For some, road is a workplace Bus: On the MTA's No. 14 route, from South Baltimore to Annapolis, drivers take shoppers to the store, commuters to work and students to school.

October 12, 1997|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,SUN STAFF

For many, driving Route 2 between Baltimore and Annapolis is the way to get to work. For others, that is their job.

William O. Gee, 52, has been driving a bus on the Mass Transit Administration's No. 14 route, from the Patapsco light rail station in South Baltimore to Annapolis, for 10 years. He is a veteran of Ritchie Highway's legendary traffic jams.

Another driver, 39-year-old Deborah Morton, has driven nearly all of the MTA routes in her eight years as a floating driver, but she calls the No. 14 her favorite because "it gives you some distance."

For the most part, the No. 14 buses make their 450 weekly trips right down Ritchie Highway, rather than cutting through narrow city streets. And, because she's the only one in charge of the bus, it's "somewhat like having your own business," she says. "You're out here doing what you're supposed to do, and #F nobody's bothering you."

On a given day, about 2,500 passengers ride the No. 14, which costs $1.7 million to operate each year. They are community college students on their way to classes, housewives going to shopping centers and commuters going to work.

"Sometimes, on a nice day, we just carry people to the shopping centers in Glen Burnie and the MVA, and then it thins out, maybe eight or nine people going to Annapolis, and it's very comfortable," Gee says.

Karen Singletary, a 33-year-old cook at a McDonald's restaurant in Glen Burnie, says she likes taking the bus to work from her home in Cherry Hill. "Plenty of times I've been reading and missed my stop," she says, because she was engrossed in a novel. She sometimes meets people and converses with them, she says.

Passengers frequently listen to music through headsets. On a recent trip, a woman wore curlers, and younger passengers sat impatiently on the edges of their seats or slouched with their feet stretched out and newspapers covering their faces.

Gee is a typical workaday bus driver, but Morton shows up in a short blue skirt and tights, makeup, eye-catching earrings and gloves to protect against calluses. She uses a back support in the driver's seat.

"It's a lot of wear and tear on the female body, the twisting and turning and pulling and all that," she says.

At one stop recently, she tapped her horn to let a woman waiting for a bus know she was there. "There's some bus drivers that's nice," she says.

But kindness doesn't mean convenience, the passengers say.

Carlous Chambers, a 41-year-old North Baltimore resident who is a plant account technician, waited impatiently at Ritchie Highway and Americana Circle in Glen Burnie for a bus home on a recent afternoon.

He doesn't like the daily drudgery, he says, but is used to it. His wife is finishing school in Louisville, Ky., and has the car, so he has little choice about the daily bus rides.

Nor are those rides much fun for Phyllis Koch, 40, who was waiting for a bus to take her home to Brooklyn Park from the K mart in Glen Burnie.

"It bothers me a lot, having to depend on it when it's not on time, like now," she says.

Some riders "get out on the wrong side of the bed, and the bus might be a few minutes late, and they take it out on the driver," Gee says.

He likes talkative passengers better.

"You sit there and you listen, and they get something off their chest," he says. "Sometimes you say you don't want to hear it, and then they start to tell you about it. Then they pat you on the shoulder and say, 'I'll see you tomorrow.' That makes your day."

Pub Date: 10/12/97

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