my office will not stop freaking out that I take the bus to work

A reader writes:

I’m writing because I have an issue that I haven’t seen addressed on your site before, and it’s giving me a lot of trouble. Recently, I started a new job (a promotion at my current company). During the interview, they asked about driving for an optional part of the job, and I was forced to mention I didn’t have a license. Ultimately, it didn’t turn out to be a problem, but it alerted them to the fact that I don’t drive. Because of this, and incidental talk about my commute, my new office is now aware that I take the bus to and from work.

This seems to really bother them. They’re constantly commenting on the type of people who ride the bus (which is really insulting to me), the area we work in, and how they can’t believe it, and continually offering me rides. My boss constantly worries about whether or not x or y start times or commutes will be “too long” or “too early” because I take the bus. She tries to reschedule things, even when I tell her it won’t be a problem and not to worry about it. When a coworker overheard me refusing a ride by telling them that the bus was perfectly safe and I had had no problems, she interjected and asked if I had had much experience with the bus in a disbelieving tone. She’s tried to come up with ways I can “make people not sit with me” on the bus.

Every time we close up, someone brings it up and I have to refuse a ride home and then listen to 3 people worry and reiterate the offers. I just want to be treated like everyone else. I can make sure I can get to work on time, and I can get myself home. I’ve been taking the bus to work for 2 years now, and I’ve been late once. I’ve never had any problems with the bus, ever. It’s not dangerous, it’s not particularly hard for me, and it’s not unreliable.

However, they seem to be obsessed with telling me how dangerous or unreliable or inconvenient it is. They just will not let it drop. I’ve tried telling them that it’s not an issue. I’ve tried politely refusing the rides. I’ve tried to avoid the subject. Nothing works. It keeps getting brought up, and people keep making it an issue when it isn’t. It would be one thing if riding the bus had ever interfered in my work in any way, but it hasn’t. Our company even promotes bus riding by offering a 50% subsidy and brags about its integration with the community and reducing pollution.

Part of this is, I’m sure, that everyone who lives in this area and takes the bus is a minority. Without fail, all of the staff who obsess about me taking the bus are white. Part of it is that they’re higher income, and this is a low income (although not particularly rough) area. I’m also white, and very petite and young looking, so I think there is some mother instinct going on. I’d just like to get through a closing shift without listening to my coworkers needlessly concern themselves with my transportation.

How can I get them to stop?

At a minimum, that’s both weird and annoying, and it might be racist too, so I can see why you’re frustrated.

It sounds like you’ve tried nearly everything anyone could recommend to get them to stop — but not everything. You’ve told them it’s not an issue for you, you’ve politely refused the rides, and you’ve tried avoiding the subject. But what I don’t see on your list of things you’ve tried is telling them directly to stop. And it’s time for that, if indeed you want this to stop.

So the next time it comes up, clearly tell them to cut it out. You don’t have to be rude about it, but you should be direct. Say something like this: “I appreciate your concern, but actually I would prefer it if we could stop commenting on my taking the bus. You probably don’t realize this, but I hear opinions about my riding the bus from nearly everyone in the office, multiple times a week. I would really appreciate if it we could stop discussing it.”

Say that once to each person who brings it up. Then, if any of them bring it up after that, simply say, “I’d rather not continue to discuss my taking the bus. Thanks for understanding.”

(Frankly, if you’re pretty confident that’s there’s a race element here, you could also say, “Does your concern have anything to do with the fact that I’m white and most people on the bus aren’t?” I’m betting you’re going to get a lot fewer comments after that.)

One exception to this: You shouldn’t lecture people when they’re offering rides. They’re offering you a favor, and you should answer that with a simple “no, thank you.” If they continue to persist, you can say it more forcefully. But I wouldn’t lump the ride offers in with all the above (even if it has the same motivation), because you’ll look unfriendly and ungracious to people who genuinely may be just trying to save you from some inconvenience. You can, however, smile and say nicely, “I’m really fine. But thank you.”

Also … have a separate conversation with your boss, since she’s fretting about various start times and rescheduling things for you. Say something like this to her: “Jane, I really appreciate how considerate you are about whether my commute will interfere with start times for things. But I wonder if you’d be willing to trust that I’ll be here when I need to and to proactively tell you if I ever foresee an issue. I know you don’t intend it this way, but all the concern over me taking the bus is making me feel different from the rest of the staff, and I’d be grateful if you’d be willing to put my commute out of your mind and just rely on me to be here when you need me!”

If she responds to that by expressing concern about the bus again, then directly ask her to stop, using the language above for your coworkers (“You probably don’t realize this, but I hear opinions about my riding the bus from nearly everyone in the office, multiple times a week. I would really appreciate if it we could stop discussing it”).

At that point, you’ll have done everything you reasonably can. If the comments continue anyway, then your office will have proved itself (a) impervious to all reasonable efforts to change it, and (b) remarkably hung up on something they should let go. And at that point the solution is going to have to be about you tuning it out, rather than convincing them to behave differently.

