Monday, November 15, 2010

My Horror of Public Transport

A long long long time ago, right before I turned 18 for the first time, I enrolled at Curtin University to study Journalism and English. Much to my shock, success in journalism depended on an interest in current affairs. Can you believe they actually expected us to read the paper? EVERY DAY? I mean, I was going to be a rock journalist, writing for NME. I couldn't have cared less about the history of newspaper ownership in WA. There went my major. That left English, which turned out not to be English at all, but a critical theory course, masquerading as English. We analysed bus stops and advertisements for weight loss products in TV magazines. Call me old-fashioned but I thought we would be reading BOOKS.

The other problem with Curtin was that it was not very close to my house and I didn't have a car. I had to catch not one, but THREE buses to get there, and another three to get back home. Sometimes, if I was travelling outside of peak hour, and the connections were less frequent, it could take me two and a half hours to get there. I utilised my time on the bus reading neo-Marxist post-post colonialist interpretations of god knows what.  Fun? Not really.

Before Curtin University became Curtin University someone had the bright idea that it should be called Curtin University of New Technology. Excuse my French but I couldn't help thinking CUNT was a fairly appropriate acronym for the place I had signed up to spend the next 3 years of my life, during which the hours I was clocking on public transport would be at least twice as many as the hours I would spend in class. What to do? Dropping out seemed like a pretty good option.

But my horror of public transport never left me. As an adult I would catch the train but the bus was strictly off limits. It wasn't even a consideration, ever. Last year I began working less than 3 kilometres from home. Occasionally I walked but usually I drove. I gave a lecture on sustainability in which I suggested to my students that, wherever possible, they consider catching the bus instead of driving. Yes! Public transport is great for the environment! Everyone should use it. Except me. 

Then one day our car was at the fix-it shop. My husband suggested I catch a bus to work. In the dim recesses of my mind I had noticed a bus stop, only a few minutes walk from our house, and a little investigation revealed that buses went from there, right past my workplace, every five minutes or so. I took a breath. How bad could it be? I caught the bus. I LIKED it. I listened to my iPod as I walked to the bus stop, and while I sat on the bus (for approximately 3 minutes) and while I walked from the bus stop to the staff room. I could hear 4 songs in each direction! And I was a better global citizen. Huzzah! All hail public transport. I'm so sorry I forgot how to catch the bus.


  1. You know you say you can write but you really can draw too. Ps. Sorry I forgot to call. I am getting there. xx

  2. Who would have thought that a bus could be fun - actually have you ever seen that 60s BBC serial 'on the buses' - bawdy hijinks - well I'll leave the rest to you. Thank god for ipods, modern kids making music and the people that share it. This morning I stood on a train platform listening to arcade fire and felt romantially displaced - almost sublime.

    By the way excellent use of the timetable - an undervalued creative print resource - PatO