Musings on Route 7

We recently moved to North Minneapolis from Detroit, Michigan (via a one-year stint in Northeast Minneapolis), and as a result, I am now a semi-regular rider of Route 7 for my daily commute. Compared to the 10 in Northeast, it’s a bit of a sleepy route, with only a 30 minute headway, and rarely is every seat full. It’s definitely not the rowdy, standing-room-only ride that my husband has on the 5 every morning.

Transit was not a particularly viable transportation option in Detroit, so even though I’m a transportation professional by trade, there are some things about riding the bus that aren’t really evident until you do it. Things I’ve noticed recently on the 7:

  • The woman who stopped her car in the middle of Plymouth Avenue when she saw me running to catch the bus on Monday. The wave she gave me to cross in front of her had the urgency of someone who understood what it’s like to miss the bus because you’re on the wrong side of the road.
  • The morning bus driver that I had pegged as crabby, a few days later taking great care to get a woman and her child in a stroller situated in the front of the bus…only to scold her a few minutes later for talking on the phone.
  • The toddler that waved good-bye to everyone while being pulled backwards in a stroller down the aisle on his way of the bus. And everyone that waved back.
  • The guy with the giant beard, fedora, and fur coat that gets on halfway through my ride (if I’m responsible enough to catch the 8:05).
  • The direct correlation between the liquor store opening at 8:00 am and the number of people loitering around my stop making conversation and getting on neither bus while I wait for the 8:35 am bus.
  • The evening driver who pulled up behind a car parked at a bus stop, honking and flashing lights enthusiastically…and then picking up no one. The stop was empty. “I’m sort of anal about that, you need to be able to read to get a driver’s license, and there’s no parking at bus stops.”

hennfrankbus

The thing I like about the bus is the human element –witnessing the patterns in other peoples lives, interacting with them, seeing them interact with one another. You don’t get that in a car (and only a little on a bike).


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13 Responses to Musings on Route 7

  1. Janelle Nivens
    Janelle Nivens March 18, 2016 at 7:52 am #

    Though I am not a route 7 rider, I’ve had similar experiences on other routes and agree that those interactions and observations are unique to riding the bus. I have often thought that if everyone rode the bus (or train) once in awhile they’d have a better appreciation for the diversity of abilities, needs, life circumstances, etc in our community and with any luck be a bit more empathetic and kind. When I’m my best self, riding the bus is also an opportunity to exercise my patience and on my worst days a chance to reflect on what pushes my buttons and why.

    Welcome back to Minneapolis!

    • Julia March 18, 2016 at 12:11 pm #

      I agree and I’ve had the same thought about how beneficial it’d be for the world if everyone rode the bus at least sometimes! It’s like this little bubble of public realm moving through space.

      For me, the days when I’m cranky or worried about climate change/state of the world, a bus ride is often a surefire way to get me out of myself or remind me of how much I really believe in us as a species. Some of it’s the individual stuff–eavesdropping on conversations, but there’s also the social/communal aspect, the unspoken etiquette of making room for someone in a wheelchair or with a stroller, the best bus drivers who know when to call people out and when to let things slide, the way bus riders so often look out for each other (alerting the driver to someone running for the bus or paying someone else’s fare (even exasperatedly, to keep the bus moving) or scooting back a bit further to make sure more can fit on in the winter.

      • brad March 18, 2016 at 12:52 pm #

        I agree with everything above! One additional benefit: I’ve met and become friends with people who are often waiting at the same stop or riding the same bus.

      • Rosa March 19, 2016 at 10:16 am #

        It’s been almost twenty years and I *still* get a little thrill when I’m standing all by myself at a cold, dark, snowy bus stop early in the morning and the nice lighted warm bus stops just for me. It’s kind of ridiculous.

        Though the ability of bus drivers to pay attention to traffic, dispatch, people already on the bus, and the body language of people standing on corners is pretty miraculous. Even before they go above and beyond, like noticing a regular rider walking halfway down the block and stopping for them.

  2. Heidi Schallberg
    Heidi March 18, 2016 at 8:20 am #

    Hoo boy, I’ve ridden a lot of buses so far in my life, and I never tire of hearing these kinds of stories. Some of my favorite memories are:

    – The bus driver who briefly turned out the lights inside the bus so we could better see the holiday lights in an apartment complex the route went through.
    – Watching toddlers meet each other on a bus and share toys and talk. Then see them again the next day when they saw each other again for the second time.
    – The bus driver who started stopping for me no matter where I was along my two-mile walk home from night classes. I would usually get out of class just in time to miss a bus, which was on 30-minute headways at that point, so I would start walking.
    – The bus driver who recognized me after I moved back to Kansas City after living in Denver for four years. What an unexpected welcome home!
    – Two young women who started singing on a crowded evening rush hour bus, harmonizing beautifully.

    The main reason I love riding the bus is that I don’t have to drive. My happiest state is as a pedestrian. But these stories make the days so much better. 🙂

  3. Dana DeMaster
    DanaD March 18, 2016 at 11:45 am #

    My favorite bus story Of All Time involves some bad language so be forewarned. However, the language was used in the kindest, most helpful way possible.

    When I was very pregnant I got on a very crowded, standing room only 64. I didn’t want to sit because it was the point in pregnancy where standing and swaying is more comfortable so I didn’t ask anyone to give up a seat for me. No one offered either. Then this young, black woman who was also standing shouted: “Some of you assholes need to give a seat to this knocked up cracker bitch!!” Bam! Three or four people offered their seat. I took it although I didn’t really want it because the intention was so kind. She winked at me and gave me a thumbs up.

    • Hannah Pritchard March 18, 2016 at 4:31 pm #

      That story would not be the same without the profanity. Love it.

    • Heidi Schallberg
      Heidi March 18, 2016 at 5:36 pm #

      That is one of the best bus stories ever.

  4. Monica Millsap Rasmussen
    Monica Rasmussen March 18, 2016 at 7:47 pm #

    I, too, have had similar experiences on other buses. It’s great to read about positive experiences on the bus. Thanks for writing this.

  5. John Kabacinski March 18, 2016 at 9:52 pm #

    Although I don’t really remember my experience on Minneapolis transit (I was 12 & 13) I have experienced this type of stuff on Delaware DART & DDOT (Detroit) my coworkers ask me “why do you like taking the bus?” Well yes out of the crazy drivers & passengers there are interesting ones & very funny ones like the SMART driver on the 280 from DTW she always talks to all her passengers & right after my wisdom teeth removal she had me laughing (my mouth hurt so much when I got off) then you have the driver that yelled at me for exiting out the front door (I was the only one at the stop getting on or off) or when I was yelled at for waiting at the bench instead of the sign (made him mad when I said I guess it all depends on the driver)

  6. John Levin March 21, 2016 at 10:50 am #

    Some of these stories belong on bustales.com If you haven’t been there, it’s worth a visit. The pace of the site has slowed down of late, but it’s still there, although it tends to lean less towards the uplifting and more towards the nasty these days…

  7. John DeWitt March 21, 2016 at 11:10 pm #

    I do know at least one light rail operator who went back to driving bus because he missed the people contact.

    • John Kabacinski March 21, 2016 at 11:16 pm #

      That sounds like DARTs Bill Price he started driving a bus because he wanted to talk to people instead of just selling Dupont