The Psychology of Bus Riding Part Three–Stigma

As I mentioned in my first post on the “Psychology of Bus Riding”, “The most surprising responses was from a local environmentalist that said taking the bus was a poor person’s way of travel.” It’s strange to quote myself. That statement is actually true but so what! Judging from what I’m reading we are all getting poorer while the top 1 percent are getting richer.

 From my perspective the poor and homeless are not the reason for our warming planet. They are as carbon neutral as you can get. Riding a bus gives you a better picture of what’s happening in the real world instead of ignoring problems as you drive by in your car.

But the poor are not the only people who ride the bus. There are the young students getting to school. For unknown reasons some parents use the MTA for getting their kids from Fort Bragg to the Mendocino Schools. There are the old folks who no longer drive but need to shop or just get around the coast. There are working people who use the bus to get to and from work. There are the teenagers who don’t drive yet. There is the woman who travels from Gualala in the far south part of Mendocino County three times a week for life saving treatment at the Fort Bragg Dialysis Clinic. I remember one man using the bus and Amtrak to tour the country visiting professional baseball stadiums. Then there was the professional ballet dancer sitting in back of me getting directions to the Bay Area. There was that young man who just got out of the County Jail who was complaining about the bigger inmates that stole his food (I realize this doesn’t help my narrative). I have no idea what was going on with one young man who brought onto the bus a full cage of cockatiels. Since I’ve been riding the bus with my bike I’ve noticed more and more bike riders doing the same thing with as many as four bikes on the bus. People touring the coast on bikes have used the bus. There are also the travelers just passing through. This traveler gave the MTA a five star Yelp review, “More to the point, I left my wallet and travel papers on the 60 “Coaster” when I transferred to the connecting 75 to Ukiah. The driver found it, called his dispatch, another individual couriered it to Ukiah, and the driver of the 75 (making a return run in the mid-afternoon) met me at the same stop where I disembarked in Ukiah to hand-deliver it to me.

I feel even ostensibly good karma can’t ask this level of service. MTA has my heartfelt thanks.”

And finally let’s not forget the new Pope. “This is often reflected in his very humble lifestyle, despite his position. One much-cited example of his personal (and very Franciscan) commitment is that he takes the bus.”

I searched all over the internet for pictures of poor people on buses. Couldn’t find any. But apparently you can ask Yahoo anything and get answers. I found two examples of this. This one asks the question, “Does riding the bus mean you’re poor?” And this one asks the question, “How gross is it to have to ride the bus with poor people?” He states, “I’m applying to colleges and I’m looking at an urban campus so I can be close to bars and clubs and stuff… I really dont want to have to ride a smelly bus with a bunch of poor people and crack addicts everywhere. I told him I’d probably get sick if I had to ride the bus. How can i convince my dad to buy me a car to take with me?” The answers to his question take him to task. One states, “Not nearly as gross as the people who ride the bus having to share it with someone like you with such an arrogant attitude. And come to New York City. You’ll see rich CEOs who make 6 figure salaries commuting on the subway to avoid having to deal with gridlocked rush hour traffic.”

This article from a former Federal Auditor at the Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, titled, “The Bus Stigma” make these statements, “In the United States, riding the bus carries a social stigma, as if riding a bus is a humiliation. In fact, years ago when I was working in a hotel in Baltimore, one co-worker said Baltimore’s transit system, the MTA, stood for “Move Those Africans.” That coworker’s observation stuck with me all these years, not just because it was racist and condescending, but because it was also an indication that only the poor (blacks) rode the bus where Real Americans drove cars or, at least, took the train…We Americans are in love with our cars and, because of the stigma attached to it, will use the bus only when we can’t afford other means of transportation.”

This last article lead me to one of my favorite blogs, Snob On a Bus. This person no longer blogs about her bus riding because of her move to Chicago but her adventures on the Los Angeles Transportation System makes me smile when I read them. Her bio is, “I have never taken public transportation in my life. I have taken a train here and there, and a party bus….but never the METRO! I recently got rid of my car to “go green”, well, and because the lease was too expensive. So I have a beachcruiser … and the bus system. These are my life learnings (or woes, or wtf moments) from the Los Angeles Public Transportation. It is one hell of a ride!” She alway starts out with a “visual”, “Purple plaid lululemon jacket atop a grey pair of crops sit on the bus today. My Nike Dunks with the mismatched shoe laces tap vigorously as the bus fills way up. My purple aviators look around taking it all in today.”  Give her blog a read. It would have been fun to ride the bus with her.

Let’s not forget the “weirdo” who is riding the bus to make a statement on climate change and pursue his passion for birding.

The next edition of “The Psychology of Bus Riding” will be about how to avoid sitting next to the “weirdo” followed by the last edition about “proper bus etiquette”.




One thought on “The Psychology of Bus Riding Part Three–Stigma

  1. Psychology of Bus Riding Part Four–How not to Sit Next to the Weirdo – greenbirdingmendo

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