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Darwin Award Nominee

The following story does not have much to do with “public” transportation, but it’s related to “people” transportation nevertheless, a subject also closely monitored.

In case you are not familiar with the Darwin Award, it’s an annual honor given to the person who killed him or herself in the most extraordinarily stupid way.

Last year’s winner was the fellow who was killed by a Coke machine which toppled over on top of him as he was attempting to tip a free soda out of it. And this year’s nominee is …

The Arizona Highway Patrol came upon a pile of smoldering metal embedded into the side of a cliff rising above the road at the apex of a curve. The wreckage resembled the site of an airplane crash, but was a car. The type of car was unidentifiable at the scene. The lab finally figured out what it was and what had happened.

It seems that a guy had somehow acquired a JATO unit (Jet-assisted-take-off – actually, a solid fuel rocket booster) that is used to give heavy military transport planes an extra “push” for taking off from short airfields. He had driven his Chevy Impala out into the desert and found a long, straight stretch of road. Then he attached the JATO unit to his car, jumped in, got up some speed and fired the JATO! The facts, as best as could be determined, are as follows:

The operator of the Chevy Impala hit JATO ignition at a distance of approximately 3.0 miles from the crash site. This was established by the prominent scorched and melted asphalt at the location. The JATO, if operating properly, would have reached maximum thrust within 5 seconds, causing the Chevy to reach speeds of well in excess of 350 mph and continuing at full power for an additional 20 – 25 seconds. The driver, soon to be a pilot, most likely would have experienced G-forces usually reserved for dog-fighting F-14 jocks under full afterburners, basically causing him to become insignificant for the remainder of the event.

However, the automobile remained on the straight highway for about 2.5 miles (15-20 seconds) before the driver applied and completely melted the brakes, blowing the tires and leaving thick rubber marks on the road surface, then becoming airborne for an additional 1.4 miles and impacting the cliff face at the height of 125 feet leaving a blackened crater 3 feet deep in the rock.

Most of the driver’s remains were not recoverable …

Rosy Award

General Motors awarded Rosa Parks, 84, the keys to a brand new Cadillac.

Her courageous decision to keep her seat on a segregated Alabama bus in 1955 is credited with sparking the U.S. civil rights movement, therefore the new set of wheels.

GM says it wanted to help the woman who is often called the mother of the civil rights movement keep up with her busy schedule as a speaker and social activist in Detroit.

Congratulations, Rosa, your award is well deserved.

What a Drag

A man was beaten up by angry female commuters on a bus in Tehran. Did he deserve it? You decide.
The man, only identified as Mohsen, had made a bet for about $30 with his father. The bet was simply a dare to dress like a woman in a public place. Not only was he subjected to the wrath of an angry mob of Iranian women, he was also sentenced later to 20 lashes. The 31-year old man rode in the segregated female rear section of a public bus.
But his large body and his shoes gave him away.

Iranian officials said that Mohsen had committed “an ugly and improper” act.

Sweet Deal

As is the case in most countries, smoking is also prohibited anywhere in the subway system in Paris, France. The fine for smoking is only about $20 in a city in which smoking is still very popular. One in two French men and one in three women are smokers.

Since violators have long thumbed their noses at the ‘No Smoking’ signs in the Paris Metro, officials have been offering free candies in an attempt to persuade smokers to postpone their habit until they are above ground.

Metro officials refused to speculate whether their sugar-coated anti-smoking campaign worked.

Raw Deal

A very different approach to smoking is practiced in Malaysia.

People who light up in designated non-smoking areas or on public transportation face jail terms. Parliament in Kuala Lumpur passed a law in 1993 calling for fines averaging about $2500 (US) or imprisonment for up to two years for offenders.

Instant Justice

Troylynn Brown-Musgrove, 31, a bus driver in Compton, California, was taking her break when her estranged husband boarded her bus and started beating on her.

She managed to immediately radio for assistance and began driving away while her husband continued to assault her. They struggled when Edward Musgrove grabbed the steering wheel. The bus glanced off a tree and slammed head-on into a brick wall.

The impact hurled Mr. Musgrove into the wall, tearing his head off.

His wife was unhurt.

Hot Schedule

When dialing the number for bus schedules in Toronto, they got a lesson on whips and chains.

It took transit officials more than a day to realize that a wrong number had been published in new transit schedules. Riders were connected to the House of Domination and Fantasy.
Apparently, one wrong digit was printed in 3000 pamphlets for Spanish-speaking riders. When callers dialed the number a throaty female voice informed the listeners about “one of the world’s top 10 fantasy chambers created by a woman, renowned for her beauty, wicked imagination and fabulous breasts.”

