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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    The people on the bus…

    In 2005 Sun Tran, the extraordinary public transportation service here in T-Town, was named “”America’s Best Public Transit System”” by the American Public Transportation Association. That is quite a mouthful for a collection of buses filled with the most diverse assortment of people you don’t want to meet. Get ready to hold your breath: I am about to pass judgment.

    The No. 4 bus that runs up and down East Speedway Boulevard is my main method of getting to and from campus. It is also a habitat for people who pour mini bottles of tequila into their Thirstbusters, people who roll joints in the back seat and people who need a place to pass out under a newspaper blanket. I have sat next to all of them.

    It seems that there is an unwritten rule for all bus passengers: Make everyone think you are having a bad day. Literally by the looks on their faces, one might mistake a Sun Tran full of passengers to be a train to Auschwitz. Maybe that’s a bit extreme, but I just don’t see any joy. All I see is people trying to avoid eye contact. What gives? This is a great way to get depressed real fast. But it gets better.

    The homeless guy that made the bus stop for 20 minutes while Sun Tran officials and police tried to pull him off really made my day. The chatter around the passengers brought out that he had been on for hours, and had also peed himself. Another passenger started fighting for the homeless guy’s rights, like his right to stay on a public bus. He got a bit belligerent with his rants about the evils of Sun Tran to kick a man off the bus, and got himself taken off as well. The transsexual admittedly high on cocaine at the bus stop was fun, too. I have so many stories like this I could write a series of novels.

    Why do buses attract crowds of dirty, rancid-smelling people? Why are bus stops meccas for the drunk guys who don’t stop asking for cigarettes? And what can be done to fix this? What can be done to keep the busses clean for the rest of us?

    It would be horribly wrong to selectively choose who can board and who can’t based on appearance. I wouldn’t get on half of the time. The people who talk to themselves pay the same dollar that the clean-cut guys do. We can’t patrol buses looking for seedy-looking people. We can’t require some hygiene code.(At least, not easily). Not even New York City has rules like this. I think we’re stuck.

    There is no reasonable method to make a bus ride less creepy. So I crank up my iPod, play my Nintendo DS, and wear my sunglasses and pretend I’m already home. And that’s all we can do. That and keep a bottle of hand sanitizer handy.

    Alan Fullmer is a journalism senior and the photo editor of the Arizona Summer Wildcat. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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