A buffet of buses to sample and enjoy

It’s the dedicated mass transit riders who witness the spectacular spectacles.

by John Hoff

So many exciting Twin Cities bus routes; so little time to enjoy them all.

My recent column about experiencing the exotic world of the No. 16 bus produced responses from readers who consider themselves true connoisseurs of the raw and gritty world of mass transit, suggesting some of their own favorite bus routes.

First, for a route that promises to be “dynamic” and truly a “standing room only affair,” sample the No. 20 from downtown St. Paul to the Uptown Transit Center. As always, you will want to avoid getting off in dark, unfamiliar places so you don’t get raped. (Guys, this includes you, too.)

However, both the No. 20 and the No. 16 are overshadowed by the No. 5 to Abbott Northwestern, as described by reader, rider, and writer Stephanie S., who relates her experience as follows:

“I used to take the No. 5 to Abbott Northwestern. It’s not known as a good line. When I asked a bus driver out in St. Louis Park what bus route he used to drive, he said, ‘the 5’ and many (of the riders) just groaned like, ‘Oh my God.’

“You see a lot of strollers and hear a lot of toddlers crying. There are also a lot of presumably unemployed. You see the same people riding the bus during midday, for example, and they’re not dressed for work of any kind. There are also many ill-mannered people. Some talk really loud, both women and men.

“A guy came into the bus once directly from stealing a bottle in a nearby liquor store (which he clutched, not trying to hide it) and was consequently kicked off the bus. Another rider, presumably a regular ‘5-er,’ expressed his displeasure, saying he just couldn’t believe it. Apparently even the ‘5’ bus has standards, similar to Hollywood not approving of Woody Allen.”

Stephanie added, in closing, that she believes drivers are afraid to confront unruly passengers and that if more were done about unruly passengers, others would ride the bus.

Of course, you can’t just hop on a bus route one time, like a novice and hope to experience gripping drama. It’s the dedicated mass transit riders who witness the spectacular spectacles.

It seems like the policymakers of our city focus on a lack of civility on the sidewalks, yet most of the day-to-day lack of civility actually takes place on buses. I guess policymakers prefer to drive their BMWs and evil SUVs downtown to take in a show or museum, instead of riding the bus.

John Hoff welcomes reader comments at [email protected].