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Shuttles may be convenient, but they will never be enjoyable.

Hell on Wheels: A Condemnation of All Campus Buses Everywhere Ever

Broke and Broken

Shuttles may be convenient, but they will never be enjoyable.

By Michelle Criqui, James Madison University


Whether you go to school in the mountains, the city or by the beach, odds are inter-campus shuttles are a major part of your daily routine.

While they are typically a more convenient way to get from one side of campus to another (without having to deal with the hellscape that is on-campus parking), every student has had their fair share of awkward, annoying and overall sucky experiences gained while braving the campus bus system.

Awkward Eye Contact

On a crowded long-run bus, there’s almost no way around it.

You’re zoned out with your headphones in, minding your own business, daydreaming about meeting George Lopez on the streets of New York, when all of a sudden you come to the horrific realization that you’ve been staring someone dead in the face for the last five minutes.

Hell on Wheels: A Condemnation of All Campus Buses Everywhere EverNow, depending on your luck, at this point you typically face two very different scenarios:

Scenario #1: The person across from you also has their headphones in, and they either have their eyes glued to their phone, or are just as embarrassed as you are for unknowingly participating in a zonked-out staring contest for the past few minutes. (Pray that you too shall be this lucky.)

Scenario #2: As soon as you blink your eyes out of their hazy, crossed position, you’re met with the uncomfortable, bewildered gaze of a stranger who will probably be pulling the “Stop Requested” cord as soon as possible.

Bonus awkward points (BAP) if you kinda-sorta know this person, but now are forced to resign yourself to never speaking to them for as long as you live.

Wait, Where am I?

Now, before you stop reading and say to yourself, “Psh, what am I, a freshman?”—sorry, freshies—take a moment to really ask yourself when the last time was that you accidentally got on the Shopper bus instead of the Inter-Campus Shuttle, or got so caught up in your roommate’s Snap story from the Taylor Swift concert that you forgot to get off at your stop.

It happens to the best of us. The secret is being able to play your missed debarkation off like you know exactly what you’re doing and where you’re going (just like in life, am I right?), even if that means discreetly googling your school’s bus finder website as you try to reroute yourself to the other side of campus.

The Drunk Bus

As soon as the clock strikes 10:00 on weekend nights, campus night buses across the nation undergo an almost magical transformation, into a creature that is as hilarious and intriguing as it is utterly obnoxious: the Drunk Bus.

Known for spontaneous group outbursts of the “Barney and Friends” theme song and people dressed with an incredible disregard for hypothermia, the Drunk Bus is the main mode of transportation for broke dorm-dwellers seeking an escape from the stress of the week.

While it can be a fun experience, especially with good friends and the right atmosphere, the Drunk Bus is definitely not one you should take sober.

Stop Requested

On most buses, there is a handy little pull-cord that allows riders to indicate to the driver that this is their stop, via an obnoxious automated voice shouting something along the lines of: “STAHP REQUESTED!”

For most riders, it’s as simple as that.

But for whatever reason, there’s always that one person who is under the impression that unless they pull the cord ten times in a row, the driver won’t understand that yes, there is a STAHP REQUESTED.

It doesn’t matter that the next stop is clearly a part of this route, or that another person just pulled the cord a second ago. This guy (or girl) needs to make it known to the entire bus that if they don’t get off right now and get their Starbucks before class, there will be hell to pay.

Wacky Drivers

As you work your way through your college career, you’re bound to encounter a wide variety of bus drivers.

First you’ve got your young drivers, the ones who probably go to your school and tend to get a little power-hungry with the gas pedal.

Then you’ve got your locals, who, despite their initial friendliness, are typically seen with a scowl on their faces as they tote around the ungrateful kids who tear up their town for nine months a year.

Finally, you’ve got your whack-a-doodles, who can either be extremely entertaining or just straight-up terrifying. They strike up random conversations with you about their cats, blast Disney music over the stereo and sing along (true story) and yell at squirrels as they dash across the road.

While these kinds of drivers make for great Snap stories and tales to tell your roommate later, you’ll probably find yourself gripping your seat with white knuckles as you await the next possible stop.

Too Many People

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being packed into an overcrowded bus that feels more like a sweaty can of sardines, standing with some guy’s butt right in front of you and another girl’s backpack pressed up behind you.

You grip the handle as tight as you can, but somehow you still manage to stumble backward and almost fall straight into the laps of the people sitting beside you as the bus lurches onto the road.

You plant your feet as firmly as you can and try in vain to balance, but damn it, you never learned to surf and this might as well be the same thing.

As the bus reaches its first stop and people start to force their way toward the doors, backpacks swing past and whack you one-by-one in the face. Before you can say anything, more people crowd on, with the driver yelling for everyone to squish in to fit the people getting on. Why can’t they just wait for the next bus?! you wonder as the doors finally, graciously close.

At last, your stop arrives. Eager to escape this metal tin of B.O. and misery, you look toward the doors in anticipation. But to your horror, waiting at your stop is a giant crowd with that glazed look in their eyes, meaning they’re probably willing to kill a man to get on this bus.

Taking a deep breath, you forge your way forward as the bus slows to a stop. But you’re caught behind two girls engrossed in their conversation about the Starbucks line and people from the outside are already forcing their way on board.

With a sigh, you realize you’ll probably have to ride this metal torture chamber into the next century…or at least until the end of the line.

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