A TriMet Commuter’s 10 Tips…

The Wheels on the Bus: A TriMet Commuter’s 10 Tips for Riding Happy. Riding TriMet is a dream. Sometimes it’s sublime and peaceful. Sometimes it’s a slow and steady nightmare. But it always ends the same ? hopping off while yelling “thank you.” For newbies and out-of-towners, here are some basic tips for a mostly painless TriMet experience:

Quick quiz: Which is the correct TriMet slogan?
a) TriMet: Breathe through your mouth.
b) TriMet: We are bus. You are car. You lose.
c) TriMet: Move toward the back, please.
d) TriMet: See where it takes you.

It’s kind of an obvious choice, but if you’re a TriMet commuter, you’ll eventually come to understand a, b and c.

1. Know where you’re going ahead of time. In other words, plan your trip. Go to and see for yourself. There’s a nice little window where you can enter your current location and desired destination. If you decide you’ll just see where the bus takes you, like the slogan suggests, you’ll come up against regular bussers attempting to strangle you as you flag down a driver to ask, “Is this the Number Four?”

Does it look like the Number Four? Do you see the number four anywhere on the side or front of the bus? If the answer is no, then the bus you just flagged down is not the Number Four and everyone hates you.

2. Have your pass or money ready when you get on. Oh man, I can’t stress this enough. If you’ve ever been behind someone who ambles aboard and then rifles through his backpack for correct change while you’re left standing in the rain, you’ll understand the importance of this tip. Please, for the love of my hair not turning frizzy in a downpour, if you’re not ready to get on the bus, let others go first.

I am really, truly interested in the state of your mom’s foot warts. I really am. But it’s the weirdest thing; other people tend to dislike it when you talk rather loudly either on the phone or to the person sitting right next to you. She’s had them frozen off three times? Wow. She can’t walk for two weeks? No way. I’m so very
intrigued by the absolute grossness of it all. But the guy next to me (what a prude) just doesn’t seem to be all that interested. We’ll talk later.

4. The MAX isn’t free. For real. It costs the same as the bus. Go ahead and test your luck on this one. Just remember that you are a cheater and a liar and you know what you did.

5. Acting exasperated, rolling your eyes and mad-dogging the bus driver will not make the bus go any faster. A heavy sigh will not magically make traffic disappear. A fidgety look around at your fellow passengers will not enable the bus to fly. Swearing under your breath will actually make you more late; it’s science.

Report any unusual behavior immediately. Uh, you’re on the bus. Unusual is TriMet’s middle name. TriMet Unusual McGivesaride.

7. No eye contact! This one is extremely vital for anyone who plans on riding more than a couple times a week. Once you connect even the fleetingest gaze with that lady sitting across from you, you’re
doomed. “Whatchya readin’? Whereya goin’? Crazy weather we’re havin,’” and so on until the nice little lady in the floral-print pantsuit starts to look more and more like Satan. Quick tips for avoiding unwanted conversation: Wear sunglasses, even on cloudy days, or wear headphones, even if the other end of the cord isn’t attached to anything.

8. Germaphobes beware: The bus isn’t always the most sanitary place. It’s not a port-a-potty by any means, but it’s definitely not NASA’s clean room either. Hand sanitizer is your friend.

9. Your purse/backpack/grocery bag is not a person and therefore is not entitled to sit next to you. Ways to tell if you’re sitting next to a person or inanimate object: Does it have legs and arms, a head or feet? (Person.) Is there a Jansport label sewn on it? (Not a person.) Is it talking? (Person.) Are you sure? (See No. 10.)

10. There will always be a weirdo on the bus. Always. Look around. If you don’t see a weirdo, then tag. You’re it.

Ride happy!

by Kennedy Smith

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