Riding the bus brings challenges

Mar 4th, 2009 | By | Category: Commentary

Jessica Lynn Green

Contributor

The metal seat has a too-thinly stuffed plastic cushion. A ticket costs three dollars for a day-pass, and a one-way ticket is a dollar (add ten cents to that amount for a transfer).

Small windows allow passengers to see outside where sunshine reflects across the pavement.

People crowd close, breathing heavy as they try and get a gander at book titles or what’s in a purse as those items are clutched closer for safekeeping.

A baby begins to squall. Welcome to life on a Springfield City Utilities bus line, where your ride is perpetually five minutes early or late so you have to stand outside and brave the elements that much longer.

For those of us college kids who happen to not own a car and live far enough from campus for walking to be a hassle, this is what we are reduced to: the bus.

While this convention isn’t exactly convenient at the best of times (like getting anywhere in town in under half an hour since an average bus ride is forty-five minutes), it can certainly be helpful at the worst of times (like when bad weather strikes and you can’t walk, get a ride, or—if you have one—move your car).

Riding the bus may sound dodgy—I mean, who wants to listen to unruly children make huge fusses because their parents won’t continue their chocolate bar bribes?—but the experience of riding the bus can really give a person insight into how people interact and antagonize or support one another.

Of the antagonists, there are the gangster’ wannabes; the preppy girls who put others down as if they are continually having their reputations attacked; the heavy smokers that get packed in small spaces; the Goth crowd that wears their spikes and chains while the elderly and unadorned ogle them disapprovingly; a certain fanatic who proselytizes his religion on the unwilling; and running beneath all human influences the crowding on the bus, the small space and the overpriced fare.

I have seen many faces as they get on and off the bus, but more than anything I see distinct members of the lower and middle class, hard-working people who just need the bus to get around.

They are the people who carry and end up in discussions over the literary works they hold in their hands and read to pass the noisy motor and metal squeal sounds the bus makes.

For many, riding the bus appears to be shameful. They hide their faces and stare out the windows, or they glower at everybody.

Not that I can blame the glowering. I’ve done that a time or two so people who like to stare would stop. That’s a bad habit a lot of people on the bus have: staring.

But why do they stare? Perhaps they are seeing as I am seeing, seeing these faces going different places and wondering how the people they belong to are in their minds? There is a lot of introspection on a bus.

While there are only so many things that can happen on a bus, aside from general wondering about others you see, I find it important to remember safety measures—especially if you are riding alone.

As a long-time bus rider, here are a few tips. First, you want to look confident; that keeps others from thinking you look like somebody they want to bother.

Staying quiet tends to help keep you out of trouble but can get you in a lot of involuntary discussions.

Keeping to well-lighted areas of the terminal or the bus stops will help avoid people potentially sneaking up on you at night.

Finally, either keep hold of your belongings at all times or keep them in your pockets so you don’t lose anything.

If you think you want to utilize the bus system, you can find the transit center downtown off of Park Central West on Patton and McDaniel Street.

If you need more direct help with figuring out what bus to ride, you can call (417) 831-8782.

City Utilities Transit information can be found at: https://www.cityutilities.net/transit/transit.htm

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