During the past week, I’ve spent a lot of time riding the bus. I’m visiting my son in Oahu, Hawaii. They have one car which works great for them because his wife enjoys riding the bus. He has been working this week, giving his wife and me some quality time together.
“I was warned,” she told me, “that it wasn’t safe to ride the bus. However, there are mostly elderly folks and working people.” Because it is summer there is also a generous sprinkling of teenagers, eager to get to the ocean.
I serve as a Citizen Advocate on a county coordinating board in Brevard County Florida. Therefore, I am interested in seeing the operations of the bus systems wherever I go. In Oahu, people with disabilities primarily use HandiVan’s for their work transport. I also suspect that they have a system similar to Transportation Disadvantaged in Florida because I have not seen many folks with intellectual or developmental disabilities on the city buses.
Each time I go to another state and take the time to commute on the bus, I’m impressed with several things. First, the willingness of the bus drivers to help their passengers. I can’t imagine that anyone could get lost unless they are simply too shy to ask questions.
Second, I’m constantly pleased with the quality of bus riders. Of course, there are people from the lowest economic structure who are abusing/using drugs and alcohol on the buses but they are the exception, not the rule. When a tourist couple got on the bus asking the driver to take them to what the tourist guide had called the best “shrimp truck” on the North Shore. He assure them he would show them where to get off. However, the bus was filled with “locals” who were more than willing to give their expert advice. It was agreed by unanimous decree that the best shrimp wasn’t at the truck the tourist guide recommended but at a truck much closer and easier to find.
Third, the cleanliness of the buses. Sure, by the end of the day, dirt and trash has been tracked into the bus but isn’t that to be expected? Even though the Brevard County SCAT drivers sweep and clean their buses on a regular bases, the foot traffic in a place like Honolulu is much larger. This increases the potential for dirty buses. Yet, on a whole, even in a laid-back place like the Aloha state, clean buses are the rule, not the exception.
The fourth thing is purely personal. I don’t have to worry about the traffic. If there are cars everywhere, I can busy myself with other things–such as, catching up with Facebook or writing a blog entry. Riding the bus gives me permission to do things I would not ordinarily do. After all, I’m not driving. This would be wasted time for me if I were behind the wheel–so why not spend it doing something I enjoy like reading a book or guacking out the window at the scenery and the people.
Perhaps, like me you don’t normally ride the bus; but I recommend becoming one whenever you are a tourist or traveling in an unknown town. It’s a great adventure and a wonderful way to find the “very best shrimp truck.”