Freihofer ReRoute Creates "Commoner" Chaos

Saturday was intended to be a productive day for me. I had several errands to run that I can't do on any other day of the week. After completing a few chores around the house, I headed for the bus at 9:30. Yeah, I read about the Friehofer's Run for Women so I knew it was going to be quite a hike to catch the #1. I, along with several other non-elite runners just trying to get to work, were stalled as the new race route shut downtown down.

The few dozen race supporters rallied the runners as we tried unsuccessfully cross the street. After a half an hour, I realized that I should have taken ibuprofen as my ailing knees were more than a little painful. I sat on a stoop awaiting a break in the runners and checked the CDTA bus alerts.

There I learned that the main artery of all CDTA bus lines was to be shut down from 6AM to "approximately" 6PM. (I would share the details but they seem to have disappeared from the CDTA website.) I, along with those less fortunate folks who work and do their "chores" on their only day off, jumped on a crowded #1 in front of 45 Central. The grumbling was audible on the first leg of my journey as the passengers all seem shocked at not being able to get to their jobs on time.

Oh well, suck is life amongst the working class as they growled at those prancing down Washington Avenue in their bright colored sweat. In years past, the runners began their jaunt at a deserted Empire State Plaza...the route of very very few weekend buses. There they only shut down traffic on Madison Avenue and the few side streets for a few ours.Still, ya had to be patient if you wanted to cross the street but it's wasn't impossible.

This year, the two biggest bus stops, Washington Avenue and South Pearl were shut down and there were no stops in between Pearl Street and 45 Central. So, while the 4000 runners ran their race and exited Albany immediately following it, thousands of working class folks had to carry their shopping results for quite a ways to get to and from home.

I achieved my first goal and headed back up Central Avenue on another #1 loaded for Saturday downtown workers and those, like myself, with a single day to accomplish a lot. I was bewildered when I pulled the cord for the last stop before the detour into Arbor Hill and the bus driver ignored it. .Several of us yelled and walked to the front of the bus at the intersection.

The driver ignored and yelled out, does anyone want off here? Well, of course, we did, were requested a stop and stood at the door awaiting it's opening. The driver explained that he couldn't let us off in the middle of the intersection but would have to pull over on the Henry Johnson bridge. I looked out the door to see one of those CDTA supervisor cars we were promised to help ease the chaos of the "Race" detour.

The door was opened and the Supervisor yelled, "let them off, I'll block this lane of traffic." I hauled my shopping home through the now deserted race lanes and asked when the main artery in downtown would be open again. "Not until about 6PM," one of the pedestrians said...apparently they had inquired rather than reading the website alerts as I had.As I walked, I was passed by several runners who work in the Center Square entertainment industry...seems they didn't know about the run and were late for work because of it.


So, I made careful plans fo my next CDTA adventure. Unfortunately, me and my very painful knees had to walked .67 miles downhill to await the arrival of the 182. Of course, there was no schedule as there was no route for the 182 on Pearl Street and up Clinton. (By the way, I think it may be time for another vacant building inventory on Clinton, have you seen that mess??) I waited about 45 minutes for the 182....then, on the other end of the unschedulable route, I waited another 45 minutes for the return trip.

While on the bus, which was packed with those just as weary as I of the Region-wide chaos created by the Freihofer Run, I listened with glee to the radio announcing that the #22 was cleared to return to it's regular route. I was happy that I wouldn't have to haul my rather heavy goods a mile through the hood to my home in Center Square. I could, instead, catch the restored 22 for that .67 uphill climb. I waited for the #22 on Pearl Street (as directed by my driver, who apparently wasn't listening to the radio as carefully as I was.)

I waited and waited until I saw a #22 on it's regular route up State Street, so I hauled my load straight up hill to wait at the Pearl Street station where I was told, surprise, surprise, that I had just missed it..."no duh." After a half an hour wait, I saw a whole bunch of stacked 22s going in the opposite direction and my 22 traveling south on Pearl....the detour. So, I walked back to the Pearl Street stop....this time in the rain with my knees screaming at me to stop.

There, I stood in the rain and awaited the #22. A man walked into that bus stop and laid down on the ground where he decided to take a little nap...he didn't smell too good. I looked up from the sleeper just in time to see the 22 headed toward my stop on State Street. I sighed as I warned my nearly collapsing knees, they would have to make that uphill climb one more time. I looked up to catch the clock...it said 3:03. (If you know me, you know that number means there is an angel in my pocket...so I climbed the hill, all the while promising my knees it would be the last climb...we would be sitting on State Street until an air conditioned 22 came to relieve the misery. There, I waited for an hour and, apparently I was the CDTA volunteer who rerouted those awaiting all other main artery buses that they would need to catch it around the corner. Oh, yeah, forgot to tell you there was a CDTA Supervisor seated in an air conditioned vehicle throughout my attempt to catch a bus. She never rolled down the window.

At a little after 4PM, a lone 22 pulled up and deposited transfer passengers at the bus stop...a bus stop that was only serviced by the bus they rode in on. After beginning my adventure at 9 that morning, I arrived home at about 4:30. My first task was to get to the wine store. I grabbed my billfold and deposited my purse on the dresser...I noticed that the sweat and rain had caused my purse to bleed a red stripe across my chest. I walked slowly to the wine store grateful that I hadn't faced that mess while trying to et to work!!

My wine guy waved me in, "how ya been?" he asked. "Just spent my day trying to avoid the Freihofer Mess," I responded with a grimace. He smiled, "I liked it, I could drive right in off of Madison this year. (the normal route.) "Yeah, well, I'm a downtown resident and I walk the talk...I ride the bus unlike the elitists who don't practice what they preach."

So, the race featured 4000 runners, from Olympians to regular old folks from all over the Capital Region. Those folks ran their 5K and immediately exited downtown. I saw none in any of the shops or restaurants or even the bars....good thing cause many of those workers couldn't get to work. We talk about the disparity between the rich and the poor but do we really want to do something about it.

Those people screaming for the $15 minimum wage for those working in minimum skilled jobs, didn't think twice when they shut down all over downtown with barricades for twelve hours. It's funny how liberal elitists are blind to the simplest things. When I heard that the Race was moving from Empire State Plaza to City Hall...I blamed "Mayor" Sheehan for having a hand in the chaos causing change. When I walked that .67 mile to the closest bus stop, I realized that the entire East Lawn of the Capitol, all the Roads, Lafayette Park, Academy Park and every connecting artery to the City was blocked with heavy barriers and fencing...ya know, symbolicly keeping the "runners" in and the City dwellers out.

(Bet no one peed on the "Mayor's car yesterday!)

The vacant area still had security in little huddles, all of them I passed at 12:30 were bitching about one mess or another. Those who catered the running officials wearily walked by my 4PM perch for the #22 as I directed those dead on their feet that their journey home was detoured...and who knows when the next bus will be there.

I don't know what the Freihofer Run supports...and, yes, I looked but it certainly isn't in support of us commoners. And, I'll never look at another Freihofer product without remembering my wasted Saturday...wasted not by my laziness...but by those who really don't care that the entire region was beyond inconvenienced...the working poor, the single moms, the disabled and those, like myself, whose only day to take care of the chores for the week is Saturday. Perhaps it is time for some self-examination for our community decision makers.

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