While callers were unable to find out what time their bus was leaving, they could learn about other driving habits and services offered at the house.

Besides telling stunned callers about the Victorian boudoir, a schoolroom, the thrown room, and two other rooms which were “guaranteed to make your heart pound”, this information line also volunteered schedules about the six domination chambers present at the house.

Toronto Transit Commission spokes person Christine Burkett said the pamphlets were only up for one day, maybe even less…

Much Hotter Schedule

Hammonton, March 18, 27 (AP) — David Middleton did everything expected of an New Jersey Transit bus driver. He drove a bus out of the yard, he changed the route sign displayed in front, he picked up passengers and collected fares.

One problem: Middleton is not a bus driver. Another problem: The bus wasn’t his.

Middleton, 35, of Egg Harbor City apparently found his way into an NJ Transit yard in Orange about 5 a.m. Wednesday and made off with a bus. He drove 110 miles south, down the Garden State Parkway and back to his hometown, where he picked up two passengers and discharged them where they wanted to get off, said Lt. Robert Jones.

Then he led police on a 3 1/2-mile chase that reached speeds of 60 miles per hour before surrendering. It wasn’t clear why he gave up suddenly.

“He was driving the bus good. He might have a future in it,” said Jones, who drove one of two police Car Rentals in pursuit.

Middleton was being held on $25,000 bail at the Atlantic County Jail. He was charged with possession of stolen property, eluding police, driving without a license, disregarding a traffic signal and careless driving.

He somehow got into the yard and eluded the attention of inspectors who log each of the 140 departures between 5 a.m. and 6:30 a.m., according to NJ Transit spokesman Steven Coleman.

“This particular individual had a real strategic knowledge of bus operations and NJ Transit operations and our fare collection system. Through that knowledge, he was able to find a way to get into the garage while we were dispatching,” Coleman said.

The 45-seat bus, which has a button ignition instead of a key, left the NJ Transit yard at 5:07 a.m., according to Coleman. Nobody saw it go, but an electronic monitoring system — Coleman would not be more specific, citing security concerns — pegged the departure at that time, he said.

The theft may have gone unnoticed longer had it not been for a mechanic who was driving north on the Garden State Parkway in Brick Township and saw the bus heading south.
He thought it suspicious because it was an urban transit-style bus, not one of the “cruiser” buses NJ Transit uses for longer routes, Coleman said.

The mechanic notified authorities and a statewide alert was issued by police.

Jones, who was on patrol, spotted the bus — with only Middleton aboard — at the intersection of routes 30 and 54.

The police cruiser followed the bus west on U.S. 30 at speeds up to 60 miles per hour, Jones said. Once, a car merged into traffic in front of the bus and Middleton narrowly avoided hitting it.

At another point, a would-be bus rider standing on the roadside waved money to get Middleton to stop, Jones said. He almost did, slowing to 35 miles per hour before resuming speed.

“We said, ‘Oh, my God, he’s going to pick this guy up,'” Jones said. Middleton pulled over and surrendered without incident.

Why did he take the bus in the first place? “He said he needed a ride. No lie,” said Jones.

Police and transit investigators who checked along the route found two passengers who had been picked up by Middleton. Police said those people never knew Middleton wasn’t a real driver on a scheduled route.

The $250,000 bus was not damaged.

Story supplied by Colin Leach

Don’t Drink and Drive

Eugene Laporte, 35, of San Juan Capistrano, California led police on a 40-mile chase on a stolen bus. He allegedly boarded an idling transit bus in Costa Mesa and took off with police in hot pursuit. He was nabbed an hour later in San Juan Capistrano when he stopped and ran into a bar for a beer.

From Rubber to Rail

Stealing items like buses, airplanes, and other “large” items does occur, but it is not very common. The following item caught Route’s attention since it has to be one of the strangest transportation related thefts ever.

Stealing 12 km of hot dogs would certainly be unusual, but these 12 km weren’t even eatable. It was a railway, complete with nuts, bolts and railway ties. It happened in the Russian republic of Chechnya. Estimated value of the paraphernalia is estimated at $2.6 million US Dollars.

It couldn’t have been a very busy line, because officials still don’t know when or how the theft occurred. The area has been plagued with crime and armed gangs who take advantage of an unstable political climate since Chechnya is seeking its independence from Russia.

Police suggest to call them at once if a person with a very very long package is spotted.

