Come On Up! There Is Still Space!
Por Juve Santiago MéndezMay 2015
“Having your own vehicle is essential if you live in certain cities of the Hudson Valley,” is what I used to hear when I first moved to this area. I never saw it that way. The reason is that I come from chilangolandia, or the defective, as my hometown, the Federal District is known. Mexico City is one of the largest cities in the world, where the public transportation system is responsible for transporting 70% of the population, that is,about 4 million people every day.
Because I did not have a valid driver’s license to drive in New York State, I was left with no choice but to park my car until I could sell it, and I had to find new transportation options. So I ended up calling on the services of the famous “raiteros”; famous in our Latino community, but totally unknown to those who do not speak Spanish (for obvious reasons that I will not delve into in this article). Ultimately, this mode of transportation left a huge hole in my wallet and several work delays. I was commuting from Poughkeepsie to New Paltz and the round trip would cost between 40 and 50 dollars each day for five days a week (that is, $200 to $250 per week). This seemed too costly to me.
With the incentive of saving money, I consulted the great wise master of today, a Google search, which guided me to this web page: www.http://ulstercountyny.gov. When I clicked on the bottom left tab, bus schedule, I was surprised to discover that there are fourteen routes connecting New Paltz, Saugerties, Marlboro, Highland, Rosendale, Plattekill, Wallkill, Newburgh, Kingston, Ellenville and Woodstock in Ulster county.
Once I had the needed information (schedule and fares), I decided to go on an adventure and test the route from Poughkeepsie to New Paltz. The bus stop is located on the corner of Main and Market Street in Poughkeepsie. When I arrived, I was surprised to see how logistically well organized this bus stop was: fitted out with signs, spaces with benches for passengers to wait and be protected from inclement weather, kiosks with printed information about routes and their schedules. For example, see the route for the city of Poughkeepsie, with information in Spanish, on this web site: http://www.cityofpoughkeepsie.com, and also this Dutchess County list of all county routes: http://www.co.dutchess.ny.us. All fees are very affordable and exact payment is required.
As much as I looked around the bus stop, I wasn't able to find a place to get a quick snack (taco stands or sandwich shops) like the ones we have in Mexico and in other Latin American cities. I also didn’t see anyone selling peanuts, which is a popular snack for riders of public transportation.
It is recommended that riders arrive three minutes before the departure time listed on the schedule and to look for your bus, which in UCAT’s case are colored green with blue and a white background. They are not embellished with the same sporty rims and UFO-like lights like the buses (micros) found in Mexico City, so that they can look like a Fast and Furious car. Here you will not hear the traditional cries of the cacharpos, who always stand on the side of the buses calling out to people and yelling: “come on uuuuup, come on uuuuuup, there is still spaaaace!” which is then followed by yelling out the bus route, thus letting everyone know their destination. Then you hand the driver the exact amount of money because there is no change in the small jar in front of the driver to which he will then ask you very cordially where you are going.
The buses of UCAT are very clean. In the interior, you will find the rules of the bus, which underscores not listening to music at high volume and not eating or drinking alcoholic beverages. If you need to speak with the driver, you have to do it behind a yellow line marked on the floor; here you will not find the typical scene with some public transportation drivers in Mexico or Latin America, whom have a place “reserved for friends,” that is, the spot for beautiful ladies, known as "pollero." The public transport of UCAT does not have stereo sound, so we won't listen to guapachosa music or the latest hit by Angeles azules. The bus drivers are very cautious, so we won't run the risk that the driver will suddenly feel like Michael Schumacher in the Grand Prix.
The buses travel through the Hudson Valley without many stops (unless you ask the driver to stop). On the Hudson Valley buses, we won't meet any of the CD hawkers who jump on the bus "bringing to you" the 100 golden hits by some unimaginable artist or duets, nor the urban troubadours that we are most gratified to listen to on the way to our destinations, nor the miracle pill sales people, pills that alledgedly remove kidney discomfort, headaches, sore throats, and which can even remove your ugliness and poverty (I want two!). Let's not forget those who sell "the newest fashion product, worth 10 Varos, 10 Varos cost".
In the case of UCAT buses, some drivers and users tell me that the service is very punctual, that usually all riders find a comfortable seat. In case that a bus fills up, they call another bus which comes right away, so that everyone can travel comfortably. As a passenger, I can assure you that we will not experience one of the typical scenes of Mexico City's public transportation, that is: when the driver shouts "Move on back! There is space!" despite the fact that not even a pinhead could fit. The answer is always the same from the kind passengers: "It is time to build a second floor!"
Perhaps, driving your own car or calling the "raitero" will be more comfortable. But traveling by bus has more advantages: you can save money, arrive safely and on time, and you help to minimize the pollution from greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide that causes global warming.
DEFINITION. Cacharpo: are usually men who dress as reguetoneros (they bring the entire flow) and are always hanging from the edge of a door, as if they were ircus trapeze artists, challenging the dangers. Their main feature is that they speak super-fast.
Public transport in Orange County
A service that benefitted more than 2.2 million riders in 2010. It has routes between Middletown, Goshen, Chester, and Harriman (The Main Line). The Middletown local service, http://www.midcitytransit.com/, has stops in Community Campus, Crystal Run Healthcare, Campbell Plaza, OCCC, Walmart, Shoprite (Rte. 211) and Horton Hospital Galleria in Crystal Run. The Newburgh Area Transit, telephone number 845-565-7900, connects the city of Newburgh with stops in Walmart, Newburgh Mall, Mid Valley Mall, Newburgh City, New Windsor, Big V-Eckerd, St. Luke’s Hospital, Valls Gate, Adams Fairacre Farms, Stop and Shop and more, including a connection to the city of Beacon. http://www.transitorange.info/index.html
Dial-A-Bus in Orange County
An open public service which requires to call at least 24 hours in advance to reserve a bus trip. It is not a taxi service, it won't pick you up at the door at the specified time, but rather the bus will stop for you by on the curb according to pre-established schedules. For residents of Blooming Grove (866-496-2877), Goshen and Chester (845-294-8920), Highlands (845-446-7433), Monroe (845-783-6222), Montgomery and Crawford (845-457-2622), Town of Newburgh (845-564-6084), Port Jervis (845-856-7999), Walkill (845-692-7852) and Warwick (845-986-2877) the fees range from $0.50 to $4 per passenger, depending on the route. Children under the ages of 5 or 6 do not pay if accompanied by an adult.
Note: Dutchess County also offers a similar service, called Dial-A-Ride, for residents of Amenia, Dover, East Fishkill, Fishkill, Hyde Park, North East, Pine Plains, Poughkeepsie, Stanford, Wappinger, Washington, or the city of Poughkeepsie. For more information or to register, call (845) 473-8424.
*Translated into English by Sebastian Anton
La Voz, Cultura y noticias hispanas del Valle de Hudson
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