{ 283 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    Yay busses! I’ve gotten some similar reactions.
    Lines I’ve used:
    “I really enjoy riding the bus it gives me time to read and wind down at the end of the day/get into a work related head space in the morning.”
    “The bus is the best, cheapest, and most efficient way for me to get to work, I’ve done the math, it isn’t that exciting and not really worth talking about.”

    There may also be an idea from your boss that you will be looking for a job with a shorter commute, etc so it might be worth thinking about if that is part of the concern and addressing that.

    1. Kelly L.*

      I have too! Either people get afraid for me, or they pity me. But it really is true about the reading :D

      1. the gold digger*

        I looooove the bus. Seventy minutes of reading time that I wouldn’t otherwise have in my day. Plus the $67 monthly pass is cheaper than the $100 parking downtown. (And much cheaper than buying another car, which we would need to do.)

        I have had people ask me if it’s safe as well. Ironically, it’s my most liberal friends who ask that! (OK. It was one guy. But he is super-lib.)

    2. Josh S*

      And how many people who comment on here live in a major city and use buses/light rail/commuter rail (or other forms of public transportation) to go all over the city.

      Heck, it’s one of the reasons I *moved* to the urban core from the suburbs–so much cheaper and easier to not deal with a car!

    3. k*

      Great points. I’ve never had a driver’s license and don’t need one where I live now, but managed fine in other cities (one of them was tough, since it’s exceptionally car-oriented, but it was doable, not to mention that in those days I really did have to choose between paying rent and feeding myself and spending money on car, gas, insurance, maintenance, etc.)

      If peoples’ reasons for freaking out over public transit weren’t so discriminatory (and they almost always, always are: poor people and minorities, even though they never come out and say it, just as in the OP’s case), their ignorance about what it’s like to use the bus would be funny.

      1. Bea W*

        The OPs letter reminds me of why I hate visiting my dad as well as going back to the town where I grew up. I live in the city how, and not just that but a part of the city that was always disparaged for its African American population. Many people here do take public transit to work, so it’s not odd, but what I do here are the questions and remarks about where I live.

        Likewise, when I had friends in a white but poor section of the last city I lived in, my mother was always fretting about “safety” on the bus. especially after dark.

        Ironically, it was my own family who introduced me to public transit. My dad hates driving into the city, and like many people parked somewhere and took the subway to work. My mother grew up in the city. She and my grandmother did not learn how to drive until they moved out to the burbs after my mother married. I was on public transit a lot as a kid anytime we went to the city. We’d drive and park at the end of the line. It’s only a problem if it happens to be in the “wrong” part of town. :/ That made it evident to me that it was more discriminatory than anything.

        Thankfully, everyone else around me has their head on right. I only have to put up with that anymore maybe once or twice a year.

        1. Jamie*

          Maybe some of that is just parents being parents and worried about you – no matter where you live?

          When I was newly married the first time, back when I was a child bride, we lived in Novato – a lovely suburb of San Francisco and if there was a bad neighborhood I didn’t know where it was. My dad called from home freaked out that I ran to the store (less than a mile away) for milk after dark. It was all of about 8:00 pm.

          It was a great neighborhood, but he was a dad so he was worried about kidnapping, or that I would fall down and get trapped in a well, or brainwashed into joining a cult. Who knows what dangers he thought lurked in the dairy section of the local grocery store.

          Parents worry and it’s not always because there is something to worry about. It annoyed me to no end while it was happening, but I’ll tell you …I miss that now. There isn’t one person on the planet who worries about me like that. We do have one guy here who scolds me when I go out in winter without a coat because I’ll catch my death of cold and sometimes my boss reminds me to eat…always makes me smile because it reminds me of when my dad worried about like it was his job.

          1. Job seeker*

            Jamie, I understand. We take it so for granted when we are worried about and cared for. Now, it is our turn with our kids. You never know what you had until you don’t have it anymore.

          2. Chinook*

            Jamie, I understand that some of the worrying will come from being a parent and is unavoidable. But, just remember that, if you worry vocally too much, your children may never tell you about the time they were in a foreign country and when she asked the tour guide (whom she was holding on to while on the back of his moped in the middle of nowhere) where he learned English, he responded “in jail.” and the f/u answer to why he was in jail (cuz maybe it was for something non-violent, please, please, please?), he says it was for manslaughter due to a driving accident (at which point said traveller realizes she has to get back on the moped with convicted bad driver because she has no clue where the heck she was). Yet, I still got home safe and the only people I will never tell that story to are my overly worried parents and DH.

            1. Jess*

              Or about the time they were in a foreign country where it was common to hitch rides, and once, with her female roommate, was across the country from where she was staying, and deciding that she didn’t feel well enough to walk down to the main road from the fort to hitch a ride to the center of town, instead walked around the parking lot asking for rides. And eventually accepted a ride from an electrician, in the back of his van, and seriously considered hitching a ride back across the country with him (but the timing didn’t work out).

