It’s summer, it’s hot and there’s not much solace to be found on the 94-degree bus. Whether the air-conditioner is broken, or if it ever existed, doesn’t seem to matter. I am sweating.

After deciding to drop $20 on the UTA pass and doing my part to save the environment and whatnot, I begin to wish that I would have driven my topless Jeep to campus instead.

Nevertheless, when you can ride the bus for practically free, it seems pointless to spend the gas money to drive five miles both ways. This, as it goes, is the very first lesson I’ve learned from riding the bus.

This is the third year I’ve been a bus-goer, and I truly believe the UTA pass is well worth the money. If not for the dirt-cheap transportation, then definitely for the valuable lessons I’ve learned when it comes to public transit.

A great bit of information I’ve discovered from personal experience is to do the research beforehand. Especially when you’re riding around campus, it is incredibly useful to know which stops lead to where.

Edvalson Street, for example, has two stops right across the street from another. Depending on which side of the street
determines whether you go north or south. Pick the wrong one and you could end up in Salt Lake City rather than Brigham City.

Another tip: always have a back-up plan. Buses are on time, even if you’re not. Heading from downtown Ogden, where I live, to campus, I discover that there are multiple buses that take similar routes. If I missed the 455, I hope on the 603. No sweat.

Most important of all, I’ve learned to open myself up to strangers on the bus. Sure, if I’m on the 603 by the liquor store, there tend to be a lot of weirdos, but I’ve also met some fascinating people on the bus.

I tend to keep to myself. I put my headphones in, pull out a book and divert eye-contact at all costs. I usually sit in the aisle seat as well, to ensure that nobody will sit next to me.

Over a year ago, I was doing just this, when I noticed the aisle filling up with people standing. Guilty about the empty seat next to me, I scooted over to open up space for the guy standing nearby.

This boy, grateful for the kindness of a stranger, chatted my ear off the rest of the ride to the Ogden Transit Center. This free-spirited techno-dancer with whom I had only exchanged a 20-minute conversation opened my eyes to the wonderful world of extroverts.

A friend of mine made a friend on the bus one day when she said she likes to play pool. The man she was talking to happened to create pool cues for living. He decided to bring her one as a gift.

Never knowing exactly when she would be riding the bus again, the man carried around the pool cue with him for weeks until he finally found my friend again to give her the gift.

Other Signpost staff have had similar experiences with public transit: missing buses, overlooking stops, keeping to themselves and possibly witnessing drug deals. With all the fun to be had on the buses, it’s worth giving it a try.

Riding the bus can be beneficial, not only because it can save money and the environment, but also help us practice timeliness and preparation skills. Best of all, public transportation can help to break down social barriers and allows us step outside our comfort zones.

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