School buses, metros, high speed rails…our lives are filled with transportation, often public, even if it never takes center stage. Primarily identifying as a driver for most of my life, public transportation only occasionally slipped into my consciousness until recently, yet memories of those trains and buses remain vivid years later.
My First Time: Miami Metrorail
As a kid, my parents took me to work with them in downtown Miami on the Metrorail and Metromover. The whole ordeal seemed like a theme park ride to me: high above the city with a great view of building and cars flying past. And the best part: no seatbelts! I could jump around and change seats all I wanted! That is–until my parents yelled at me to quit fooling around. In my quieter moments, I contemplated why the windows were so dirty, attempted to translate the graffiti so poorly scratched into the plastic, and studied the design of the metal tokens that took the place of tickets as if they were treasure.
Foreign Adventures: Japan, Hong Kong, Paris, and Costa Rica
One of my favorite ways to get a view into lives of people in a different country is by public transportation.
In Japan, the countryside whizzed past as the high speed rail raced from Kyoto to Tokyo. The flat fields morphed into small towns patched with rice paddies in lieu of vacant lots between buildings.
In Hong Kong, children in uniform raced from school to the bus at the edge of the jungle park while monkeys followed in hot pursuit, watching for dropped food.
Parisians dazzled me with what almost looked like a fashion show on the bus. I admired their black coats, black dresses, and black heels as I tried to deflect attention from my old hoodie and sneakers.
Deep in the countryside of Costa Rica, our bus maneuvered the dirt road to avoid a farm dog lazily wandering about the path. We passed a couple of horses hitched to a tree and stopped to let a line of people onboard. As people ascended the stairs and found a seat, the dog followed at the back of the line, attempting to board! The driver had to push the dog back out the door.
All of these experiences (and more) formed the basis of what would eventually become Attention Passengers: Adventures on Public Transportation.