As many passengers are willing to assist in flipping the seats up for a boarding wheel chair patron, their ability to locate the seat hook lever often ends in frustration, or if found, still ends without a flip-up because they don't pull-down and away. Having my interior view mirror correctly angled, I can come to the "rescue" by demonstrating the correct way to flip-up the seats. This adds one more passenger to the list of those that can help open up this space in the future, and keeps a vested interested in departing as soon as possible from the bus stop.
On our older coaches, the forward facing seats do drop down randomly, much to the surprise of anyone not anticipating a loud noise. So I always try to set the seats myself. And to make sure I hear the click when the chair is secure. I can also ask if the boarder is ready. Usually, they give a sign that they are locked-in and secure. If I cannot see them because the aisle is full, I have learned the hard way that I must ask first, before starting. I must also be patient with food carts, strollers, and any other odd sized object a passenger may be carrying.
If not, I will hear the sound of apples and oranges thumping and rolling on the floor. Or the sound of a paper bag ripping and falling on the floor. When a body falls, we usually can't hear it, unless a cane is involved.
The saving grace is that when the bus is packed, the other human bodies do act as a nice cushion against a full on-the-floor knock down. Wheel chair users almost always holler if they are not locked-in and I start rolling. "We're rolling!" is a command I usually issue if I cannot see.
A rule that seems to be lost on most boarding passengers is that if they are holding an oversize object like a surf board or a floor lamp, permission must be secured by the operator before bringing the item on board. The sense of entitlement would-be passengers have without questioning safety issues, is astonishing. I have allowed a glass-topped end table on board. And a floor lamp with light bulb and torchiere. But all of these fragile items were after the seats were flipped-up, and the coach was relatively empty. The passengers were also counseled on proper etiquette before boarding: it is not a given that you can use muni as a moving company.
No, you can't bring a red metal gas can on board, even if you say it is empty. No, car batteries are not allowed. Muni is not triple A, and we are not a moving company; though I can think of instances where this has been true. It is a bummer if your car is out of gas or needs a jump, but a bus is not the vehicle to get gas or a new battery and bring it back to your car. It's just the lack of humility in requesting a ride that is usually accompanied by a lack of judgement about what Muni is and is not. Boa constrictors, birds of paradise, all things great and small board with their owners.
I can't think of a single species that has not been claimed as a pet or guide animal. In any case, the flip-up seats have saved many a tense situation in passenger relations if I have the wherewithal to flip-up the seats for an oversized object. And the gratitude I receive feels good. I do like the idea that things get carried and brought-on that no other transit agency would allow.
The fact that you could find a great lamp or piece of furniture to bring home, without a cab or moving truck, and consider muni, is a very rare and precious commodity that makes San Francisco unique. I would hate to be a part of an end to that perception. Keeping Zen is keeping the flip seats available for whatever may come my way!