedule redesigns were based on community feedback provided during teleconference meetings throughout the summer and autumn of 2020. But most passengers, me included, are usually not into the bus line schedule change meetings. Usually, whenever RTA announces these meetings, the end result would be just small adjustments to the timetable for a select number of bus and rapid lines. Whether or not RTA made any mention of actual merging of lines prior to these meetings would have made a difference.
Meanwhile, it’s been a while since I last blogged. The loss of my beloved grandmother back in December exacerbated my major depressive disorder to the point where I needed to add an extra 50 milligrams of an antidepressant into my daily regimen. This episode had basically made my brain and will into mush, thus leading to the latest gap in between posts.
Another event occurred in this gap, ironically through this blog, that also shook me to my core: a message from my mother, whom I haven’t spoken to since October 2014. I was legit scared at first; is someone trying to cosplay as my mother, considering lack of access to the internet when I last saw her? If this really was my mother, why is she reaching out to me? Is she going to tear into my blog the way my sister did 5.5 years ago over the truths I told? In a brazen move, I decided to read the message.
My mother’s message to me started off with “i love u and miss u,” which made my heart swell with love. And then I kept reading, which would eventually deflate my heart: “my heart is broken and i cry everyday.” On the surface, this looks horrible, but trust me when I say this; there were hella reasons why I estranged myself from my immediate family. The message continues: “if I offended u somehow i’m so sorry. i hope u r safe and well.” The message ended with the acknowledgment of her phone number being the same, and me knowing this, because a friend of mine had called several weeks prior asking about my grandmother’s whereabouts.
From then on, I kept thinking, every day; should I respond to her? Should I dismantle the blog? Maybe find a way to psyche myself up to write a post? And the gravity of these thoughts pulled me down so hard, I struggled to keep up with my daily routines.
It wasn’t until I learned about RTA’s “redesign” that something lit a proverbial fire under my ass to get it moving.
I decided to create a flyer for my fellow neighbors about how the RTA Next Gen was going to affect bus availability, using some of the map artwork from RTA’s website. After spending about an hour on it, I printed it out and posted it on the bulletin board next to the mailroom. By the next morning, it was gone. Somebody needed it that badly, I guess. I went back and printed a second set, but with some corrections and a memo to “DO NOT REMOVE” (heh, sorry about that). As of this evening, the flyer was still up. I spoke to a next door neighbor about the RTA Next Gen and the flyer I created, and she requested a copy for herself since she also uses public transit sans the past 14 months due to the pandemic.
As for the message from my mother? I have not replied to her as of this post. Maybe someday I might reply and attempt to reconcile the relationship with my mother, like how Brian Pillman, Jr. has with his mother from the latest episode of Vice TV’s Emmy-worthy docuseries “Dark Side of the Ring.” However, it appears that my mother is not ready for that, or any, conversation with me right now, based off of her message to me. And that is something my mother has to work on, if she wants to, in order to reestablish any kind of relationship with me.
Finally, RTA must have caught proverbial wind of the noise from customers inquiring about their bus service, as they are now flashing on their route destination marquees “RTA Next Gen Starting June 13”. What RTA should have been doing to better prepare the general public is have some vignettes available online or YouTube about which buses are going where and when, there and then. Instead, it’s going to be a white noise summer with all the immediate complaints from an intergenerational group of passengers trying to get somewhere.