  2. Joey*

    I know you were trying to be PC, but “might be racist?”

    I’d be shocked if it weren’t. I’d also be interested to hear what “type” of people they’re referring to.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I wasn’t trying to be particularly PC. It certainly sounds like it’s a strong possibility that some or all of this is rooted in racism, but I don’t feel absolutely sure of that since I’ve known people who were like this about the bus even when the demographics were different.

      1. Jessa*

        This may be something you can take up with the company in general, when you talk to your boss, you might want to bring up the fact that the company ITSELF is encouraging people to take the bus, and the constant “are you sure, do you need a ride, let me change this schedule for you,” is kind of anti-that.

    2. Anonymous*

      It could alternatively be classist? (Only poor people ride the bus! has been said to me more than once.) Though often the two are tied up together. And yeah I’d be willing to bet my bus pass there is a racial issue going on here.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Sometimes even ableist! “Only (offensive word for people with developmental disabilities) and (offensive word for people with mental illnesses) ride the bus!” Or a perfect storm of all three.

        1. Anonymous*

          I have been in situations where the bus system was not a racial minority majority ridership and people still had that reaction (because “Only poor people ride the bus!”) but I’d strongly agree that in most cases classism and racism (and ablism) are so deeply “linked”.

      2. ThursdaysGeek*

        In our area, where the bus system isn’t particularly useful*, a lot of the people who ride are those who are unable to get a license because of legal issues (DUI), mental issues, age issues (students), or language issues (not yet English speaking). So yes, very classist.

        I enjoyed riding the bus, having time to read on the way to and from work, and wish it were more convenient, because it is certainly cheaper than owning a car and paying for gas and insurance.

        *6am to 6pm; not on Sunday; runs every 1/2 hour (except where it is less); no routes directly between transfer stations. Oh, and I have to drive 3 miles to the closest stop. :(

        1. Been there/done that*

          sounds like the city I just relocated from. I am legally blind so I can’t drive. Its fu nny to me what peoples definition of a bad transit system is because the one where I live now is 10x better than the one where I was but citizens here consider it ineffective but to me its. awesome:)

          1. Annoying bus*

            Yeah where I live now it’s awful busses come every 2 hours bt 6am n 6pm no busses on Sunday I missed church for a Month when I could t get a ride the bus doesn’t even go to my current job stops 5 miles away…I could go on lol

      3. the gold digger*

        Yes! I have heard that from more than one person – “only poor people take the bus.”

        Even if that’s the case, why would people who are strong proponents of public transportation in theory have a problem with someone they know actually taking the bus? Isn’t it better for everyone to have fewer cars on the road?

      4. Jim*

        One of the prime minister of the UK once said any man who rides the bus at the age of 26 can consider himself a failure that was in the 1980’s

        1. EE*

          The 1980s was a different time. Remember the sniff at Heseltine being the type of man who has to buy his own furniture?

        2. UK HR Bod*

          Yep. That was Maggie though! She wasn’t keen on public transport for some odd reason, but then all of our politicians seem to go a bit mad when it comes to transport. I don’t think that buses in the UK have the same stigma it seems they have in part of the US – they are the main mode of transport in most areas, the only method in some rural areas (albeit once a Sunday on months with an X in).

      5. Manhattan Girl*

        This post was fascinating to read as a New Yorker. Everyone of every social class uses our public transportation—from Wall Street execs to the homeless. Neither I nor most every professional I know in this city would ever think of owning a car—and most don’t even have a current drivers license. And like another commenter here notes, while being do great for the environment, it encourages other enriching activities like reading. Every morning on my subway commute, I see 90% of riders engrossed in a novel.

        How very sad to see that this is actually stigmatized by some people in other places—it sounds ignorant and undeniably classist, if not also racist for them to make such comments. It also belittles the OP who clearly is an adult and a professional capable of making sound personal decisions about how she would prefer to travel to/from work.

        For those co-wokers who merely wish to show kindness by offering a ride, thank them sincerely for their thoughtful gesture, but for the rest, just… UGH.

        1. Jennifer*

          In non-New York places, the car is not only the default, it is the required standard and you are really limited in your options of life (living arrangements, how to get food, what jobs you can get) at times, depending on how the public transport is, or even if it exists at all. In NYC (from what I’ve heard) you can get everywhere you need to go without a car–in most of the rest of the world you cannot get ANYWHERE without one. So you get a lot of shocked, SHOCKED! reactions to not having a car.

          I live in a bike-friendly town where college freshman aren’t allowed to have cars, and I have still gotten comments about my lack of car, though not to the extent that the OP has, geez.

          What stood out to me in this one is that her bus is reliable every single day!!!! Here our in-town bus is, but the intercity bus line can be kind of a crap shoot (and at one point when I was on it, cops had to be called) as to whether or not it comes, or comes on time, or if the bus driver doesn’t randomly kick you off in the middle of nowhere and tell you to catch another bus–yes, really. I would not want to rely on the county bus to get me to work on time, lemme tell ya. A lot of bus lines are kind of terrible, so it’s possible that the OP’s coworkers are assuming that is the case, I guess.

