I enjoy taking public bus to and from school

To signal the bus driver that their stop is approaching, riders must pull a yellow cord.

Paul Watkins

To signal the bus driver that their stop is approaching, riders must pull a yellow cord.

A yellow cord graces the wall of the number 87 bus as I stare out the window. My stop is four blocks away, and after about a block I can pull that cord to signal my stop.

I thank the bus driver, get off, and walk across the street to where I can catch the final bus of the morning. I’m always paranoid about scheduling, but thankfully I can call Metro Transit’s hotline and get a more accurate schedule than what is posted. Six minutes until the next 74 comes. Great. Time passes slowly when you’re sitting on a cold metal bench, but it moves on eventually and the bus always comes soon enough.

I like this route in particular because it gets me so close to campus. I’ve tried other routes, but they either seem to get me to school late or get me there a half-mile away from school. This one is reliable and gets me a few hundred feet away from the campus parking lot, which is nice. Most days I even get to school early enough to do some homework.

Bus cards are only given out to students who live close enough not to need a school bus, only a fraction of the student population. Compared to taking a school bus, public transportation is more flexible in schedule and more versatile in its uses, although less efficient in its school-sanctioned purpose, as more complex routes require more transfers.

School passes, as it usually does, so I put my bag on and either wait at the bus stop across the street from campus or walk to a shelter. Depending on how late I get out, I start to walk home, about 10 blocks away, as some days that can be faster than waiting for the bus.

The 74 comes at 3:14, like it usually does, and I board it, press my bus card to the sensor, and look out the window. Only a few blocks left.

Contrary to popular belief, buses are most always populated by people with answers to questions commonly asked, perhaps about a bus route, or maybe about local destinations. The population of bus riders exemplifies the traditional American ideal of its country being a melting pot, a conglomerate of ideas, cultures, and traditions being passed on not through a genetic line, but through a cultural one.

I take the same route home that I do to school, so getting home is easy as well. I transfer to the 87 and within five minutes I’m home, ready to start again the next day.

When asked to describe what taking the bus is like, my mind sometimes falls to a blank. After all, busing is routine for me, like driving or taking a school bus for other people. Previous schools I’ve attended had an incredibly easy bus route, so easy that it seemed borderline ludicrous not to take it. I could even get a student bus pass, similar to the ones this school gives out, and not worry about fare for commuting. Different music lessons were just one or two transfers away and any destination I could want to go to was accessible by bus or train. Busing was never presented as an alternative method to driving or biking, it was just there.

Moreover, I like taking the bus. I like sitting in a sometimes uncomfortable and visually stale seat, staring out the windows as I look at scenery I’ve seen dozens of times before. Busing is what I’m comfortable with and unlike some people, I look forward to when I can look out the windows and pull that yellow cord.