- Seeing from inside the bus. (Photo: flickr/daquella manera)
Bus operators, whether working for Metrobus, MetroAccess, or elsewhere, have what is often a fair share of frustrations. A new video reveals just how frustrating the job can become — and shows how hostility can escalate. Watch as a man who appears to be a Metrobus operator interacts with a potential rider, begins to argue, and physically shoves the man from the bus.
The wannabe rider appears to be asking the driver to take him to "just the next stop" (without payment?) as the driver refuses. Ultimately the driver takes the matter into his bare hands:
Wow. You can hear the wannabe rider's shock as the driver begins to pull his hands from the bus bar and tries to force him off. "Hold up, brother, I ain't done nothing to nobody or nothing," he tells the apparent Metrobus operator before his body is shoved, with an audible landing, onto the ground. One of the other passengers crows an "ooh" at the sound of the ejection. What do you make of all that now? Naturally the incident raises many questions — how much opposition was that passenger showing? Has this forcefulness recurred in other instances? What alternatives should the bus driver have considered when confronting a potential passenger who apparently wasn't planning on paying — but I soon found myself in pursuit of another question equally relevant to the transportation frustrations embedded in our buses: Who was the person who shared this video clip and other dispatches like it?
The short clip was uploaded on video-sharing website i-Tube on the afternoon of September 4 by a user identified as "MBD - Tha Last Netbender." His profile says he's from Washington, D.C., which adds further credence to the notion that what we're seeing is, in fact, a D.C. Metrobus driver. Additionally, MBD - Tha Last Netbender maintains a blog on the i-Tube site, which revealed another fascinating fact — he's the very same individual who posted the MetroAccess bus driver video I talked about last week, the one in which an operator referred to the conditions as "absolute slavery," which was uploaded onto YouTube from an account with the name MeanBlackDude, who identifies as 34 years old and also has a multitude of followers under that name on Facebook and Twitter. The man appears to have either created or has strong ties to a D.C. transit-oriented website called AccessTheDMV, which purports to cover accessibilty issues. The Facebook account also identifies D.C. as the man's location and says he attended Largo High School.
In a recent i-Ttube blog post, MBD - Tha Last Netbender describes how he posted the MetroAccess bus driver video on YouTube and offers the following note: "... It's from one of my (unnamed) drivers..."
One of my drivers? I begin to wonder whether the man himself is a WMATA employee ... and whether MBD stands for "Metro bus driver" as much as MeanBlackDude. I didn't know, but it seemed likely as I begin to dig deeper. Various vlogs and other signs point to MeanBlackDude as an engaged and clever guy in the area, based on past videos, and I'd love to learn more. His vlogging has gone back years and sports upward of 13,000 subscribers on YouTube. Further searching shows that he goes by "Lez." Then I saw the following March 3, 2011 video:
Here we see MeanBlackDude and another man talking about the D.C. metro area accessibility issues that drive AccessTheDMV. The video refers to MeanBlackDude as "the [MetroAccess] driver" a little after three minutes into it. Question answered. "Lez ... Mean Black Dude ... taking suck out the city, one blow at the time — pun intended," the man declares near the end of the video.
"He's not all that mean," his friend quickly adds. "He's actually a good guy!"
"Lies," Lez whispers with a big grin as the video closes.
These videos, from the frustrated bus driver clip at the start of this post to the real and genuine accessibility concerns MeanBlackDude has advocated passionately for, show a deep and compelling look into what's happening on the ground. In the comments of the "10 Hours Later" MetroAccess video Lez shared, he spells out the consequences of that struggle: two urinary-tract infections from his own lack of bathroom breaks in the past year. To reinforce the need for more stories and insight from people like Lez, I'll leave you with a sweet and heartbreaking video, taken inside of what appears to be a MetroAccess bus and with a MetroAccess patient, back on May 9:
Update, 1 p.m.: WMATA has not confirmed or denied that the bus pictured is a Washington, D.C. Metrobus, but the transit agency tells me they've launched an investigation. "Completely unacceptable behavior," WMATA chief spokesperson Dan Stessel wrote to me in an e-mail. "We have launched an investigation into this incident."
WMATA offers the expected and right reply. An investigation? All right. While not a formal confirmation, an investigation suggests that the folks at WMATA also think what we might be seeing is one of their Metrobuses.
I've also heard from the man known online as 'MeanBlackDude" as well as Lez. He confirms that he's a MetroAccess driver unsettled with the politics of his management. He received the video of the angry bus driver anonymously and without context — but as a rather established D.C. vlogger with ties to transportation, Lez strikes me as a person far more likely to receive this footage from a local source rather than from someone in another transit system. If you're familiar with the incident or took the footage yourself, let me know.