          1. Felicia*

            In Toronto and Montreal (the only ones I have personal experience with), you don’t need a car in the same way as in NYC and its not weird to not have one, but definitely the public transit in most of the world is not reliable or extensive in other places in teh same way. I’ve tried it in the small towns my friends are from and I could never rely on it there

            1. the_scientist*

              It’s funny, because I’m from the GTA and it’s true-people of all walks of life use public transit in Toronto because it is a more convenient way to commute within the city and in from suburban surroundings. Not that Toronto’s transit system should be looked to as a model of efficiency, because it is totally not….and growing up in the suburbs, you need a car to get anywhere because public transit is unreliable.

              However, I recently went to visit a friend who was working in Atlanta, Georgia, and the difference I saw really shocked me. Firstly, Atlanta is one of the least pedestrian-friendly places I’ve ever visited- things are far apart, sidewalks end randomly and cars whiz past on 4-lane roads. You most definitely need a car if you live there. Secondly, the subway system in Atlanta is not half bad, and yet there is VERY clearly an attitude of “only poor people and non-white people use public transit here” (which, ugh). I was definitely something of an oddity on the subway and very clearly a tourist. And from what I understand, many US cities are like this.

              1. Stephanie*

                Yeah, I heard the joke that MARTA stood for “Moving Africans Rapidly Through Atlanta” quite a few times.

                I took MARTA from my aunt’s house in Brookhaven (which included 1.5-mi walk with spotty sidewalks) over to the Georgia Tech area, and my friend was baffled I took MARTA. She even drove me back to Brookhaven (which was out of her way) to “avoid MARTA.” Atlanta’s system isn’t even that bad!

                1. Xay*

                  Yeah, there is a lot of racist stigma about MARTA in Atlanta. I would ride it more, but because so many affluent neighborhoods resist having MARTA bus stops and extending the train lines, it is inconvenient for my commute. When I had to make regular trips downtown, I always rode MARTA because I’d rather read than hunt for parking.

                2. Emma*

                  The NYC area has a history of racist and classist anti-public transportation sentiment. I’d say it’s become a great public transit hub IN SPITE OF the many pro-personal-vehicle policies put in place from one Robert Moses, the dude whose vision and work has shaped the roadways and byways of NYC and its boroughs throughout the 20th century. He allegedly made the bridges on Long Island too low for buses to travel under so that “the kind of people who rode buses” wouldn’t be able to get to Jones Beach.

          2. Natalie*

            “in most of the rest of the world you cannot get ANYWHERE without one. ”

            FWIW, this may be true in large parts of North America but it is definitely not the norm in the rest of the world. The US is somewhat unique in our dependence on cars. There are only about 1 billion cars in the world (of 7 billion people) and that number is skewed by the amount of 2+ car households in North America. Bicycles outnumber cars worldwide by 2 to 1.

            1. Jamie*

              I read somewhere that the increased use of public transportation is why fridges are smaller in England.

              I always loved their tiny little fridge on As Time Goes By and looked it up – because I had one that small in my dorm room in college, but had never seen a house with one like that…and the answer I found was that because fewer people had cars it was more common to shop for few things more frequently – so they didn’t have to store a weeks worth of groceries at a time.

              No idea whether that’s true or not – but I found it interesting. And as someone who hates grocery shopping almost as much as root canals it made me so grateful I don’t have to stop on the way home every night for dinner.

              1. the gold digger*

                And the lack of cheap refrigeration is why in Chile, you can buy one egg at a time in the store that is one block from your house in what appears to be someone’s garage.

                1. Jamie*

                  Buying one egg at a time will be my particular circle of hell. That and users who say “there was an error message, but I don’t remember what it said.”

                2. Layla*

                  But Eggs don’t have to be refrigerated outside the US. Is the reason for being able to buy 1 egg due to people living from hand to mouth tho.

                3. TheSnarkyB*

                  Omg, I used to live in Santiago and I wish I had been old enough to take advantage of this! As someone who loves to bake, I would ADORE being able to buy one egg at a time. I always have to figure out what to do with the other 5 and I end up having eggs for dinner all week long. (I don’t eat breakfast)

                4. The gold digger*

                  Layla – I’m not sure. Chile has a pretty strong middle class, but refrigerators were not cheap. It took my roommate and me a while to find a used refrigerator when we rented our house. (Rental houses do not come with fridges!) It could be part of it – as you noted, eggs there don’t have to be refrigerated – but there were also a lot of other items that do need refrigeration that you could buy in very small amounts. My Chilean “mom” during my training did not have a fridge, which meant milk lasted one day.

