Tales from the bus: Public transportation communities

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Tales from the bus: Public transportation communities

If you’re planning to use public transportation services like the morning express bus to get to work, you may find yourself becoming part of a new close-knit community. This is especially true on buses transporting workers into large cities. These bu…

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If you’re planning to use public transportation services like the morning express bus to get to work, you may find yourself becoming part of a new close-knit community. This is especially true on buses transporting workers into large cities. These buses often see the same 7am and 4pm crowd each day.


-image courtesy of VisitingDC.com

With each scheduled stop, a new member of the community boards the bus, fresh with stories. The 3 different bus drivers that run the route know everyone’s name and actively participate in discussions. The woman with the problem teenager boards early on, and her son’s grades become public forum. The plumber who uses the bus to transfer to another route offers disciplinary advice. Everyone is down on their luck somehow, but “getting by.” Perhaps these communities are the reason. Some of these faces are clearly frustrated with life, yet, the therapy of joining with a community of understanding souls, even for an hour each day, seems to be social therapy.

When we talk about environmentally and socially responsible change, we often look at utilities and their primary concerns — buses are economical alternatives to pollution-causing traffic jams. Sometimes the little pictures get lost in the landscape. Buses connect people — not just to their destination, but to other people. It takes strangers from completely different locations and backgrounds, bound only to a bus route, and creates a social support structure.

It may take a little while for you to find your way in, but it will eventually happen — the moment someone asks you where you’re going and what you do. Eventually, they will know a little bit about you: your aspirations, your passions, your disappointments and your stop. The woman who boards mid-route with an unlit cigarette in her mouth becomes Martha, a nurse and mother of two girls. Her husband’s snoring made everyone laugh this morning.

Tags: public transportation

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