By Anthony Bui: TRU’s summer 2019 Community Engagement Intern; also a Public Policy student at the University of Michigan with a concentration in Urban and Transportation Policy; participating in U of M’s Semester In Detroit program; originally from Grand Rapids
For most of my life, I’ve ridden buses to get to school, work, and social events. Detroit is no exception. Since I don’t have ready access to a car and I don’t have the budget to use ridesharing services constantly, I take the bus to get where I need to be.
However, everybody seems to have beef with the bus. Car drivers hate it because it’s too slow, and cyclists are hostile to it because as the bus gets into the right lane to drop off passengers, it pushes bikes either to the curb or to a car lane. Even some bus riders loathe the bus because it seems to be always stuck in traffic.
That’s why I decided to talk about the bus. We need to fix the relationship. Despite the hate, there are plenty of benefits of riding the bus.
As a bus rider, you get to experience the random acts of kindness you won’t see if you’re driving. On Tuesday, I saw a young woman giving up her seat at the front of the bus so a senior could get a seat. The next day, I saw 3 people help a man pick up cans and bottles that were strewn around the floor of the bus. Yesterday, I saw a guy clearly explain to a first-time bus rider on how to get to the airport. All of the kind gestures actually makes me happy and makes me want to help other people.
In addition to the random acts of kindness, you can see friendships forming right on the bus. I’ve seen how strangers became friends simply by riding the same bus every day. People that drive alone, which is the majority of Metro Detroiters, will never experience this! The only time someone talks to a different driver would probably be when the person rolls down the windows to cuss someone out.
Also, there’s one obscured benefit to riding the bus that makes it so compelling: you get to see more of the world as it passes outside the window. If you’re going to drive a car, you just want to get from point A to point B. You’re too busy focusing on driving that you can’t take the time to look at what’s around you. When you’re riding a bus, the bus driver relieves all of your stress so that you don’t have to worry about getting hit by traffic and you get to enjoy the city from a different perspective. I’ve discovered so many places to eat and parks to run in as a result of me riding the bus.
The bus is really an undervalued form of transportation, and it shouldn’t be. So do yourself a favor and take the bus.