                5. Marcela*

                  Fridges are not cheap in Chile, that’s true, Gold Digger. But the reason you could not find a used one was mostly due to the fact that we do not have the custom of buying second hand objects. As a matter of fact, there are only few markets where you can find used objects, mostly clothes or furniture, usually aimed to young people. Most adult people think that you get used things only if you are too poor to get new stuff and it’s embarrassing. Oh, and about fridges: I’ve never been in a place without frigde and my grandparents were really, very poor.

              2. Jim*

                I am from the uk the reason we don’t have massive fridges is our houses are a lot smaller than in the USA

              3. Rana*

                I’ve noticed here in Chicago that the grocery stores do tend to sell smaller versions of bulk items – kitty litter, flour, toilet paper, etc. – because they know that a lot of people will be shlepping them home by foot or mass transit, and that houses and apartments are smaller and have less room to store large quantities of things. It makes for more trips, yes, but I appreciate it.

            2. Chinook*

              Now before those from away start knockign us “lazy” North Americans, I would also like to point out that there are large distances between most communities over here. I was shocked when I was in Japan that I could bicycle between towns. Where I am from, not everyone who went to the same school I went to could have bicycled in because they lived 30 km away (and they weren’t even in the next town big enough to have a school). Since we lack a dense population, it doesn’t make financial sense to have the same type of public transportation found in other places. Many of us would like it but, when it takes an hour at 110 km/hour driving to get to the next town and the communities regularly under 1 million people, we can’t truly justify it.

              1. Another Ellie*

                Actually, non-densely populated countries like Denmark and Sweden have excellent rural public transit. And this does *not* excuse the abysmal public transportation in most of the large cities in the US.

            3. Jen in RO*

              I was going to say this too. In all European cities I’ve been in, public transportation has been reliable (if not always particularly clean). In terms of transportation, I think the US is basically its own would, that I admit is very alien to me and that I probably won’t be able to get until I actually see it with my own eyes.

            4. Bea W*

              I was really surprised when I recently went to the Netherlands. There are more bicycles than people, and you can pretty much get a train anywhere. Gas is very expensive as is car ownership. They have invested the money in great public transit and bicycle friendly infrastructure. My Dutch friends explain this by saying the country is very small and does not have its own fossil fuel resources so it is just seen as necessary.

              1. Rose*

                I studied abroad in the Netherlands and absolutely loved being able to bicycle everywhere. It’s even better than public transit because you don’t have to wait on trains or buses or worry about their schedule, and these no refueling. My dream would be to live in a city where I could just bike everywhere and only use the car for grocery runs, but I want to move back home to Atlanta near family and I don’t know if there’s another big city as non-bike and pedestrian friendly as Atlanta.

          3. Elizabeth West*

            In my city, you need a car. The bus is very slow; what would be a 15-minute drive is over an hour on the bus, and the coverage isn’t very good. Just not feasible for me, although plenty of people do take it. Another thing about here is that we have winter. It’s frigging freezing outside. I feel bad for the bus people in winter.

            When I lived in Santa Cruz, CA, I took the bus everywhere. It was reliable and the weather was so good I didn’t have to worry about standing outside.

          4. Daisy*

            ‘in most of the rest of the world you cannot get ANYWHERE without one’
            Shocking though it may be to you, the rest of the US does not constitute the ‘rest of the world’

          5. Sarah G.*

            It’s not just NYC; lots of people in Chicago (of every social class) don’t have/don’t need cars. Now I live in Denver, a much smaller city than Chicago, and the bus system is reliable and well-used, if not quite as comprehensive as Chicago’s public transit. Plenty of people of all classes use it.

            1. Bea W*

              Same in Boston. Busses and trains are packed at rush hour and for sporting events. Traffic sucks and parking is expensive and in low supply. Many people living in the city don’t have cars, and they may or may not have a drivers’ license. My grandmother didn’t get one until she was in her 70s prompted by a move to the burbs to be closer to her grandchildren. There was no public transit out where we lived.

          6. Rose*

            Most of the rest of the WORLD? The majority of the world can’t afford cars. Most of the rest of the US, though, yes.

        2. Anonymous*

          As a Westerner, I think it is so odd not to have a driver’s license. It’s like having green hair, while not entirely unheard of (at least in SF), it definitely draws attention.

          1. Anonymous*

            And I should add that pretty much everyone here hops on BART or the muni on occasion. Now I will have to start quizzing everyone to find out if they have a license. Gagh my curiosity.

            1. EB*

              Well, when I commuted in a lot of people drove to the nearest Caltrain or BART station, parked, and then took public transportation to and around SF. As a result, you see a mix of commuters on the muni everyday because of us commuters. Outside of SF public transport gets bad, but as the penninsula gets denser, we are seeing better public transport but only certain routes.

        3. Anonymous*

          I also live in a major metro area, and people would think you’re crazy for wanting to drive to the downtown core instead of taking transit!

      6. llamathatducks*

        Yeah, I was gonna say, this sounds almost definitely (probably subconsciously) racist but also CERTAINLY classist. Comments about “the type of people who ride the bus” can hardly not be.