From Rags to Routes

A touching but gutsy story comes from Miami where 12-year old Rubin Livingstone made a dream come true. Rubin lived in a decrepid downtown shelter for runaways until he set out to go to paradise.

His imagination was stirred when he discovered an advertisement in the Miami Herald telling the world what a beautiful place Sandals Resort in Jamaica is. Rubin had no money, no passport, no identification whatsoever, but that was no obstacle for our young adventurer. Despite being dressed in a T-shirt and ripped jeans he succeeded in sneaking aboard an American Airlines flight. Better yet, a flight attendant invited him to ride first class.

Before that he had managed to catch two commuter trains and a shuttle bus to the airport in Miami without raising any suspicions.

Arriving in Jamaica he boldly walked right through customs without even being noticed. His luck ended when an alert bus driver stopped the youngster trying to sneak a ride to Sandals Resort. Further investigation confirmed the absence of any tickets, boarding passes, bus tickets, passport, immigration papers, etc.

Ellis Rubin, a lawyer for the boy’s family put it this way: “It would be amusing if it wasn’t so dangerous.” Rubin also noted that he has notified congressional committees which oversee airport security of the incident. Sandals, being notified of the boys trip showed some heart. “Everybody should be able to make their dreams come true,” noted Sandals’ spokesperson Michelle Acosta. They offered Rubin a summer job for the next season at its Beaches Resort for families, but only if his grades in school are good.

The offer was accepted by the boy and his lawyer.

Tea for – how many???

The Société de transport de la Communauté urbaine de Montréal (S.T.C.U.M.), called originally the Montreal Railways Co., was managed by English administrators who, as anyone knows, love tea. They decided to share their passion by serving free-of-charge tea to all employees. The tradition has been maintained until today with the result that, last year alone, S.T.C.U.M has bought more than 85 000 tea bags for its personnel.

Hungry Crew

Bus Driver Louis Cordova in Denver, Colorado, was determined to cheer up his passengers. One day, without explanation, he stopped his bus, bought three dozen day old doughnuts, and passed them out to his 25 passengers.

His usually grumpy group of commuters were delighted, they broke out in smiles, and gave Louis a big hand after they were done eating. From that day on people on his bus not only started to socialize, but made a regular habit of taking turns getting the doughnuts.

There was always plenty left for Louis and his family.

Speed, The Chase

Headlines were made on August 21, 1997, after a brief but tense police chase involving – of all things – a Connecticut transit bus. Motorists and onlookers were treated to a scene reminding them of the movie Speed, as they watched a small army of gun wielding police officers storm the bus after it was reported that the destination sign displayed “PLEASE CALL POLICE”, complimented by the rear sign showing only “911”.

Harrison police officer David Martinelli spotted the bus on Interstate 287 when it was attempting to turn off at the Westchester Avenue exit. Heading into White Plains police Car Rentals followed with flashing lights.

The student driver had accidently activated this safety feature without being aware of it.

“I thought they wanted to get by, so I told her to pull over,” said transit supervisor Alan Jackson, who was teaching driver-trainee Tina Coker the route between Stamford and White Plains. There were no passengers on board. “When they told me what it was I had no idea,” a shaken Jackson recalled.

With traffic backing up quickly, and no shortage of curious onlookers, police with drawn guns ordered Jackson and Coker off while checking out the bus.

“It turned out to be nothing”, remarked Harrison police Lt. Michael Kamensky, “but we have to assume the worst.”

The on board safety feature can be a real life saver if a driver wants to get attention. Inside the bus nothing reveals the action, because it is supposed to leave the bad guys unaware of help having been summoned. While Coker, 37, declined comment, division superintendent Joseph Stroman remarked that the button is very sensitive, and that even seasoned operators touch it at times.

Supplied by Peter Greenberg.

Have Condom – Will Travel

If you buy a train ticket in Denmark you will get two free condoms including a leaflet telling you how to prevent AIDS as you travel around Europe.

Car Rentalsten Volden, spokesperson for the Danish State Railway explained:

“We are cooperating with the wishes of the health ministry. With each Inter-rail ticket you get a small wallet with two condoms and a leaflet with travel advice and precautions against contracting AIDS.”

Corny Bomb Scare

Memphis police captain G.E. Jordan and his troops were quick to respond to a call from a frantic bus driver reporting a bomb on his bus. Indeed, there on the seat was the suspicious item, a bag wrapped in aluminum foil.

With all the necessary precautionary procedures firmly in mind, police finally determined that the “bomb” was a bag of corn chips left behind by a commuter.

“There wasn’t anything to it,” Jordan remarked, “someone left a sack on the bus and the driver assumed it was a bomb.”

