Student - January 13, 2011

Bontsestraat

Bus line 88 to Ede-Wageningen train station is nothing to rave about. In particular, the real time departure information can put me in a bad mood.

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You stand waiting for a good ten minutes, in a coat which is a little too thin, and the board suddenly says that line 88 has just left. Still, line 88 has much to offer. There are always people with coats a little thinner, with looks a little more hopeless. Added to these are bus drivers arriving late in Wageningen, either super friendly or so incredibly sour-faced that I can't help but smile every time.
I'll tell you what's really bad: Arriva between Nijmegen and Uden. I'll just mention one of the times when I had to travel via Cuijk. Normally, such a journey entails standing in a jam-packed train (just like in line 88), followed by a mad run to catch a bus which leaves once an hour. I always manage to, until that one time.
The train had been on time; my sprint was acceptable. But when I look, panting, at the departure status, it says: 'This stop has been removed; you have to go to the Bontsestraat.' Well, Cuijk is not big but isn't it too much to expect transfer passengers to know where the Bontsestraat is?
In great haste, I ask a somewhat Cuijk-looking woman if she knows the street. Alas, she speaks in dialect, and she doesn't  know the Bontsestraat either. Suddenly, I spot a blue Arriva bus stopping in the distance. Without thinking, I speed off, almost knocking over an invalid woman (sorry). But I end up chasing the bus in vain, fifty metres behind.
So I am left standing there, alone and in the cold. The new bus-stop has no shelter, faces the wind and a bleak industry terrain.
From sheer boredom, I phone the Arriva customer service: 'All our operators are engaged.'
A long silence follows; the Arriva customer service probably hasn't heard of music. Just when I am about to hang up, a voice sounds at the other end. I ask as patiently as possible how am I supposed to know where the Bontsestraat in Cuijk is?
'Sir, you can phone 0900-9292 ((€ 0.70 p.m.) for travel information.'
I sigh. 'Could you in any case note down what I have said?'
'Sorry, but you have to go to our website if you have a complaint. I wish you a pleasant day.'
Flabbergasted, I hang up. Why have I waited for a customer service which doesn't allow me to ask questions or complain?  Does the bus company also expect me to spend my free time on the Arriva site?
But then, at this bus-stop, I also start to smile: let them read my column.

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