Never in a million years would I picture myself riding the bus until it became an assignment. I took the assignment with an open mind and hopes of seeing something crazy. My work friend Stephanie came along with me because, lets be honest riding the bus by myself when I had never been in on one, was out of the question.
Stephanie and I took the bus on a Friday during, what would normally be class time, but class was cancelled for this particular reason. We walked over to the bus stop by University Village and waited for the next bus to come by, not knowing how much it would cost or where it would take us. After 15 minutes of waiting, bus 187 had made its way over, we got on and with $5, that covered mine and Stephanie’s fare.
I made my way over to an open space in the back of the bus with Stephanie behind me. I noticed there was different age groups inside bus 187. There were old folks, others mid-aged and some college students. As I looked around, I noticed a lot of passengers looked like they have just gotten off from work. I turned to my right and there was a young man just keeping to himself with his headphones on. I tapped his shoulder and asked if I could ask him a few questions. He looked at me weird and said he didn’t speak English, well lucky for me I am bilingual so I responded in Spanish ifs okay to ask him a few questions and he agreed.
Ivan Palma had just gotten off from work and was making his way home after a long shift. Since the bus fare is cheap he takes bus 187 East to La Verne everyday.
I don’t have a license nor a car, this is my only source of transportation other than my bike, its cheap and reliable. There’s been times where I’ve seen drunk people get on the bus but they leave you alone.
According to Governing.com, the Los Angeles County MTA Bus statistics, buses had made 360,066,200 trips back in 2012, that was a 0.15 percent increase compared to 2011. Foothill Transit operates 36 bus lines in the Los Angeles County area and offers discounts for Seniors and some college students, making it cheap to get one’s destination.
The bus made its next stop, Stephanie and I just sat there when I noticed an older woman just sitting by herself reading a book. Geraldine Alonso of Azusa takes the bus everyday to Montclair to visit her sister. She explained when the gas prices went up a few years ago, she took it upon herself to take the bus. Alonso said it was reliable and not too scary for those who had never taken the bus. I think she knew I was a bit nervous about the ride.
You always get a few people who are a little out there, it happens when you get in a bus full of strangers. One time a girl started yelling and cussing at a man because she said he was staring at her. I don’t even remember how that started, I just remember looking up because I was listening to music but still able to hear the girl screaming. Who knows how that situation ended.
As I look around to interview another person I noticed a young girl got on the bus at the Claremont stop. She looked like she was around my age and seemed approachable. I switched seats to sit near her and began speaking to her. Maria Lopez was on her way to work and the bus was the only thing she had to get her to her destination. Maria never learned to drive so she takes the bus.
I learned when I was approx. 8 years old, I would take my Nana to her doctors appointments. I really learned through Trial & error!! There were times when I had no idea where I was going. This was before smart phones & gps. I had to rely on my natural instincts and common navigation. With this method, you really need to know where North is; Once you figure out your geographic location, everything else is pretty straightforward.
Lopez had explained the bus routes in such a way that even I, myself found it so easy to take the bus back to Azusa from Montclair. My worrisome had gone away while the bus ride was nothing but a simple yet cheap way to get to your destination. A smart way to get to places, thats what some would say. I can go back home to Oxnard and let my parents know that I had finally learned to take the bus but I will still be using my car.