Your New Year’s resolution was to cut down on your carbon footprint. The holidaze broke your bank or earned you a DWI, and now a car isn’t an option. You feel disconnected with the denizens of this city you call home and wish to immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and smells of public transportation. Whatever the reason, you now find yourself plopped down on a bus seat, traveling to your destination courtesy of ABQ Ride. As someone who spent over a decade using 505 transit as her primary means of get-around, these handy tips served me well.
Step 1: Learn your routes. The city provides bus patrons with a variety of different ways to access ABQ Ride routes and schedules. 311 dispatchers will gladly give you schedule info during the business week. Smartphone users can find ABQ Ride and UNM LoboMobile apps at iTunes or Google Play. Schedules are also available online at cabq.gov/transit and in pamphlet form on the bus. Make sure to pay attention to signs at the front of the bus for possible route changes or holiday times.
Step 2: Plan for “early.” You've checked the schedules and have your route down. To ensure you make all your stops, pick the schedule(s) that'll get you there early, especially if this is your first time on ABQRide or your first time going to your destination. You could get lost. The bus could be late. Be weather-conscious, and wear comfortable shoes.
Step 3: Embrace the sharing of space. We New Mexicans do so love our sprawl. But guess what? That’s not always an option on the bus. People will need to sit next to, or stand near, you during your trip. Unless you absolutely cannot help it (i.e., you are riding with luggage, children, groceries or all of the above), try not to be that jerk who takes up space just because you feel entitled to do so. It also helps to accept the fact that someone’s ass may be in your face.
As someone who spent over a decade using 505 transit as her primary means of get-around, these handy tips served me well.
Step 4: Be prepared for madness. There’s a whole passel of crazy on the bus. The buses serving Central Avenue (66, 766 and 777) in particular have a reputation. But it’s not just Central. In the years that I was making a 40-minute, cross-town commute, I saw a woman angrily bare her ass at a driver. I watched a man drizzle leaking cottage cheese all over the bus floor. I had a toddler scream directly and repeatedly in my face because he didn’t want to sit down. Introverted? Insulate yourself. My armor of choice is a book, conversation-
Step 5: Eavesdrop. I learned as a little girl that “nosy” was just a pejorative form of “curious.” And what better place to be curious than the bus? Even the most small talk-averse person can still relish in listening to the goings-on of fellow passengers. Sometimes you don’t have to try too hard, either; there are a lot of loud mouths, all too willing to tell their tales.
Step 6: Don’t be a snitch. So the kid next to you reeks of weed. So that guy with dreads and a cane is sipping what is clearly not water out of his water bottle. Are they a nuisance? Possibly. A threat? If not, then mind your own damn business. Having said that, though, if a fellow passenger or even a driver starts acting the fool with you or anyone else, make yourself known; get ‘em kicked off or file a complaint with 311.
Step 7: Enjoy saving money! According to the American Public Transportation Association, I could save over $1,400 this year if I took the bus. What’s not to like? Bus fare costs $1 one way ($0.35 for seniors and students ages 10 through high school) and $2 for a day pass. Wanna ride all month? It’s just $30. UNM and CNM students can ride the bus for free all school year long. All you need is your student ID and a copy of your class schedule. Need more info? Contact your school’s Student Services office.