Bus Barber Bust

A man who gave a bus passenger a free haircut in Halifax, NS, Canada, has been charged with assault with a weapon.

Police stated that shortly after a woman wit long hair boarded a city bus in the heart of Halifax, she felt her hair being tugged and reached behind her.

She screamed upon discovering that 25 centimeters (12 inches) of her hair had been cut off.

Police arrested the would be stylist without incident. According to the culprit, he was trying to “improve her appearance”.

Bad Bus Boy Busted

A six-year old boy didn’t get very far when he jumped into the driver’s seat of an empty bus in Overland Park, KS, USA, when he smashed into a house and two Car Rentals. A police officer reported that he managed to “put a pretty good-sized hole in the house”. Luckily, no one was injured in the incident.

The bus driver, who was picking up hearing-impaired children, had collected Justin Wright, 6, at his first stop. At the next stop, he got out to pick up a girl from her home.
That’s when Justin took over…

Hearse Train

A Romanian family sat their dead uncle upright on a train for a 2-hour journey to the graveyard. Apparently they could not afford to rent a hearse. A reporter, who happened to be on the same train for the bizarre trip, said that relatives doused the clothed body with cheap alcohol to conceal the typical smell associated with a dead body.

They told the conductor that their uncle was ‘drunk’.

Working on the Run

A British railway company is offering passengers a different sort of commute, a working one.

Rail commuters heading to London from eastern areas of England can get a free ride and $10 (US) an hour if they work as part-time train guards on their way to the office.
The Great Eastern railway said it decided to make the offer because of a disappointing response to its recruitment drive for part-time workers.

The part-timers would swap their office clothes for a blue uniform. Their duties include making announcements on stations, checking that all the doors are shut before leaving a station, and giving the driver the go-ahead.

Brazen Beer Bus Bust

James Higman witnessed the ending of the following story. He wondered what the police presence around one his company’s buses was about, but didn’t find out what happened until he read the article in the Everest Herald the following day.

This theft was about as bold as they get.

A man, apparently not content to steal a car, took a Community Transit commuter bus for a spin from Seattle to Everett Wednesday, stopping along the way to buy a beer.

Before he was finally pulled over on Evergreen Way in Everett, he struck two Car Rentals and sideswiped an Everett Transit bus. No one was injured in any of the collisions, Everett police spokesman Elliott Woodall said.

The empty bus was taken Wednesday afternoon from a yard at S. Dawson Street and Fourth Avenue S. in Seattle where Community Transit stores buses for commuter service, police and CT officials said.

John Sindzinski, deputy director for planning and market, said CT officials are investigating the incident and don’t know yet how the man was able to steal the vehicle.
“We’re gratified that there were no injuries,” Sindzinski said.

The man drove from Seattle north to Everett and stopped to buy a 40-ounce beer at the JMart at 2029 Walnut Street, Woodall said. He aroused the suspicions of a bystander, who called police at 5:15p.m.

Steve Song was working at the counter of the JMart when the man came in.

“He got off the bus, came in and bought a beer,” Song said. “I’m thinking to myself the guy’s a bus driver and he’s buying a beer. He didn’t have a uniform on or anything.”
Song said the man got back on the bus and appeared to be cleaning the steering wheel. “I thought he was maybe a bus cleaner,” Song said.

As the man was leaving the JMart, he struck two Car Rentals. A citizen with a cellular telephone followed the bus until it was intercepted on Rucker Avenue by Everett police Lt. Jim Brauch. About the same time police caught up with him, the driver sideswiped an Everett Transit bus near 41st Street.

Brauch turned on his lights and the driver pulled over near the 4500 block of Evergreen Way.

A 33-year-old Michigan man with no known local address was arrested and was to be booked into Snohomish County Jail for investigation of possessing stolen property.

He offered police no explanation.

The 4 Million Dollar Man

Thursday April 2, 1998 11:06 AM EST

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – A man hijacked a brand new Philadelphia city bus early Wednesday and promptly crashed the $250,000 vehicle into a steel pillar, trapping himself inside the wreckage, police said.

The 45-year-old man, identified only as Michael Smith, refused to pay his fare after boarding the bus at around 5 a.m. EST, police said. Ten other passengers filed out of the vehicle when he started shouting. Then he ordered the bus driver out and drove off.

Smith allegedly raced through the city’s Kensington area at about 50 mph and slammed into the steel pillar of an elevated train platform a few blocks away while making a turn.
The pillar cut through the middle of the bus, splitting part of the front section in half. Rescue workers had to pry the suspect out of driver’s compartment in the mangled wreckage.

