Waiting for the Bus or Avoiding it?

Sikivu Hutchinson reveals, through Los Angeles’s history of urban transportation, the racial and gender inequalities of the American urban and suburban society in the last century, which persist to this day. The public transportation system is a lifeline for carless workers, an idea which drivers do not realize or sympathize with.

“[E]astside communities of color languished from a lack of capital investment. Indeed, the succession of the railway system by the SCRTD was a culmination of public policy that effectively subsidized suburban and exurban growth, job export, and commercial development via the segregation of communities like South Central… Thus the fifty-year downsizing of urban transit has allowed the bus to function as a mere adjunct to the private car, rather than a fully viable option to private transportation.” (Hutchinson, 114).

As a former driver in Los Angeles, I felt a sense of guilt reading “Waiting for the Bus” as I too was oblivious to (or maybe chose not to acknowledge) the social inequalities made apparent literally outside my windshield. LA’s infamous traffic turns driving into a videogame; the goal is to avoid becoming the car immediately behind the bus. There is no acknowledgement of the commuters who ride the bus. There is no wonder of why they ride the bus. There may even be a moment of frustration, questioning the existence of the bus because its slow crawl is painful to watch let alone imagine experiencing it. When the game is over and we escape the congestion, there is a sense of relief, and we move on with our lives, not having wondered why there are people waiting for the bus, while we avoid it.

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