June 23, 2008
Step 2: Read The Plain Dealer's full page article about how to ride the bus.
Step 3: Hit the streets confident in your newly discovered bus-riding knowledge.
I am all for encouraging people to use RTA in Cleveland (and transit systems in other cities), but do we really need a newspaper to teach us how to ride? Since when did riding a bus become so complicated that we needed a full page article with instructions? When I read The Plain Dealer article, I felt like the RTA bus is being described as some sort of futuristic innovation; something that we look at it in awe and wonder how such a magic devise works...
In a lot of ways, the article reminds me of a clip from Family Guy, which for copyright reasons, is no longer available online. Hopefully this transcript will suffice:
*Context* Peter Griffin and Carter Pewterschmidt board a public bus.
Carter: So, these people live here?
Peter: No, this is a bus. People ride it to get places that they need to go.
Maybe I'm being a little harsh on The Plain Dealer; maybe our culture really is confused when it comes to riding the bus? If so, what does that say about our culture? We're smart enough to learn how to drive cars, understand traffic laws and social norms, and learn road maps and routes (at least we did before GPS got big); by comparison, riding the bus should be a piece of cake.
Recent ridership figures across the country show that $4 gasoline is bringing people out of their cars and onto transit systems. It isn't that we were unable to ride the bus in the past, and it wasn't that we couldn't figure out how, it is simply that we didn't want to. Perhaps The Plain Dealer should be more focused on why we should get out of our cars and onto buses, not how to physically do it.