Smith was taken to Temple University Hospital, where he was treated for a broken leg and discharged into custody.

Police charged him with robbery, theft, receiving stolen property, reckless endangerment, making terrorist threats and unauthorized use of a vehicle.

Meanwhile, service continued on the train line throughout the morning rush hour as a tow-truck and a front-end loader unwedged the bus from the support pillar.

City officials said damage to the bus and pillar could total $4 million.

Sign Language

Several members of Routes International came across some interesting signs and reported them for inclusion in The Sequel. The following is a short collection of reported signs which inadvertently had their meanings altered or changed in an attempt to translate them into English.

Sign posted in Germany’s Black Forest:

It is strictly forbidden on our Black Forest camping site that people of different sex, for instance, men and women, live together in one tent unless they are married with each other for that purpose!!!

Sign on the menu of a Polish hotel:

Salad a firm’s own make;

limpid red beet soup with cheesy dumplings in the form of fingers;

roasted duck let loose;

beef rashes beaten up in the country people’s fashion.

Sign a Rhodes tailor shop:

Order your summer suit. Because is big rush we will execute customers in strict rotation.

Sign in the lobby of a Moscow hotel across from an Orthodox Monastery:

You are welcome to visit the cemetery, where famous Russian and Soviet composers, artists and writers are buried daily, except Thursday.

Sign in a Paris hotel elevator:

Please leave your values at the front desk.

Sign in Japanese hotel:

You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid.

Sign in a Bucharest hotel lobby:

The lift is being fixed for the next day. During that time, we regret that you will be unbearable.

Signs on buses in Israel in the 40’s and 50’s:

Do Not Smoke!
Do Not Spit!
Do Not Touch Ladies!
Do Not Eat Sunflower Seeds!

Sign in Chinese Garden above bath tub size water lillies:


Sandwich sign in front of Chinese public toilet picturing a broom:

Execution in Progress!

Sign in China in front of room just cleaned:

Please slip and fall very carefully!

Kick of Life

Lafayette, IN – The conductor of a slow moving train spotted a toddler lying on the tracks just ahead, so he dashed to the grill at the front of the locomotive and literally kicked her out of harms way.

“I just had to do something,” Robert Mohr said of his heroic and quick thinking action.

Emily Marshall suffered a cut on her head and swollen lip. No indication was given as to how the young girl got onto the tracks.

NABI 2 – Furniture Store 0

A Baltimore MTA number 2 line bus was hit by a car apparently running a red light. The bus (# 9609) driver lost control and went through the show room windows of the Kovans Furniture store at 1329, 1331, 1333 West Baltimore street. The bus had approx 60 passengers aboard.

5 passengers (2 adult 4 children) were taken to the hospital with non life threatening injuries. The car was totalled.

12 passengers on the bus (including the driver) were transported to a local hospital with minor injuries.

No one in the buildings was hurt.

When the bus was pulled from the storefront, two of the buildings collapsed, onto the street. Several hours were needed to clean up the street and cordon off the buildings, which were condemned.

The NABI artic was driven under its own power back to the base for repairs! SCORE: MTA NABI artic 2 (buildings) Furniture store 0 (bus was driven away)

Bum Trip

According to recent news from Canadian Press a New Brunswick man faces assault charges after allegedly removing his clothes on a bus and trying to seduce female passengers.
Police say the incident happened an a bus travelling between Fredericton and Moncton in the Canadian province of New Brunswick recently. The suspect had to be subdued by other male passengers.

There is no word which was put on first, his clothes or handcuffs.


A bus driver was issued with a parking ticket after stopping to pick up passengers. The traffic warden issued the Bluebird bus with a penalty notice when it stopped in Manchester city centre.

Driver Chris O’Mahony pulled in to Lever Street in the number 77 bus and was handed the £40 ticket for stopping in a restricted area.

The ticket was cancelled after the bus company confronted Manchester City Council about what had happened.

Nick Painter, operations manager of Bluebird Buses, said: “We did raise a few eyebrows at the time.

“But once we explained what had happened to the town hall they apologized and, at the end of the day, it’s only a parking ticket.”

“If buses are illegally parked, by all means give them a ticket – the wardens are only doing their jobs – but not when they are picking up passengers.

“Common sense must come into it sometimes.”

A spokeswoman for Manchester City Council said the issuing of the ticket had shown a “lack of judgement” by the warden, who works for parking enforcers Control Plus.

The warden has been ordered to undergo “appropriate retraining”, she added.

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