February 2004 (v6 i4)
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Capital Metro implements glass-bottom buses
Innovative boat style heralded by eager, enchanted drivers
by Joel Siegel, Staff Writer

You can see through glass, which is a really
amazing thing if you think about it for long
AUSTIN — Capital Metro, taking a controversial step in mass transit innovation in order to increase ridership, has unveiled its new line of glass-bottom buses. The buses will eventually phase out the company's earlier Huge Red and Blue, Square Green and Blue, and Sterile Space Odyssey models.

"There are a lot of exciting aspects of these new buses," said Capital Metro spokeswoman Linda Hutt. "We have new seats that look like they're even more cushy, and we also changed the color scheme."

Many passengers have mixed feelings about the new buses, but they all seem to question the function of the vehicles.

"Friend, I don't understand," said one passenger. "These bus folks are taking my tax money and screwing it into these bottoms of buses. Now granted, I haven't paid taxes or had what you might call an income since 1987, but those commies in Washington are shooting beans where there ain't no rice."

Senior citizens also are confused with the viability of the new feature.

"When I walked on [a glass-bottom bus] the first time, it nearly gave me a heart attack," said Cole Mansfield, headed for the Vista Ridge Activity Center. "I'm serious. I didn't have my Bayer, and I thought I was going to die."

"Is this my stop?" he added.

Some patrons enjoy the recreational aspects of the glass-bottoms, but call them pointless otherwise.

"I didn't realize how many interesting things pass right under me every day," said software engineer Mitchell Adams. "Have you ever seen a lane divider? I mean really seen one? Or those little square reflectors? Those are awesome."

"Even though they don't do anything except disorient people, I like [the glass-bottom buses]. They give me something to look at. God knows I can't do those crossword puzzles," Adams said.

Most drivers for Capital Metro have embraced the innovative vehicles, specifically citing the boat-style steering apparatus as "the best thing since that yellow line that keeps the passengers back."

Veteran employee Henry Wakshaw enjoys driving the glass-bottom buses. "Yeah! Man, these buses are the new roller coasters - everybody wants to ride! I can't wait to get more young passengers and work over those sweet college ladies! And when there's nobody on board, I make up games. 'Arrr, I'm a wee sailor,' I think to myself, and there's sharks and titties and people who appreciate my wide turns instead of scolding me under their breath when I play the 'brake hard' game."

While Capital Metro corporate office employees unanimously agree the new vehicles are "okay, I guess," company officials are scrambling to produce a coherent statement to present to City of Austin officials.

"We granted those clowns the usual six-month trial period," said City Counsel man Roy Harbinger. "We usually just sign off on it, since they upgrade their precious little buses every two months or so. But now that I read the proposal specs I don't know what any of us were thinking."

The innovation seems to be of least concern in the younger college demographic, as freshman Jacob White said, "Oh they're new? Great. I pull this thing to get off, right?"
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