Thursday, February 18, 2010

Why Is Everyone So Down On Public Transport?

In the course of all my recent (unsolicited) debates, I have found myself arguing quite frequently in favour of the local public transport system. Coming from regional NSW, where the trains are running slower than they were thirty years ago (I am not even making that up) I was surprised that a larger city with a totally decent public transport system would have so many people whining about it.

Meattrain in particular hates buses. He hates them. When he feels like catching public transport to work, he will drive to the tram station and leave his car then, despite the fact that there is a bus that comes to a stop a few blocks away from our house, goes directly to the city, and because it's so close you can get a ticket for half price. We have told him this a few times, I even offered to lend him my multi-trip, but he flat out refuses. Because he hates buses. And, you know it's not impossible that he had some kind of childhood bus trauma. When I was a lass, I lived right next to an ambulance station, and lived in constant fear that I was going to get hit by an ambulance. I think it was mainly the irony I was afraid of.

But, as someone who has at some point in their life been reliant of almost every form of transport (car, motorised scooter, non-motorised scooter*, bicycle, public transport), I have to say, I am a fan of public transport. I mean, it can be a pain in the arse, but so can pretty much everything. Public transport, however, has one particularly fantastic advantage. In a car, you pretty much have to concentrate on the road if you want to avoid Drastic Consequences. But on a bus, your attention is free to wander. I have seen some of the most fantastic things on buses.

On one particular trip, I was gazing out the window and saw just, the best thing I have ever seen in my entire life. Two teenage identical twins with their mother. One was a hipster (indie glasses, messenger bag and all that jazz), the other was a jock (the phrase "popped collar" sums it up for me). I am desperate to make this into a sitcom, or at least a series of sketches. Can you imagine? It would come to a dramatic conclusion when the jock is encouraged to beat up his twin brother for being "a fag", but then he can't do it because of brotherly love. Sensational.

I'm also a particular fan of the ads on public transport. I saw one recently, clearly from at least a decade or so ago, that I thought was great. It featured a line-up of people from various walks of life ("diversity") all putting their handbags, shopping etc on their head. The slogan was "Use your head when taking care of your belongings!" or something along those lines. The problem was, putting your valuables on your head is probably the WORST thing you could do with them. It's going to be uncomfortable, things are going to fall and spill everywhere, people can steal them much more easily, it's generally not a good idea. It made for a very confusing advertisement, but at least I got a chuckle out of it.

There was actually a kid in my high school, let's just call him 'The Busboy', who freakin loved buses. In a very weird way. He spent his free time drawing up proposed changes to current bus routes. He collected time-tables. I seem to remember him celebrating one of his birthdays at the local depot. I haven't seen this guy in a long time, but I can only imagine he is currently enjoying a lucrative career in the public transport industry. All power to you, Busboy.

-Smackie Onassis

*I used to scoot along to the bus stop, go to uni, then scoot from class to class. It was great, and also fulfilled my long-time hobby of being a walking sight gag. Or, scooting sight gag in this case. When I was bored at work, I used to scoot around the shop, casually dismounting when a customer came in and got confused. My boss didn't care because he thought I was great. Also he wasn't there at the time.

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