        It’s true, though, that calling people on their prejudices, while accurate and justified, could raise the level of tension in the office. (Although if there are non-white and/or less-affluent employees who are overhearing this, they are probably noticing the racism/classism at least as much as you are, and confronting it could reassure them that you’re on their side.) But I would advise that if you’d rather not be THAT direct, you could forgo the words “racist” and “classist” and just say, “I think you’re being snobby with your comments about the type of people who ride the bus.” People might still bristle, but not in the same way.

    3. Katie the Fed*

      Thank you for bringing up the race issue. It’s so clear, but I’m sure they would gasp in denial if called out on it. I used to work in an area where I had to Metro to a very black neighborhood (Green Line – GASP!) and would walk or take a shuttle. All the comments I would get about “don’t you worry about getting shot?” “Have you been mugged yet?” OBVIOUSLY the undertone is that it’s a black area but nobody’s going to admit it.

      1. Forrest*

        To be fair, doesn’t the DC Green Line have the highest crime rates?

        There’s a strong connection between racism, crime rates and poverty rates. But it could be possible that people making those comments aren’t racists but the area is actually high in crime.

        1. Jamie*

          Yes, it’s not racist to be nervous in a high crime area – unless you would not be nervous in a high crime non-minority area.

          Most people who are afraid of crime are afraid of criminals – the race of whom is irrelevant.

          There is nothing wrong with exercising more caution in high crime areas than low…I would argue it would be foolish not to factor a neighborhoods track record into your actions.

        2. Katie the Fed*

          Not necessarily. It depends on the station. There are lot of people who make comments about certain neighborhoods in DC who I don’t think are studying crime reports and statistics.

          1. Anonymous*

            Agreed, for the most part bad neighborhoods are about perception. Spending time studying crime reports I’d never park a car in one of the “nice” (read whiter) neighborhoods near me because it has nearly triple the rate of people breaking into cars. But no one is going oh no a bad neighborhood.

            1. Chinook*

              That makes sense. Why would you break into cars in lower income neighbourhoods when the higher end ones would have better cars with better goods to steal? Criminals may be dumb but they aren’t stupid.

            2. Jamie*

              I was thinking about this and while I hadn’t looked up crime stats in a while I did because I was curious.

              I am 1.9% more likely to be a victim of theft in the town where I live than the area where I work.

              But my work neighborhood increases my chance of being murdered by 100%, raped by 86.8%, and assaulted by 95.8%…to name a couple specific crimes. AND the likelihood of my car being stolen at work is 95.6% higher than from my home.

              My point isn’t that I’m a scardy-cat – I come here every single day and sometimes work alone in the building and sometimes at odd hours and I’m fine – so I don’t let it cripple me but I’d be out of my mind to feel as safe here as I would in my neighborhood. It’s not racist or classist or any other ist to be more careful/nervous in places where statistics show you are more likely to be a victim.

            3. Bea W*

              That’s my experience. There is a perception that people in my neighborhood are dodging bullets on a daily basis. It’s not the case, either knowing by experience or looking at crime statistics. Police in my neighborhood say they get called for “domestics” more than anything else. There’s crime, like there’s crime everywhere in the city, but most people are law abiding citizens going on about their daily business.

          2. fposte*

            Yes, agreed. This came up a lot when I lived on the south side of Chicago–people thought all minority-dominant neighborhoods were poor/high-crime neighborhoods.

            1. Josh S*

              And to be fair, most Chicagoans lump the entire South Side together, equating Englewood and Hyde Park, etc. It’s rather infuriating. Probably more so to the variety of people who live in those neighborhoods.

          3. Tiff*

            I grew up in PG county in a nice little suburban neighborhood, but the things I heard about PG from my coworkers in VA (who had never even been there) – you’d think I lived in a war zone.

            All that “but the numbers speak for themselves” folks tend to be the ones not looking at the numbers at all. I had to tell one of my former co-workers point blank that seeing 10 black people doesn’t automatically mean you’re in the ghetto. Idiot.

        3. Natalie*

          I would be curious to know if the average Green Line Metro rider was more likely to be a victim of crime than the average DC rush hour driver is to be injured in a car accident. It seems probable to me that driving may still be more dangerous overall.

          1. Stephanie*

            There’s definitely a problem with muggings/robberies in the Shaw/U St./Columbia Heights section of the green line. My best guess is that it’s due to the increasing mix of have and have-nots in the area. But even factoring in that, I still bet it’s safer to take public transit to work than drive to work.

      2. Stephanie*

        I used to live in Anacostia. The way my coworkers acted, you would have thought I lived in Juarez and was dodging bullet and corpses on my one-block walk to the Metro.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          OMG the way people talk about Anacostia! I doubt any of them have even been there! Just wait until they gentrify it though…

          1. Stephanie*

            It was still pretty transitional when I lived there, but it honestly wasn’t that bad. Some blocks were gorgeous (like where I lived) and some looked like Hamsterdam from S3 of the Wire. A lot of it is the reputation from the 80s and 90s.

