Learning more about the bus

I ride the bus during rush hour. This usually means that the bus is packed to the rafters. It can also mean that the first bus or two that pass me do not stop, as they are too full for another person to board. And, sometimes the bus stops and only opens the back doors and not the front door.

There are some differences, I am now recalling, between how the bus operates here and how the bus operated in Quito. (Note: mass generalizations follow, be careful about mass generalizations because there are always exceptions)

1. The buses here all operate with the doors closed; in Quito, sometimes the front door would stay open.

2. The bus driver takes the money and makes the change; in Quito, the bus driver usually had a helper in the form of a small boy (for the working class bus) or a woman in a business suit sitting behind a small desk (for the ‘fancy’ bus) who took the money and made the change.

AND 3. in Quito if I was boarding the working class bus and it was packed, the driver would open both front and back doors and we would pile in through both. I didn’t have to worry about where I ended up on the bus, because the small boy would come by and take my money before I got off the bus.

So, what were the people doing who boarded on the back of the bus when the driver wouldn’t open the front door? This would happen sometimes in the morning when I was trying to get to work and I would not board these buses because I didn’t know if the people who boarded on the back door were paying their bus fare. I wasn’t really concerned that they weren’t paying, but I want to pay my bus fare and was concerned that I would not be physically able to pay.

I was on a very crowded bus yesterday and the bus driver opened the back door at one stop and people got on at the back door. Several moments later the guy next to me turned and handed me 10 pesos, which he had taken from the guy behind him. I passed it to the guy in front of me who asked, “for 2 or for 1?” meaning, “is this to pay the fare for 2 people or for 1 person?” (the fare is $4.50). I had no idea and looked to the guy behind me, who said for two. He passed the money forward toward the bus driver. Moments later, 1 peso and a bus fare receipt were passed back. This happened again with another rider at the next stop.

Ah ha! So, now I feel confident that I can wedge myself into the bus on the back door if I need to, pay my bus fare, and get to work on time!

5 Responses to “Learning more about the bus”

  1. Paul Says:

    Welcome back. I was afraid that with you working, we’d lose track of you.

  2. aj burke Says:

    People are very honest there. Here, no one pays to ride the streetcar, and when someone gets on and actually feeds the ticket machine we look at them in shock and wonder if we should stop them. See, there is no one checking tickets, and all but 3-4 of the streetcar stops are within Portland’s ‘No Fare Zone’.

  3. deeb Says:

    Paul – It is more difficult to post during the week, but also there are more things happening. I just have to remember until the weekend what has happened.

    AJ – People do seem to be very honest here, even to the point of being more honest that I would like sometimes. (The lawyer had to help me physically describe myself on my immigration forms, very honestly.)

  4. Beth Says:

    So if the bus driver is doing it all. Who is driving? Is he making change when he is driving? I guess if you are packed in like sardines if you wreck no one will move…

  5. deeb Says:

    Oh yeah, he’s making the change, talking to a guy in the front seats, honking his horn and swearing at the drivers around him all at the same time!

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