For almost three years, I had the opportunity to use the Chicago Transit Authority and the Toronto Transit Commission. Subways and buses were there to connect you with most parts of those huge cities and yet the funny thing is that, according to Americans and Canadians, their massive transportation system sucks.
Though Chicago’s subway and bus system could be a bit dangerous and Toronto’s was usually jammed or delayed, people had something in common and it was respect for the user’s rights.
It was lovely to see how people waited patiently outside the buses or trains for all the other passengers to get off first. No one got upset when pregnant women, seniors or handicapped needed to sit on their assigned priority seats and we had to stand up and go on our feet for the rest of the ride.
The buses usually had a lane of their own and when a private car was on their way, it had to move fast for public transportation had priority on the roads. Oh, and I almost forget the best part: Public transportation works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!
I returned here a month ago and I was pleased to see that Masivo Integrado de Occidente a.k.a MIO was working. I loved it, believe me, but I was sort of disappointed when I couldn’t get off the bus at the right station because a herd of users did not let me do it. They did not wait for those who were inside the bus to get off first. I took the bus again two days later and I had to see an old lady standing up right next to me because a couple was too busy kissing on the priority seats to let her sit. I was pissed off. It was then when I felt a contraction on the muscles of my face and I knew it was coming: I was starting to put my “bitch, please” face again. I was lifting my right elbow almost to the top of my head and my mouth was twisted.
Later on, a man asked me “Reinita, do you know how to make it to the X station?” I did not so we got off the bus to look for a “facilitador” but he was nowhere to be seen and the station had no maps. I almost cried. I jumped on the bus and I had to see the driver struggling against taxi drivers, other bus drivers and private car drivers to make his way and keep his lane. On top of that, I heard a group of youngsters planning to “colarse” through the back door because they did not feel like paying for the ride.
So I stood up and before getting off at my stop, I gave them an awful gaze; a gaze I forgot how to give to my fellow public transportation users for the past three years. My heart was broken to see that we haven’t learnt to respect other people’s space but unfortunately all I could do was to look at them and put my “bitches, please” face again.