            It’s already gentrifying- half of my neighbors were white. Granted, these were houses, not apartments (I was doing rent-by-owner). I wouldn’t say there was a ton in the neighborhood, but it was REALLY convenient to lots of other areas like Eastern Market, H St., Shaw/U St./Columbia Heights, and even Alexandria/Arlington.

            Compounding this is that I actually worked in Old Town Alexandria. A lot of my coworkers were still convinced DC was still the DC of the 80s and 90s and barely left Virginia. I found housing near the Metro in Arlington/Alexandria was way too expensive, Anacostia was a 15-minute drive to my office (or a 25-minute train ride) and was convenient to all of my extracurricular/social activities.

            As you can tell, I’ve had to make this argument several times to people. :)

            1. Ally*

              I’ve heard recently from a few different people “Anacostia is really up and coming now!” LOL.

              I was on the metro by Clarendon and the train stopped in-between stations and a tourist said “oh my god, there was probably a shooting!” after the train driver announced there was a malfunction with the train at the station.

        2. Rose*

          I’m not even from DC but chuckle with recognition when hearing this. People act like Anacostia is the capital of some corrupt third world country.

      3. SAF*

        I live in Petworth – very close to the GA Ave metro station. And I ride the bus, as the metro does not go where I need to go. (The husband takes metrorail.)

        Yes, perception of this neighborhood is interesting, and absolutely race-based rather than reality based. (Yes, we are still a majority black neighborhood, but in terms of crime rate we are not what folks looking from the outside expect.)

        I have lived here since before the rail station opened. We have many bus lines, and you can get almost anywhere in the city from here by bus. New folks (mainly white) will generally ride the train even if it is less convenient to their final destination. Longtime residents will ride whatever gets them to their destination most efficiently, with a slight bias for the bus. It’s really interesting, and a bit upsetting.

        As a longtime white resident who rides the bus, the reactions I get from the newer folks really weird me out and often insult me.

        1. Stephanie*

          I looked at houses in Petworth. It was interesting the amount of ads I saw with things like “Only a 20-minute walk from the Petworth Metro!” or “Only 1.5 mi away from the Petworth station!”

          DC is better than most cities about buses, but there definitely is some bus prejudice.

          1. SAF*

            I don’t get that. If you are a 20 minute walk to my metro, you are probably RIGHT ON a bus line that will take you directly to where you want to go.

  3. ALex*

    Oh my goodness I HAVE THE SAME PROBLEM!!!! I also do not have a license and I take the bus to work. This is not something that I’ve every thought to ask Allison about though – I will definitely use her advice to try to stop the comments/requests to give rides!

    The same is true where I live – most of the people that ride the bus are minorities, however, I am also a minority (woman) and still get the same kind of “motherly” comments from everyone about how to avoid any trouble on the bus.

    I am new to the working world (I just graduated from college last year) and I was actually really surprised at how bothered people are to learn that I take the bus. I’ve never considered it a problem or a hassle to ride the bus (It can sometimes be slow/late but those are things that you learn to deal with) When it is raining outside I am practically forced into peoples cars because in their eyes the only thing worse than riding the bus is riding the bus in the rain!

    I even had some people tell me about various ways to save up for a car and people sent me car dealership specials because they assume the reason that I do not drive is because I cannot afford a car (that is not the case – I can afford a car but choose not to spend the money on one at this time)

  4. Anonymous Too*

    I find this interesting. For two years, you have been riding the bus with success. Why is it a problem now? I think a lot of it is to do with the fact that most people who ride the bus are minority and of low income. They just can’t relate and don’t want to. These people are just have insensitivities (racial and socio-economic). I am part of the minority majority and have notice this stuff a lot more lately. Plus, I agree with AAM. Mention the racial aspect of it. Then you will really see who is doing it out of concern.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      I figure other people on the bus during commuting hours are also trying to get to work. So they’re probably not interested in raping/mugging me. Usually.

      1. Kelly L.*

        The worst I ever get is the “whatcha reeeeeeeeeeading?” guys. Terribly annoying, especially when they call me a bitch when I don’t want to converse further, but not rape.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          I once allowed some guy to chat me up that way, and agreed to go out with him. He was a congressional intern (icckkkkkk) for the other party (even ickkkkkkier!).

          1. Esra*

            Man, go that guy. I wear sunglasses on the subway and bought the chunky headphones, and still get the stands-too-close-and-tries-to-start-a-conversation jerks.

        2. UK HR Bod*

          Now that is a cultural difference. On the tube here, if someone talks to you (and they aren’t a tourist) then they are odd. And probably out to get you / convert you – or worse, actually trying to have a real conversation. We don’t do those on public transport here. Unless the train breaks down, in which case (after a while) we might tut and shake our heads at each other, eventually progressing to a short muttered sentence about the delay.

