Photo by Jamie Howell

On a particularly crowded bus last week, the driver asked a student to get off the steps. “No,” the student answered. “You just left us at the last bus stop, so I’m not getting off.” It took us a few minutes to get going, since safety regulations dictate that the bus can’t move while students are on the stairs.

The buses are slow. They’re late. The system needs fixing.

This is just one example of the way we all slow down the bus system. I’m sure you’ve heard it, if you haven’t said it yourself: The buses are slow. They’re late. The system needs fixing. Yes, the buses are slow. But it’s our fault.

There are a few ways students contribute to this problem, and it’s not just the ones who ride the bus. I’ll start with the pedestrians. If you were here during the career fair, you may recall that Tech hired a traffic guide to direct traffic outside the CRC. Let me be clear: The guide was for pedestrian traffic. Pedestrians on this campus are either entitled, oblivious or both. Many don’t look when crossing the street. They string out, so another pedestrian won’t start crossing the street until the first one is almost across. This prevents vehicles from moving for several minutes. Pedestrians: please, organize yourselves. Consider waving ahead a bus full of students. Wait to cross until there are two or three of you, especially in front of the CRC. This simple behavior change will make traffic on campus move a lot faster.

Worse are the bus riders themselves. Admittedly, I am guilty of some of this behavior, especially before I realized it was a problem.

Worse are the bus riders themselves. Admittedly, I am guilty of some of this behavior, especially before I realized it was a problem. There are several things that slow the buses down: Refusing to sit down or move when the bus is full, refusing to get off a crowded bus blocking those trying to get off and running after a departing bus.

I’ve been on a lot of buses that are packed so full it’s difficult to stand—with empty seats. What is so difficult about sitting down? It makes room for everyone else.

Worse is when a bus stops and those standing near the door shuffle around while those trying to get off have to push past. What the shufflers are trying to accomplish, I have no idea. Make themselves thinner? Make everyone even more uncomfortable about the lack of personal space? It would be easier and faster if the students near the door just stepped off the bus for a moment. I promise, it won’t leave without you.

The worst, in my opinion, are students who force a bus to wait for them. The casual arrogance of those who wave at the bus and then saunter up to it, not even bothering to run, is infuriating. There are situations in which it’s all right to try to flag down a bus—providing you make the effort to run for it. If you’re alone at night and afraid for your safety, feel free to inconvenience a few people. If it’s broad daylight, however, and there’s another bus in six minutes, you can wait.

I’m not saying that the bus system itself doesn’t need work. It definitely does. A few simple behavior and attitude changes in the students, though, and we’ll see much more efficient buses.