This one's for the bus riders

Jul. 13, 2013 @ 03:31 PM

You can tell a lot about a community from the bus stops. How busy it is, how public transit is used versus private vehicles. How tired the people are who are waiting for the bus.

Everyone I’ve ever seen at a bus stop looks tired. Waiting for a bus is tiring, especially when there’s nowhere to sit. I don’t need to be a regular bus rider to know that.

My job does not lend itself to following a bus schedule, and, knock on wood, I have a reliable car. But I’ve ridden on subways many times, and have taken the best transit deal in New York City -- $2.20 fare from LaGuardia Airport to Morningside Heights. My kid loves riding any bus. We went to the Festival for the Eno, and since the river was too high to play in, he said the highlight of the day was riding the shuttle bus. But I doubt it’s fun for everyone.

Recently, we drove past the bus stop at Lynn Road and South Miami Boulevard in Eastern Durham County, and I said to my son: “That’s a bus stop.”

“Where?” he asked.

“That gravel area on the corner,” I said.

“But there’s mud there,” he said.

Indeed. There’s no shelter, either, or even a bench. There is a trash can. There are ruts from big trucks driving on it, and hence, the muddy area after it rains.

There’s some hard living right there, when you’re waiting for the bus on a mud-and-gravel corner with not even a bench to sit on. I’ve seen moms waiting with little kids. I’ll bet they’d like to sit down while they wait, considering they walked to that stop from home, and the closest buildings to the stop are a car lot and two churches.

As a teenager, on days off from school when my friends and I took the Metro into Washington, D.C., we rode with commuters. At the end of the day, they all looked so unhappy. Seventeen-year-old me thought, oh, the rat race must get you down, I don’t want to be part of that. What I didn’t realize is they were just tired. They worked all day and they were going home. Their expressions were like deflated balloons. The long commute face, if you will.

But subway commuter face is different than bus face. Subway face is climate controlled. Bus face is more weary, because bus trips are generally long. And sure, maybe some people ride the bus to be environmentally responsible, but I’d wager the rest do it because if they want to get from A to B, the bus is their only option. I’d also wager they don’t live on Easy Street.

My point is that while they wait, they need a decent place to rest and protection from the elements.

 

Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan may be reached at dvaughan@heraldsun.com or 919-419-6563.