As a student, I use public transport quite often. In fact, I spend about two hours every week day on the bus: one hour on my way to school in the morning and one hour on my way back home. After having spent so much time riding public buses, I can confirm that it’s not nearly as dreadful as many people make it out to be. You may have to sit in close proximity to strangers and deal with irritable drivers, but there’s quite a bit of unexpected beauty that comes with taking public transport, and I’m talking about more than just reducing pollution and saving money that would have otherwise been spent on a car and parking pass. Here are just some of the serendipitous pros of taking public transport:
- A Meditation Session
Meditating while taking a bus ride is surprisingly pleasant, especially in the early morning when it’s not too packed so you can have some extra personal space. I like to sit in the back corner and stare out the window pretending I’m on a little road trip. The route and scenery never change, but I find this to be quite comforting, almost a way to keep myself centred amid the chaos and instability of student life. I also enjoy the constant light tremor of the bus, which is like the universe’s eternal Om, or a human pulse. Sometimes, I think about the previous day’s events or interesting ideas I recently learned about, but sometimes I think about nothing at all, and momentarily forget myself in the landscape.
- Some Time to Get Course Readings Done
I like to take advantage of my bus commute to get all my course readings done. In the morning, I will usually read any short articles and handouts assigned for that day so that the information is still fresh in my mind when I get to class. I prefer to leave novels for my evening ride in case I become absorbed in the story and want to continue reading at home instead of being interrupted by my arrival at school. Even if I don’t manage to finish my readings during my commute, I can usually make considerable progress, which is nice because it allows me to use most of my time at school or at home just to work on assignments (Word of advice though: Set an alarm of some kind because you might become so absorbed in your book you’ll forget where you are and miss your stop. I speak from experience). Initially, it can be hard to read on the bus because of the noise, but eventually you get used to it and learn to tune it out. It’s also fun to sneak a peek at what other passengers are reading and exchange conspiratorial glances, reader to reader.
- An Opportunity to Read Up on Current Events
If I don’t have any readings to do for school, I will spend my commute getting updated on current events and news. I do this on my phone, but I like to imagine myself reading the news in a past era, flipping through a freshly printed newspaper in unison with all the other passengers on the bus.
- Discovering Local Gems
Taking a bus ride is also a great way to get to know a city and spot interesting local shops and restaurants which you wouldn’t have heard about otherwise. For example, a lot of great mom-and-pop shops don’t advertise online through social media, so taking a bus ride with a route that you wouldn’t normally take while driving your own car is a good way to discover them. If you’re new to a city, I highly recommend taking a random bus ride just to look out for cool businesses and shops (which can also help you become familiar with your city’s geography and prevent you from getting lost in the public bus system in the future).
The best part about taking the bus would have to be all the interesting people you encounter. I’ve seen everything from a lady masquerading her dog as a baby in a stroller to a four-year-old girl dressed in a Slipknot band t-shirt and black ripped jeans to a man unironically listening to music on a Walkman. I’ve heard some hilarious conversations, including one from a guy complaining that his TV antenna was only receiving signals from one channel but who admitted he was okay with it because it played reruns of Bob Ross’ The Joy of Painting. I’ve seen two elderly people fight to the death over a seat and couples in the middle of breaking up, and I don’t even think I’ve seen it all yet. If you ever want every facet of human nature staged before you–the good, the bad, and the ugly–all you have to do is take a bus ride.