Upon entering the world of public transportation, I discovered two things. There is a definite stereotype about people who ride the bus, and although part of it is true, most of it is false.
I myself had preconceived notions about riding the bus. I felt like the only people who would tolerate the long detours and added time of taking public transportation were a) poor people who couldn’t afford a vehicle or gas, b) crazy, homeless people who used the bus fare to stay warm for awhile, or c) environmentally friendly, tree-hugger types of people who used carpooling to save the ozone from all the exhaust spilling from cars on the freeway.
While I have met my fair share of mentally ill, socially awkward individuals on my bus commutes from Provo to Salt Lake City, and while I have encountered a few poor, starving college students like myself who can’t afford more than a one-way bus pass, I have also realized that for the most part, my judgments were completely inaccurate. Public transportation is a way of life for millions of normal, working people across the world and it is viewed as completely functional and acceptable. If you moved to New York City, you would almost be a fool to use a car on the jam-packed streets rather than use its subway system. The majority of Europeans don’t even own cars and rely heavily on their trains and subways to get them around.
With the new TRAX system being installed in December, it will actually be faster to commute from Provo to Salt Lake City using public transportation than driving a car on the freeway, not to mention much cheaper. The Utah Transit Authority is making travel much more efficient and cheap in Northern Utah and more people need to start taking advantage of it. In talking to one friend about the low use of public transportation in Utah, he said, “Americans are addicted to private transportation. Public transportation must increase or we will fall behind global economics.”
I would say that I have definitely been converted to public transportation and I wish that there weren’t such a negative stereotype associated with it in Utah. Even if the older buses do smell like feet and offer some awkward encounters, you can save a lot of money and, in the near future, a ton of time by choosing public transit.
Faith Heaton Jolley is currently attending UVU. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org