Tag Archives: bus signs

Bus Woes

Aren’t buses annoying? First of all, there’s that plural. The usual phonetic rules call for a double “s” in the plural, and some people do indeed write “busses.” “Buses” is more common, yet for some reason I feel slightly wrong every time I write it. Then there’s the actual bus, which never comes on time because it’s waiting for a quorum. Passengers, that’s the real reason you see four buses pull up at the same time. Unless there’s a group of four, the bus-run can’t begin. Finally, there are the silly signs both inside and outside of the vehicles. For example:







It’s worth noting that NYC city buses (except those on the airport route) don’t have luggage racks. But even if they did, are there people who need to be reminded not to climb the walls and sling a leg over a metal bar? Actually, scratch that question. This is NYC, so the answer is probably yes. I do wonder why “Luggage Rack” is capitalized. Normally, generic nouns are written in lower case. Perhaps adding capital letters makes the nonexistent item more real.

Moving on:

This one was on a tourist bus, so warning people not to slide the roof or throw packages is probably a good idea. People’s brains tend to hibernate when they’re on vacation. My favorite part of this sign is “frequencies.” I’d expect a singular there, because the time period between events varies, not the time periods. “Frequencies” makes me think of radio stations and, vaguely, astrophysics, which I can think about only vaguely because I have no actual knowledge of the subject. Also, why “approximately”? Isn’t that implied by “vary from 8 to 15 minutes”?

I used this photo in another post (http://www.grammarianinthecity.com/?p=2159) but I can’t resist repeating it because it’s such a good example of the “bizarre bus sign” genre:







DNA. Good to know. If you want to maintain your privacy, try not to shed any cells while riding. And if you wish to explore your genetic heritage, this bus is for you. Happy riding.

What counts

Riding on a New York City bus recently, I glimpsed a going-out-of-business sign advertising discounts of “90% to 90%.” I couldn’t snap a photo of that gem from a moving vehicle, and when I returned the following day, the store was boarded up, denying me both the photo and the bargains within. But I did take a picture of another crime against arithmetic. (Yes, I know that I’m supposed to concentrate on grammar in this blog, but I can’t pass up illogical statements, even if they’re made with numbers.) This placard appeared on an uptown express bus, showing where the stops are:

Follow the numbers.

Follow the numbers.









For non-New Yorkers, let me explain that most Manhattan streets are numbered. The city’s grid was established in the early 19th century by order of the City Council, which charged a committee with “laying out Streets… in such a manner as to unite regularity and order with the public convenience and benefit . . . .” What would that committee make of this sign, which sends a bus up north on First Avenue to 14th, 23rd, 34th, 29th, and 42nd Streets – in that order? And no, the bus doesn’t double back on 34th to hit 29th before making a U-turn and driving to 42nd Street.

This sign illustrates two truths, both “universally acknowledged”: (1) Proofreading is a lost art, for both letters and numbers and (2) To travel on public transport in NYC, you need sharp eyes and good luck.