Sunday, December 10, 2006

Guide to Understanding the Pittsburgh Bus System:

You pay when you get on if the bus is going TOWARD downtown. You pay when you get off if the bus is going AWAY from downtown. You pay when you get on if the bus is not going through downtown at all like the 64A, or if the bus has a U in the title like the 59U. You pay when you get on any bus if it is after 7:00 pm. If you need a transfer, get it when you pay your fare.

You pay for the bus if you are a temp worker or a food worker or a sex worker or a zoo keeper or a bookkeeper or a barkeep or a docent or self employed. You don’t pay if you work for the University of Pittsburgh or Carnegie Mellon or can prove you are on your way to public school or that you are over 65 years old except between 4:30 and 5:30pm. Your parents pay for your bus fare if you are a student of these schools and it’s called an Activity Fee. If you are paying for the bus, a transfer will cost you fifty cents extra or half that if you are between the ages of six and eleven.

Each bus route has a pamphlet with a map and a timetable, and most pamphlets contain two or three overlapping bus routes. Stand in the cold wind and unfurl your pamphlet if you have the right one on your person, check and see if it tells you when the next bus is coming; if it’s a weekend and your destination is less than an hour’s walk, don’t bother waiting in the frigid air. Be your own bus: the body circulates better when it’s in motion, and you’ll get there at about the same time.

When on a sardine-sandwich packed bus at 5:15 after a long work day after an ice storm in December in crawling stop-go traffic and the bus driver has lost her wits and keeps letting on more bodies, and a passenger in back has become vociferous and keeps yelling at the driver, and they start going back and forth, the bus driver with There’s no more busses, the passenger with There’s no more room (Miss), the bus driver with Move it to the back!, the passenger with Someone just fell out the back door, Miss! the bus driver with I’m the last bus, the passenger with I’m serious there’s no room, Miss, the bus driver who has lost her wits and lets on more and more until there are more bodies than you think you can hold your temper against, when on this bus consider whether it is possible to let go of your pride and your so-called principles, whether it is possible to let yourself out the back door of the prison that your own rigid body has become, and sway and laugh in the crush of your fellow riders.


Blogger Sean Maloy Eno said...

fantastic! "be your own bus."

10:03 AM  

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