By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Count on DART
You may have missed the ad in The Dallas Morning News classifieds. Under the headline "WEEKEND JOBS," the ad seeks people to "ride public buses & count passengers."
Does this sound like a cushy job or what? Kick back on a DART bus all day, watch the scenery go by--and count who gets on. Can life get any better?
Well, you blew it. All the positions have been filled.
For the benefit of those distraught at missing out (not to mention those irritable folks who pay taxes), here's something to sour your grapes: DART has hired an outside contractor--on a $2.45 million three-year contract--to count bus riders. In what might be a first for DART, the authority didn't look for a multi-million-dollar high-tech way to handle the job. Instead, the contractor, Dikita Engineering, Inc., will assemble a team of human counters, arm them with DART-provided computerized tallying machines, and regularly have them count the riders on each bus route.
Buzz, ever ready to backseat drive, wondered: Why can't DART just count the money at the end of the day and use some basic math, or have the drivers count the passengers as they get on--you know, drop beans in a jar or tie knots in a string, or click a Ralph Kramden-era mechanical counter--to save a million or two?
A DART spokesman explained that counting fares or even automated counters would reveal how many riders use the bus, but couldn't tell DART exactly where they got off and on--hence the $2.4-million head counters. As for asking the drivers to stand up and be counters: "He's got to drive the bus and watch all the people on the bus," the spokesman said. And, presumably, chew gum.
A story with legs
What a week. Sen. Bob "the thief of love" Packwood gets the heave-ho while women from around the world unite to tell Beijing where to get off. Just when Buzz is ready to cheer, "You've come a long way, baby!" we pick up DFW people, the independently owned newspaper published "in the interest of the DFW airport community."
In his regular column, cleverly headlined, "The sight of thighs makes a young man's eyes grow in size!" editor Bill Leader chose to wrap his arms around the tedious dress code issue in the Birdville school district. This is the district that measures the length of skirts and shorts and sends leggy offenders home in shame. Over two pages, Leader describes in telling detail how a teenage girl's exposed thigh is an invitation to disaster. You might want to take notes: "...what our young people don't need is distractions in the classroom. The concentration of our male students is not helped by the sight of a shapely female thigh..."
As if he hadn't stuck his word processor far enough into his mouth already, Leader, in his argument against exposing female flesh, went on to make an even more dubious cause-and-effect connection. "Without trying to scare anyone," he wrote, "the crime of rape has increased 38 percent in the United States since 1983, according to government figures.