The public transit system here is interesting. It is better than the one I grew up with, but poor for one in a “big” city. Nonetheless, I use it so that we can function as a one-car family despite us working in very different parts of town.
One of my “favorite” aspects of our transit system is timing. I swear this is one of the only places where a bus that runs every 15 minutes (the most frequent of our buses) can still manage to be 20 minutes late. That happened to me today… And it was hardly rush hour and the weather was not poor. Apparently a bus broke down. And they didn’t send another. Then, the second one was late. Really?
When I was in Kingston on elective, the transit system was crazy busy… Not huge, but very well used and when buses were too late or too full, they dispatched extras. EXTRA BUSES. What a concept.
The other interesting thing that goes down here (and home, for that matter) is that the stops are kind of optional. What I mean is that you can sometimes, as an unspoken rule with people who live in the area for a long time, get off in a place that does not have a marked stop. Just ding the bell and the bus miraculously stops where it always has despite there no longer being a stop. The problem arises when you ding and it stops and you are still a block away from where you wanted to get off. That complicates matters.
Then, there are the times that despite your dinging the bell, the bus does not stop. This happened today. There is a stop nearish the hospital and another about a 2 minute walk down the street at the university. I rang the bell a good distance from the near hospital stop. The bus drove right on by and stopped at the university. This is not the first time it has happened. You must be thinking, well, it is not a stop for that bus. It is. I have stopped there many times before. It is listed in the schedule as a stop. However, every once in a while the driver assumes you meant the university. Today, that was fine… It was not raining or cold. Most days, it is not fine.
We have this feature on the bus website called time-track. It is supposed to tell you where your bus is and how early/late it is running. It always seems the bus I want suspiciously has “no data available.”
The schedule here is generally sparse. When I was in Vancouver, there were buses running every 5 minutes. Here, most run every 30 minutes or hourly. We don’t have the population to run every 5 minutes. This, is, however problematic because when you miss the bus. It sucks. A lot. Especially when the bus is always late and you are always early. And yet somehow, this one time, you are just on time and the bus is early. How does that happen?
There is one bus here that has a run that takes an hour. It is super unfortunate if you get on said bus going the wrong way (also possible because the route is super convoluted and does not move in the same direction as most of the others). It happened to Patrick and I once when he visited when I first moved here. We literally spent 1 and ½ hours on a bus.
On another note, I think Sheldon Cooper has it right with his bus pants idea. I need to get some of those. Nothing is more disturbing than when there is a unidentifiable (or identifiable) smell or stain on or near you. One time, I got gum on my butt. Not so much a time. I have also heard that on random sampling of any given public transit seat, there are traces of any and all of urine, semen, vomit, faces and multiple food substances. ICK!
And then there are bus people.
I am one of those awkward bus people. I am that person that when I have to stand (which happens a lot more in places that are not here) I stagger and fall and take people out with my bag. I look at standing on the bus as a work out. I am sorry to all of those who have to put up with my standing.
But, there are more awkward bus people… Buddy talking to himself (once I tried to talk back and he gave me a weird look), dude with the music so loud I can hear it over my own headphones, the lady looking for a paper and pen (most every day for a year), woman with the nasty smoker’s cough… You know who I mean. The people you don’t want to sit beside. Because they are a bit on the odd/scary side. I always seem to sit beside them. In fact, I make many friends on the bus. I just have that “I’m friendly, please talk to me” look about me. I wish I didn’t sometimes.
Again, while in Kingston, I almost got face painted and dragged to a football game because I happened to be on the right bus at the right time (substitute wrong for right). All of these very festive students got on. They clearly mistook me as someone who was also a student from their school (I really need to start looking my age) and started trying to face paint me and convince me to go to the game because it would be a good time and a great way to show school spirit. If I were more adventurous, perhaps it would have been. But, I was not. And did not want to go watch football with a bunch of drunk undergrads. So, I tried to explain that I wasn’t from there. Even more prompting. They actually tried to drag me off the bus with them.
This one time, Patrick and I were on a bus in Atlanta when this woman got mad at this blind man for trying to sit in the handicapped seat where her son was sitting. She started yelling, “You poked my kid!” To make things better, somehow another woman got mad because the first woman said something about Africa. Next thing we knew, there was much yelling about the kid woman taking care of 10 kids and such an the Africa woman talking about American freedom and someone else saying be nice to the blind guy… Meanwhile poor blind guy was just chilling, trying to mind his own business. Then, the bus driver pulled over and threatened to make us all get off. It was like out a very stereotypical movie. We were a bit scared. Then, we realized shortly after we were on the wrong bus and were in a part of town we didn’t know. That is why buses make for a good time.
Buses are great. They bring people together. You definitely learn things about others on buses. You gain a sense of community… Or at least tolerance. You sometimes gain unidentified stains or smells.
The fantastic thing about public transportation is that it is more affordable and can be more environmentally friendly. Even when it can be a bit inconvenient and annoying. It also makes for some great stories!
What is your take on public transportation? Any funny bus stories?