How To Ride The Bus

You are all forewarned that the following is supposed to be taken as sarcasm, even though it is based upon the aggregate of my observations during nearly 20 years of riding public transit in the San Fernando Valley.

I have become convinced that there are too many people trying to use public transit who lack the common sense to do so effectively. I suspect that, after you read this opinion article, you may well agree, even if you think I am being unkind in making that observation.

It wouldn't surprise me if there was an instruction card available, titled "How To Ride The Bus", reading as follows:
  1. Walk to the nearest street corner with a Metro sign posted. Do not read the sign to see if the bus you want stops there or if the buses that stop there go in the direction you are traveling.
  2. If the bus does not arrive within one minute, walk to the curb edge and look up the street, as if you could see it coming from farther than a few blocks away.
    If you are a senior citizen, instead of walking to the curb, give everyone else waiting at the stop an angry look, as if they are responsible for the bus not having arrived within 30 seconds of your getting to the stop. After all, everyone knows public transit is there for your convenience and no one else's.
  3. If the bus still has not arrived within another two minutes, run into the street and look for it, as if your doing so will make it arrive sooner. Repeat this step approximately every 90 seconds.
  4. When the bus finally arrives, make sure you are the first one who boards; the bus might leave without you if you let anyone else board first.
    Remember: Do not, under any circumstances, look at the bus destination sign to see if you are boarding the correct bus ... every bus that stops where you are standing has to be your bus. Should you accidentally read the destination sign, be sure to ask the operator "is this the (whatever number you think the bus is)?" or "do you go down (whatever street you are boarding the bus from)?" anyway. Ignore the answer, whatever it is.
  5. Now that you are standing in front of the farebox, look for your fare or pass. If you do not have exact change, ask "since when don't bus drivers make change?"
    (For the record: October 12, 1969 was the date RTD adopted the "exact fare" policy.)
  6. Remain on the bus until one of the following happens:
    • The bus turns when you thought it was going to go straight;
    • The bus goes straight when you thought it was going to turn;
    • The bus goes past your stop, because you got on a limited-stop or Rapid bus ... if this happens, shout "hey, you passed my stop!" to the operator in the loudest voice possible;
    • The bus gets to the end of the line and the operator makes everyone get off the bus; or
    • The bus gets to your stop. Aren't you lucky, you managed to actually board a bus that goes where you thought it would!
  7. Go back to step 1 and repeat the process until you somehow get to where you are going, despite your best efforts to prevent yourself from doing so.
(Note: At no point during steps 1-3 should you consult a timetable for the bus, even if you have one. If you do not have the timetable, ask the operator of the bus if he has one. If he does, use it for one day, then throw it away and ask for another one tomorrow. If he does not have one, complain bitterly that "they never have the schedules on the bus".)

The sad thing is that none of the abovementioned passenger behaviors would be unavoidable if there was the slightest hint of a thought process present. Obviously, there isn't. So, next time you are riding the bus, watch the people who are riding with you.

And try not to laugh.

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