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The bus is not that bad: tips for bus commuting

Most kids grow up singing "The Wheels on the Bus," but sometime in adolescence/adulthood, many people start thinking that the bus is somehow gross and not worth their while. But you couldn't be more wrong! I've been riding the bus for at least 25 years (remember, I grew up without a car and still don't have a driver's license) and I'm here to tell you: it's not that bad. 

You can always dress up to ride the bus, and pretend like you live back in the day when very dignified people used the bus to commute.

Why ride the bus? It's cheaper than having a car, you won't be arrested for texting while riding the bus, and it's more environmentally friendly (lots of people in one vehicle, vs. everybody in their own vehicle).

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round & Round
Buses don't give change. If you're paying in cash, make sure you have the exact amount. For safety reasons (and expediency), you have to pay the correct amount. If you aren't sure how much that is, check your city's bus website or ask a bus-using friend. Tickets are cheaper than cash; passes are cheaper than tickets (per use). If you're using the bus once, for one ride, then use cash. If you'll be using it a few times, you might as well pick up a pack of tickets, which will make each ride slightly cheaper. If you're planning to bus commute for awhile (yay, you!) then a bus pass will be the cheapest option per-ride.

The Wipers on the Bus Go Swish Swish Swish
Plan your route ahead of time. Many bus services have partnered with Google Maps so you can type in your route plan, and they'll tell you which bus to catch and where and when. This is handy if you, like me (and most stereotypical men) hate asking for directions, so you can look like you know what you're doing. That being said, you can always ask bus drivers for advice if you need it to. At least here in Saskatoon, they are happy to help. I mean, it is their job to help you, after all.

The Doors on the Bus Go Open & Shut
Some bus doors open when you push them. Some of them you have to put your hand on it and then it opens via hydraulics. Some of them you have to wave your hand in front of a certain spot, and then it opens via hydraulics. I don't know why they're all different; but they should be marked with what sort of mechanism it's using. When in doubt, wait for someone else to get off the bus first.

The People on the Bus Go Up & Down
Only sit directly next to another person if there is NO OTHER OPTION. You should always give everybody a lot of personal space. It is perfectly acceptable to take up two seats by yourself if you have lots of bags (i.e. grocery bags). But if the bus starts to get full, you should offer up the second seat to somebody else. Or else don't be surprised that someone will suddenly appear and wedge themselves in between you and your bags. 

Also: people may talk to you, who you don't want to talk to. This may happen even if you are a) reading a book while b) listening to music in headphones. That being said, the book/headphones combo will work 9 times out of 10. Discussions with Bus People can be funny, uncomfortable, or boring. This isn't a reason to avoid the bus, though. It comes with the territory - like when you drive a car, you have to put up with other cars cutting you off, or traffic jams. Nothing is perfect.

The Driver on the Bus Says "Move On Back"
Seriously - sit towards the back of the bus. The seats at the front are for old people, people in wheelchairs, and people with strollers. If you sit there, you'll have to get up and move back anyway, so sit towards the back to begin with. Also: say "hello," to the driver when you get on, and say "thank you" when you leave. It's just polite. Treat them like you would any other service industry person, like a waiter or a cashier or a barista -- politeness is never out of style. Bus drivers are very special people, too, in that they have to do customer service while also driving safely, while also acting as security guards. So they really deserve your thanks.

... All through the town!

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