Coming from a small town, I was not yet acquainted with the highs and lows of having to use city transportation. In first year, I avoided them as much as possible. The numbers confused me, I didn’t know what street was what, and most of the time I got on to the wrong one. It takes a while to get used to memorizing what buses can get you to where you want to go. What I never realized was that this was only half the battle.
Once you’re on the likely over-crowded bus you are witness to a number of crazy characters interacting in one small place. Sure, sometimes you get lucky and have a seat to yourself amongst minimal other passengers. But for those of us who have become frequent visitors to the Kingston transit buses, you learn a few things that make your trip just a little bit easier.
1. If you don’t use Google maps, you will never know where you’re going.
Seriously. This may seem like a silly thing to learn, but it’s so important. Kingston has constant construction somewhere in the city. At some point or another, bus routes will get moved around because of it. Having this app readily available for you to figure out where you need to be and when will make your life so much easier. There are even a few bus stops that have permanently closed/moved that you might have once used regularly but can’t now. Download the app. You’ll thank me later.
2. Don’t expect the bus to be on time. It probably won’t be.
This happens for a number of reasons, but regardless it doesn’t make its frequent occurrence any less frustrating. Whether it be because of traffic, construction, or the bus having to let out passengers at every stop, prepare yourself for some kind of delay. It won’t be every time. Just plan to give yourself a 5 to 10-minute window of when you need to be at the bus stop and you should be okay. Bundle up in the winter because you never know if you’ll be there for a while or not.
3. No one has a volume control, including you.
I’m not sure why, but everyone goes tone deaf when on the bus. I know the engine can be a little loud and that sometimes you feel the need to talk over other loud passengers. But wow. The amount of people yelling their business, sometimes on a phone call, out to everyone is insane. You never think you’re that loud yourself either. Then suddenly the bus will go eerily quiet and you look at your friend realizing that everyone now knows about that embarrassing thing you did in your seminar.
4. Have you ever gone Black Friday shopping and pushed your way to the door crasher items? That’s what it’s like to ride a bus to West Campus mid-day.
It’s like a cruel race that no one ever wins. You think if you arrive early for the bus, you’ll get a seat or maybe even a place to stand where there isn’t another person attached to your hip. You’re wrong. Every stop will be a painful waiting game of, “Maybe everyone needs to get off here” but they won’t. You’ll immediately question your decision to catch a bus when you could have walked to West with your own personal space still intact. I just hope you’re not prone to feeling claustrophobic.
5. A little kindness goes a long way.
If you take up a seat in the front of the bus reserved for anyone with mobility issues, be ready to give it up when the time comes. There are many passengers who it would be unsafe, for themselves as well as those around them, to stand. Even if it means you now have to stand, if you are capable then please do. Even if you’re not sure whether someone *needs* it or not, if you have to question it then I am sure they will appreciate the seat.
6. The floors are slippery in the winter time. Don’t make my mistakes.
I’m not sure why I never consider all of the wet boots on the bus when I get on in the winter, but I don’t. Do I slip every time? Yes. Have I had a full-blown dramatic fall? Not yet, but we’re getting there. Chances are the bus driver won’t wait for you to get yourself to an available seat before speeding off down the road. Brace yourself for the sudden movements and the slipperiness of the floor.
7. Don’t be that person who takes up multiple seats. No one likes you.
I get it. No one wants to sit thigh to thigh with a stranger on a jerky bus ride. Totally understandable. But there comes a time when it’s just rude to take up multiple seats. When the bus is getting full and you can see people looking around for a seat, move your belongings. I’m sure they don’t want to sit beside you any more than you want them to sit beside you. You could at least sprinkle a bit of kindness into an unpleasant situation. They (probably) won’t bite. Put in your headphones. Everything will be okay.
8. Transferring buses is stressful and could be considered an Olympic sport.
Ever had to do a sprint from one bus to another? It’s not fun. Especially in the winter. Sitting on the bus and watching the time trying to make sure you make it on to that second bus that’s getting you to your destination is truly nail-biting. Maybe you overslept or forgot what time your class was and that’s why you’re in this mess in the first place. It doesn’t matter. That split second you have to get from bus A to B can be stressful. But when you make it on successfully, man, that’s a win.
9. When you were younger, did you ever wonder why so many adults dislike teenagers? Hop on a bus and I’m sure you’ll find out!
Now, this definitely doesn’t apply to every teenager, but the ones that do cause a scene on the bus ruin it for everyone. My friend and I once had to listen to three girls try to convince their friend to get off at a random stop so the bus would leave them behind while they stayed on. That’s some weird cruelty only the brain of a teen could create. If you’re stuck on a bus with a bunch of teenagers pushing each other around, I hope that your phone is charged and you brought your headphones.
10. Be nice to the bus drivers.
This should be a given but I have seen so many people be rude to the drivers. Sure, the buses run behind sometimes. That is far more often than not the result of other drivers on the road and not your bus driver. If you’re that frustrated, consider walking to wherever you need to go. They’re just doing their jobs. They get blamed for so many things they have no control over. Try to be the one “thank you” in a sea of disgruntled passengers.