Hit By the Bus—and Smiling

IPMI Blog bus imageBy David M. Feehan

I read with a smile Kim Fernandez’s story about her stupid furnace and brand loyalty. It made me recall an incident that occurred just before Christmas.

I was on my way to visit my son and his family in Brooklyn. It was a lousy night for driving from D.C.—rainy, foggy, and bone-chilling. I had just pulled off the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge and onto the BQE (the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway), exited at the Fort Hamilton off ramp, and was preparing to turn right on 65th Street. While waiting at stop light, I suddenly felt a bump. I looked to my left and there was an MTA city bus, trying to squeeze between my Jeep and another car.

I started honking and flashing my brights and the bus driver pulled over to the curb. The young driver got out, came around to my driver’s side window, and asked if anyone was injured. I told him I thought it was a minor collision and he looked at the side of my Jeep and then told me he would call his supervisor but it might be awhile before anyone would come. Wanting to make sure I had a record of the accident, I called New York City Police, who promised to send a squad.

Within about 20 minutes, two MTA supervisors arrived. They were very friendly and courteous. One, noticing my Maryland plates, remarked about the Nationals winning the World Series. Before long, we were discussing the 1969 Amazin’ Mets and the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates. After the supervisor took a number of photos with his cell phone, he explained how I could file a claim and gave me a form with instructions and a number to call. By the time police arrived, we had pretty well settled the issue.

When I returned to Maryland, I found I already had two mailings from MTA with the forms I needed and the instructions for filing a claim. I then received a call from Dominick, a representative of MTA’s legal department, who wanted to check and see if I received the forms and again walked me through the process of filing a claim.

All’s well that ends well. I took the Jeep to my neighborhood body shop, where the owner rubbed out the scratches with some rubbing compound. No harm, no foul.

Who said transit agencies are by nature rude and impossible to deal with? New York’s MTA set an example for other transit and parking systems. There is a lesson here for any public agency, whether transit or parking. Encounters like these can build loyalty or animosity. Your choice.

David M. Feehan is president of Civitas Consultants, LLC.