Saturday, January 20, 2007

bus rules

riding on a bus in romania is an experience. so, i'll prepare you. (for any visitors i might be having, you know. or if somebody just happens to be in romania and wants to ride a bus).

3 sets of doors (all on the same side, of course!)
24 seats (really. i counted)
wide aisles
lots of standing room in the middle
poles run along above aisles for handholds
often full (sometimes very full..)

you must have a ticket that you put into a machine so it is marked when you get on the bus. you can also buy a pass for a certain period of time, like 2 weeks or a month. you can also buy booklets of 10 tickets. or you can buy a ticket from the driver when you get on the bus. if you get on the bus at the middle door and the bus is so full you cannot get to the driver, you send up the necessary money. it gets passed through many hands and eventually your ticket comes back, and usually someone has put it into the machine so it is already marked. no other place have i seen someone hand over money to an unknown person .. but i haven't seen any bad results.

a month or so ago, a few buses started to have televisions at the front. these play just commercials for various businesses in the city. and there are maybe 7 ads? so if you're on the bus for more than 10 minutes, you see and hear them multiple times. the most interesting for me is one for a football (soccer) team, and the music is the same as a worship song i know (here are the lyrics if anybody is interested). when i hear it, i sing along silently with the real words that praise God. too bad they're singin' the wrong ones!

if an older woman gets on the bus, she deserves a seat. if one is not free, usually someone will stand up to give her one. this happens with older men, but mostly if they look frail or demand it. young children also often get seats given up for them. sometimes a mother with a young child will be given a seat and will take it and put the kid on her lap. i suspect this mostly depends on how tired the mother is.

many times during the day (and not always the same ones), the bus is full. this means all the seats are taken, and people are standing so the aisles are full, and sometimes when the bus stops at a station, it's a challenge for people there to push their way onto the bus. in this crowd of people, it's important to keep your bag in front of you where you can see it and possibly feel it. pickpockets might it too tempted otherwise.

in terms of positioning yourself, a seat is a good option, although one might be obliged to give it up for someone who needs it more leaving you in an awkward position. i personally prefer to enter in the middle of the bus and go to the opposite side, in the standing space. there are two corners and some nice windows or railings to lean against. this way at least one part of me is safe from being touched. and touching will happen on a full bus. not sexual touching, but what, i suppose, is necessary. let's just say that for the twenty-five minutes it takes to ride from the office to home, personal space doesn't exist.

when you need to get out of the bus, it's best to start moving toward an exit a few moments before the bus stops at your station. on a full bus, this moving toward the door often requires almost switching places with people who will not be exiting the bus just yet. no speaking is necessary, although it is somewhat polite. sometimes this also requires gently (or not so gently) pushing one's way out onto the street. if you happen to be near the door and not exiting, beware -- people might be pushing to get around from a couple directions. in some cases, it's best to get out and then quickly get back in once the outflowing traffic has ceased. if you happen to be claustrophobic, there are a few options .. waiting an hour until less people are traveling, walking (not a brilliant idea if you're alone and it's dark), or taking a taxi (which isn't too expensive). there's also always the option to just stay home ....

1 comment:

Larq said...

Just wanted to say I love your detailed and humorous picture of the Romanian public bus experience.