I was in San Francisco a few weeks back and took the city bus often. The ride from union square to 45th Ave is about 8 miles long, at least 7 of those miles the bus is driving past non stop rows of parked cars, usually passing them within a foot or so. One slip, and you sideswipe a parked car and are probably canned. How the hell can they maintain the control and concentration necessary to not swerve a foot during an entire shift, day after day??
Practice, practice, practice. And probably amphetamines.
I think it’s experience. I noticed that I pass parked cars in my car all the time without thinking about how close they are. I think that’s because I’ve got an intuitive sense of how big my car is and how much room I need to make a turn. I suspect that a bus driver gets the same sense of the size and manuverability of the bus.
They have to cope with city traffic hassle too, not to mention all kinds of passengers. Hope they’re paid what they’re worth.
The train in Boston’s narrow old section.
True story: While traveling around BOS in a city bus I was wondering why nobody stood on the curb when waiting to cross (they all stood well back). My question was answered when the bus cut across the sidewalk on a right turn, narrowly missing the corner of a building. I literally started to get out of my seat because I thought there was going to be contact.
“They” train in Boston.
I commute along that general corridor. Some parts of Fulton (it runs parallel to Geary, which is what I assume you were on) is very tight for regular ol’ cars like my Corolla, roughly equivalent to the tight squeezes the buses face on Geary & O’Farrell. You just get used to it. Plus I grew up here, so the hills, one-way streets, and tight spaces that terrify out-of-towners are nothing to us.
Now, for a real rush, you gotta try passing a bus on the narrow part of Fulton, when the bus is already eighteen inches into your lane.
Same way you can walk down a crowded pavement without bumping into lots of people. Enough practice, it becomes automatic. You should see these frigging things being hustled through London’s gridlocked thoroughfares and winding side streets at frightening speeds. As a pedestrian making your way through standing traffic, few things are more pucker-making than one of these things belting down a bus lane, skimming the pigeon-poop off the cars and snipping the shoetips off people standing on the pavement.
Of course, even that’s preferable to the usual alternative, when there’s not enough room for them to move because someone has abandonded their Range Rover beside the pavement and the bus just sits there, forcing pedestrians to take a ten-minute hike round the length of its stranded carcass…
Magiver - yeah, that’s always a winner. I remember once having the side of a double-decker almost touch the tip of my nose as I stood there in a hung-over stupor. Certainly woke me up good and proper…