Coming from the West coast, public transport is a concept with which I have little experience. We have a bus that runs about twice a day to the beach, trains that go to neighbouring counties and, honestly, that’s about it. So, having moved to Dublin, the bus, Luas and Dart took some getting used to. Many early mornings were spent squashed uncomfortably against other commuters on the Luas prior to my discovery of Dublin Bus, and calculating when to press the stop button for my destination was incredibly challenging at first. Six months on, I have become an expert in commuting. Now, I can blend in, chameleon-esque, with fellow Dubliners, and with this knowledge has come a series of strange and unforgettable life lessons.
For the first few weeks of college, I had been a devout Luas worshipper. It was reliable, fast and actually quite peaceful on my sacred green line, and there was always something very satisfying about getting back those extra 40 cent when I tapped off. Yet one day, when a tree had fallen on the tracks and the Luas lines were not in service, my whole world was turned upside-down. The bus was my only option, a concept that was strange and frightening to me.
I had no idea about hailing buses or timetables, and the thought of telling the bus driver my destination seemed frankly quite terrifying. Being a Dublin newbie, I had no idea where I was most of the time, never mind where I intended on going. Thankfully, I realised I could tap on, and was actually quite proud of myself for making it that far. Pulling up to Dame St, I confidently walked toward those wide-open doors of the 140, only to stop myself to ensure that I tapped off. The laugh of the bus driver and the confusion on the faces of my fellow passengers is not a moment in my life I imagine I will ever be able to forget.
It was reliable, fast and actually quite peaceful on my sacred green line, and there was always something very satisfying about getting back those extra 40 cent when I tapped off
Despite my rocky beginnings, I quickly became a Dublin Bus advocate. There was something quite serene about the bus, and it offered a constant opportunity to study the human condition. There is something about the bus: it’s almost as though it makes people feel as though they’re not being watched, which creates scope for for watching fascinating moments unfold during the daily commute.
I have overheard a breakup. I have listened in while cringe-worthy pick-up lines have been delivered. I have witnessed a middle-aged man chug not one but two Capri-Suns in the space of five minutes, and I have even seen a bus driver hitting a preoccupied cyclist, with the bus, during rush-hour traffic. It is a whirlwind of emotions in a 20-minute drive, and sometimes I purposefully ignore my headphones to ensure I miss none of the excitement.
It’s undeniable that Dublin Bus is not without its faults. The fares are actually quite obscene and the truth of the matter is that being in a closed space with so many other people is far from ideal. If you’re feeling even slightly queasy following a night out, public transport is never your best friend: you can bet someone will produce a pungent tuna sandwich and eat it so very slowly for the entirety of your travels. It is rare that I get through a commute without at least one strange smell wafting the length of the bus or Luas. On top of this, although there are exceptions, bus drivers are not always the most forgiving of people.
Despite my rocky beginnings, I quickly became a Dublin Bus advocate. There was something quite serene about the bus, and it offered a constant opportunity to study the human condition
Once or twice, I have had very uncomfortable journeys where someone has been shouted at for not having the right fare or for playing music too loud (although complaining about the latter is something I can definitely get behind). There’s also the issue of getting late public transport home, especially anywhere near Harcourt St. There, you will most definitely be accompanied on your journey by a group of very drunken students who feel the need to provide the entire bus with a collective musical performance. Probably good fun for those involved, it’s little short of painful for the rest of us.
Yet still, despite it all, the bus is my safe space. There’s nothing I love more than overhearing someone’s gossip-filled story to their best friend (despite the fact I know no-one involved), and I actually quite like it when my fellow passengers strike up conversation with me. It’s people-watching to the highest degree and I relish every tuna-smelling moment of it. I have had my spirit animal read on the bus (I’m a dog), been told I have lovely skin by an old woman and, one time, I even saw the architecture maestro, Dermot Bannon, through the bus window while waiting in traffic. Although my route seldom changes, the people around me always do, and for that I am eternally grateful to you, Dublin Bus. I encourage everyone to leave your earphones behind for the day, do some people-watching, and, please God, don’t try to tap off.