Riding Buses on Nicollet Ave

How many of us that live in this city own cars? How many of us just bike? How many of us just walk?

How many of us use ride share services? How many of us use Metro Transit? Or other?

These are things I’m always curious about on raw data. For myself, I bus 40% of the time, walk the other 40% and the other 20% would be ride share services such as 24-7, Lyft, etc. If I could do everything timed to be able to walk, I likely would.

I want to discuss transit stories involving the 17 and the 18 Metro Transit routes especially. What is the oddest in any form thing you’ve seen on the 18 or the 17 while on Nicollet Ave? Do you ride the bus with headphones in to tune out other riders? Do you listen in on others conversations? Read a book? What do you do on the bus? Do you thank and say hi to the drivers? Do you have something that you just CAN’T STAND on the bus? For me, clipping ones finger nails is that.

I ride usually headphone free to observe dialogues. Even if I don’t consider myself a writer, as a photographer I enjoy storytelling. I enjoy greeting the drivers and saying thank you. I was too busy doing so many things (most importantly standing up for renters) for walking, so we’re focusing on riding the bus.

I love as much as I would be a person that loves summer, riding the bus in the colder holiday months takes me back to growing up being able to enjoy all the lights. My family has the tradition of driving around well saturated areas looking at those lights. I also wonder how much money we spend a year as a city illuminating these trees.

11 thoughts on “Riding Buses on Nicollet Ave

  1. Janne Flisrand

    Riding the #2 yesterday, I was again thinking about how – given ample seats – I sit next to the window and place my bag in the empty aisle seat as a buffer against sexual harassers. I scan the bus when I board looking for the spot where I’m least likely to get unwanted attention. Waiting for the bus, I avoid waiting in the shelter (even in the cold winter wind) if there are men in the shelter.

    I waste my energy minimizing harassment risk when I’m using transit.

    When we (on streets.mn, within MetroTransit, at Transit for Livable Communities) are talking about how to make transit convenient, safe, and comfortable, if we aren’t changing the culture of sexual harassment that’s extremely pervasive on our buses, we’re missing a huge part of what makes transit feel unsafe, uncomfortable, and unpredictable for half of our community.

    1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

      The other day I was sitting across the aisle from a guy sitting in the aisle seat with the window seat open next to him. A woman asked to sit in the open window seat. He barely moves, and certainly doesn’t stand up, to let her in and she squeezes by to sit down. She apologies for the squeeze and her big coat (it was cold). He takes that as an invite for conversation.

      She tells him her name. He repeats it back wrong. There are a few back and forth exchanges correcting him. For some reason he’s also quite hard to understand, speaking rather low. She says it’s been a long week, she’s tired, and she doesn’t want to talk. Which leads him to repeatedly demand that she “say something,” adding a little nudge each time with his elbow. She says several times that she doesn’t want to.

      Not know what to do that would be effective without escalating, I got up and stood by the rear door behind him, in part in case action was going to be needed. Having finally been rebuffed enough times, he pretended he was getting off the bus and got up. I took his seat so he couldn’t come back. I wanted to say something supportive to her but didn’t know what to say and, obviously, she just got done saying how she didn’t want to talk so I decided to leave her alone.

      A few blocks later I realized he’s still on the bus, bothering another woman. The second woman loudly told him off and he finally actually did get off the bus.

      He was older, rude but not obscene, but apparently drunk. Just another day on the bus.

      1. Janne Flisrand

        That’s an any-day-on-the-bus story you observed, Adam. Thanks for sharing it here. Please keep sharing them with your friends (who are male) with the explicit comment that it was inexcusable behavior, and that it’s your responsibility to hold other men accountable for treating every person with respect.

        I’m curious what other people think would be good in-the-moment responses.

        Here are a few brainstormed ideas (which may or may not be good ideas):
        -check in with the woman being harassed if she’s ok
        -ask the woman being harassed if she’d like to trade seats with you
        -comment to other men on the bus about how unacceptable that man was being
        -reinforce the second woman’s voice, if that would be helpful, possibly to the offending guy or asking the driver to kick the guy off the bus
        -pointedly watching the inappropriate behavior (so the offending guy notices and feels judged)

        1. Jamie

          Janne – would you please send me an email? I’d like to connect with you and other commenter Adam about something I’m working on regarding the issue of sexual harassment and public transit… thanks!

          My email is jamie (dot) swezey (at) gmail

      2. Jamie

        Matt – would you please send me an email? I’d like to connect with you and other commenter Janne about something I’m working on regarding the issue of sexual harassment and public transit… thanks!

        My email is jamie (dot) swezey (at) gmail

  2. Adam MillerAdam Miller

    Yesterday, I was heading home earlier than usual (dinner plans that involve two infants have to start rather early) and found myself on the bus with a group of high school kids.

    The girl who took the seat next to me was telling her friends about a former coworker’s strange behavior, about how he would “act gay” but wasn’t, having told everyone he was straight. This led the young man in the group, whom I took to be sharing his experience as a gay young man, to say he’d only once in his life head the word “gay” used a pejorative and another friend to agree. The young man complained that doing so didn’t even make linguistic sense.

    These kids clearly live in a different world than I did when I was their age and I thought it was really kind of a nice change.

    1. Scott

      My nephew (from a rural area that will remain nameless) used “gay” as a pejorative. His Aunt and Uncle disapproved, but to no effect. He was called out by his entire friend group/fellow employees at the Midway Target when he tried it once there, and to the best of my knowledge, has never repeated what he quickly realized was a most embarrassing mistake.
      Working at the multi-national/multi-cultural Midway Target was, I think, the most trans-formative education the young man received. He also met his future wife there.

  3. mplsmatt

    I have the option of taking the 6 or the 17 for the first part of my commute in the morning and while the 6 is usually faster with a more direct route, I often choose to take the 17 instead. The crush of the crowded 6 and the congestion on Hennepin can feel overwhelming and while the 17 can also fill up (especially on cold days) it tends to be more spacious and peaceful. So my associations with the 17 are largely positive: usually a comfortable commute, listening to a podcast or reading in a relatively relaxed environment. It’s not always like that, but it’s usually worth taking some extra time in the morning in the case that it is.

  4. Farley

    I regularly wear ear buds and read to avoid conversation on the bus. I’m an androgynous queer woman who is often mistaken for a high school aged boy, which I use to my advantage. I always thank the driver, and I like when I see the same drivers on my route consistently. It must be a hard job, and I’m glad they’re there to get me home.

  5. John Charles Wilson

    I don’t own a car or a bike, and I can’t walk very far anymore. I use Metro Transit several times a week. I used to use it a lot more. At one time I was getting about 3 times my money’s worth on a monthly pass. Now I don’t quite break even but I like the convenience.

    I used to live on the 18 line. I rode the 18 and the 17 plenty of times. I would never wear headphones on a bus. I want to know what’s going on around me. The only thing worse than the drunks are the religious fanatics and fat shamers, except they’re often the same people….

    I try to politely ignore others’ conversations, except that when they are loud and boisterous I can’t exactly tune it out. “F” and “MF” at 100 decibels aren’t exactly conducive to a pleasant ride. (For me, it’s not the words themselves but the volume.)

    I often read the local free papers on the bus as a distraction from all that.

    I usually don’t say hi to drivers but I do thank them, especially if they were extra nice to me.

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