Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
Buses

Rubbing Elbows on a Crowded Bus in Alaska

fairbanks.jpg
It may look desolate, but business is picking up at the Fairbanks bus depot.

All around the country, local transit systems are seeing spikes in ridership caused by rising fuel prices, and oftentimes straining under the increased demand. As part of our participation in Transportation for America's Build for America campaign, we've been looking around the country for bloggers who are covering these issues and who can lend their voices to the call for more funding for public transit around the country. That's how we found The Fairbanks Pedestrian.

The blog's creator, Paul Adasiak, recently wrote an interesting post on increased bus use in his Alaskan city. He's pleased that more people are riding because it means fewer cars on the road, sure. But when he saw a well-dressed man with a briefcase board the bus, he saw the potential for an even more profound effect:

I’m happy because the bus isstarting to be more of a social leveler, bringing together a widervariety of ages, races, educations, and incomes.  And that’s important.

How many people of another social class, or race, or educationallevel are you likely to meet while at work?  Probably few.  How many inyour home, barring your own parents or children?  Very few.  And howmany while driving alone in your car?  Absolutely none!  For much ofour days, most of have no chance to rub elbows with people who seemunlike us, because we lack space in which this can happen.  Ourstratification and our isolation dim our understanding and dull oursympathies.

I recall, growing up in Anchorage, some ordinance involving expandedbus service came up before the municipal assembly (I think), and MayorTom Fink, speaking against it, said, “Everybody I know drives a car.” Well, wonderful.  That really spoke more to his own social class andhis own isolation from others, than it did to the actual state ofaffairs.

If the privileged leaders of our community — if our City Council andBorough Assembly members, our captains of industry, our professors, themembers of our Chamber of Commerce — got to ride the bus every day, andto rub elbows with their fellow citizens of all classes, no suchignorant statement could escape their lips without consequence.  And Iexpect it would be much harder for us all to hold on to our prejudices.

Photo: drniii/Flickr

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

Wednesday’s Headlines

How should we react to public indifference about the danger cars pose to society? Perhaps a sitcom has something to teach us.

July 24, 2024

Opinion: Is Kamala Harris ‘The Climate President We’ve Been Waiting For’?

Kamala Harris fought hard for a better transportation plan in the San Diego region despite big political risks. If elected president, will she do the same for the country?

July 24, 2024

America is Setting Micromobility Records — But That Boom Could Go Bust Without Public Funding

Shared bike and scooter trips soared 20 percent in a single year. So why are so many U.S. systems shutting down — and what will it take to keep the revolution rolling?

July 24, 2024

Tuesday’s Headlines Are Running Hard

More political news: Today's top stories delve into Kamala Harris' record on climate change and Republicans' plans for the Trump administration if he returns to power.

July 23, 2024

Disabled NYer’s are Victims of Gov. Hochul’s Congestion Pricing Pause

So many New Yorkers can’t use the closest subway station to their homes because they don't have an elevator. And Gov. Hochul just halted funding for 23 new lifts.

July 23, 2024
See all posts