Taking the bus isn’t scary

There is a phenomena in this country that baffles me. If you live in New York City, you take public transportation all the time. Mostly the subway, but also other trains, buses, taxis, etc. I’m guessing the main idea behind doing this is that it would take you longer to reach your destination and be more of a hassle than if you drove a car.


There are the obvious upsides of using public transportation. First, you can do other things during the trip, such as check your email, read the newspaper or read a book. Second, if you don’t own a car, it’s much cheaper. Third, you don’t have to worry about where to park.

[bctt tweet=”No one questions why anyone uses public transportation in New York City.”]

However, in many other cities in the United States, riding the bus comes with an indelible stigma. Here in Florida, if you ride the bus, it is assumed you are poor. Car culture is dominant, and there is fear associated with riding the bus. The standard urban myths about the bus go like this: “It’s dirty. It’s unreliable. It’s unsafe. It doesn’t go where I need to go when I need to go there.”

In most cases, those rumors are false, but I can only vouch for the bus systems I’ve used. The one I’m currently using is located in Pinellas County, Florida.

Shopping with ease

A few weeks back I needed to return a pillow at Bed, Bath & Beyond and buy another one or two in its place. My bike bag is pretty spacious, but it I was worried that it couldn’t handle multiple bed pillows. I checked the bus schedule and walked one block to the nearest stop. The bus arrived on time and dropped me across the street from my destination. After getting my money back for the unwanted pillow, I took someone’s suggestion to go to Marshall’s next door for a better selection.

Marshall’s not only had a better selection, but their prices were better as well. They sold pillows in packages of two that were half as much as the one pillow I had just returned. Because I did not want to have to come back and return more pillows, I picked out an assortment of five pillows of varying firmness.

So now I’m walking out of Marshall’s with five pillows – two pairs each in a plastic bag for packaging and one in a box. As you can imagine, this was more than a little awkward. I stuck the box under my arm and held one bag of pillows in each hand as I walked to the corner of the parking lot, crossed the street at the stoplight, turned left down the sidewalk and walked about a block to the covered bus stop kiosks. The kiosk had a wooden bench on each side. The seat was clean and empty, so I sat down on one side and plopped my purchases down next to me.

Public transportationThe bus pulled up before too long, and I got two seats to myself – one for me and one for my pillows. I wasn’t in a hurry (as I try not to be), and I didn’t have to deal with any traffic hassles on my journey. I answered some work-related emails on the ride back and brainstormed new business ideas. Before I knew it, my adventure was over, and the bus driver was letting me out a few blocks from my apartment.

Myth busted

This is what I’ve found about my local bus service:

  • The bus is clean and on-time.
  • The people are lovely.
  • The price can’t be beat. (Both financially and psychologically.)

Do me a favor and don’t poo-poo the bus until you’ve thoroughly experienced it. Taking the bus isn’t scary once you get into the public transit groove.



  • I think the stigma around public transport, particularly outside of large metro areas, is that it is for the people who can’t afford a car, and/or the “weirdos” who CAN afford an auto, but enjoy sitting next to commoners for whatever reason their eccentricity demands.

    Factor in most people don’t like other people (whether they admit it to themselves or not), combine that with class consciousness (just another way of separating oneself from the madding crowd) and awareness of germs and fear of illness (which, even for the least xenophobic person, has SOME legitimate concern behind it), and you have a pretty strong gut feeling AGAINST public transport.

    Not saying I agree, you understand, but I certainly see why some people view it as they do. For the better part of two years, I rode the MAX here, and had no real issues with sniveling people sneezing their disease on me, or poor people getting their poverty on me. I can’t say I made any friends, though….and I didn’t come out of that period liking people more, either.

    I think the answer is Love. But that sounds too hippy/New Age to be considered a serious solution….

    • Elsie Gilmore

      We are all “commoners”, my dear. No one is more important than anyone else in this world, and that’s a fact. Also, exposure to germs generally helps our immune system. Seclusion doesn’t. Yes, the answer is love, and it’s hard to love or understand those from whom you isolate yourself.

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