Local entrepreneur and Capital Metro rider Vicki Flaugher wrote an interesting article about the social stigma that sometimes accompanies riding mass transit. She had been in a car accident that totaled her vehicle, and had decided to ride Capital Metro so she could save up for a Prius. Here’s an excerpt, behind the cut.
Little did I know, though, how much other people seemed to have negative ideas about riding the bus. My friends, even my new-age, modern-minded, vegetarian, recycling friends, all looked at me with pity in their eyes when I told them I was riding the bus.
For the first few weeks, they would offer me rides or tell me about some great deal of a car one of their neighbors had for sale, but after awhile that stopped. I felt a real disconnect from the socially conscious, energy efficient nirvana they talked about pursuing and how they acted about the actuality of it when a friend of theirs was living it.
Complete strangers were happy to fill the pity gap, though, as they saw me waiting at a bus stop. They would stop and offer me a ride because they just felt bad that a “nice woman” like me would be waiting for the bus. What’s that about? Do normal, cleanly dressed, law abiding, working people not ride the bus? The prejudice was obvious.
Flaugher goes on to challenge readers to examine their own prejudices when it comes to public transportation, just as she had to face her own. Some of the questions she raises: “Are you too sexy for the bus?” “In your mind, do I have to own a car to fit in?” “Do you think poorly of the people riding the bus?” “Are people who afford and use cars somehow held in higher esteem?”
The full article, including an audio version, can be found here.