      2. SAF*

        Well, except for the interns (trying to appear important) and the schoolkids (trying to impress each other.)

    2. Chinook*

      Am I the only one confused by equating those who ride the bus with those who are of a poorer class or of a certain racial group? I live in part of the country with almost no intercity transportation, has an economy dependent on pulling fossil fuels from the ground and where most people drive to work but the buses and trains are always packed to the gills at rush hour. In fact, when my local city cancelled their bus to the nearby “big city,” the commuters contacted a private bus company and arranged for a competing service to start up! It is accepted practice around here that it is more economical to take the bus(of coursem parking rates downtown are 2nd only to New York city) if you have a job that allows you to work around when it runs.

      1. Felicia*

        I’ll admit its an attitude i’m unfamiliar with. Everyone here takes the bus and subway, from all races and classes. Most locals agree that it’s the only logical way to get downtown. I did a temp position in a downtown office, and if you didn’t take the subway it would be considered unusual. I have heard second hand about this attitude from more suburban areas where less people take public transit in general. I don’t drive because it makes no economic sense to, but I also have no desire to, since i’ve been taking public transit my whole life and have never needed to. If I moved to other cities though that are so designed around the car that they don’t even have sidewalks, i might change my mind.

        1. KarenT*

          I think it depends where you live (and I don’t mean Canada vs US so much as city vs suburb or rural).
          I live in Toronto, where taking public transit is very common in the way it is in NYC. People from all walks of life take transit.
          However, go out to the suburbs and you will find the attitude with public transit to be very different and I think the scenario the OP describes would be unfortunately common.

          1. Felicia*

            I live in Toronto too!:) I think the scenario the OP talks about would definitely be common in places like Richmond Hill or Markham (that’s where i’ve heard about it happening, but never personally experienced it because i don’t spend much time in those places). But yay fellow Torontonian!

            1. Anonymous*

              Another Toronto-ian here! I think also within the City there is a hierarchy between the modes of transit. I know people who will do the subway, and maybe the streetcar, but not the city-bus. But they would do the executive express bus to Richmond Hill or Markham or GO Transit bus/train.

              1. Chinook*

                I always preferred the streetcar, subway or LRT to the bus but not for class reasons. I am honestly terrified of getting lost in a new palce and I know that, if I take a mode of transportation that leaves a trail (like rails), oddds are pretty good that I can get off at the next stop, cross the track and get back on to go in the direction I meant. Either that or I stay on until it finishes it’s circuit. Buses change their routes but subways don’t!

                1. Anonymous*

                  Yes..agreed. Fist shake to bus drivers (and street car drivers too) who don’t announce short turns until right before they do it!

                2. Felicia*

                  I’ve had an experience last week with a streetcar changing its route…. i didn’t know they could, so i got really confused:P Though since all modes of public transit in Toronto have started announcing stop names, i’ve become a lot less worried about getting lost. I got lost my first time going to middle school because they didn’t announce stops back then.

                3. danr*

                  Live in a city like NYC, where there is a lot of interconnectivity, and subways do run on other lines now and then… and yes, it causes great confusion even when the PA system works.

              2. Felicia*

                The subway and streetcar are much better, and many people drive to certain subway stations and park there all day. the bus is also much slower than the subway, so it makes sense to take the subway as much as possible. I think the closer you live/work to a subway station, the more likely you are to take public transit regularly. I find the common attitude towards the YRT and Viva is you don’t do it with any other choice. I think that people within the city (as opposed to people in places like Richmond Hill or Markham) are most open to public transit. I know my mom works in a big office in Richmond Hill where no one drives, and it’d be considered unusual to take the bus even though a YRT bus goes right there.

                1. Anonymous*

                  Viva runs every ten minutes (at least during the day). YRT service is much spottier from what I hear

              3. the_scientist*

                Grew up in Markham, holla! I spent many miserable years as a student taking the bus to and from my summer job. Public transit out here in the burbs is atrocious- unreliable, infrequent, expensive, and takes forever to get anywhere. I’m moving back soon and already dreading it, as I don’t have a car :(

                1. Anonymous*

                  Yah I don’t have a lot of experience with VIVA or YRT, except for where the direct/express lines from Finch right to the Seneca campus/the office campus around there. It was great and convenient, but a bit expensive once you included that fare plus the TTC fare.

                2. Felicia*

                  the YRT service is definitely spotty at best. A half an hour wait for a bus is not unusual and they don’t actually go most places. I think the biggest problem though is that the TTC isn’t connected to any of the surrounding bus services which makes things expensive.

              4. Jazzy Red*

                Hello, all you Toronto people! I visited your lovely city along time ago, and I would go back for another visit in a heartbeat.

                While I was there, I tried getting up the nerve to take the subway (never been on one), but I was too timid and worried about getting lost. It’s been a long time, but going underground still freaks me out.

                Where I live now, everything is very far-flung, and there is no real mass transit. A car is real necessity. If a bus came through my subdivision and went past my workplace, I’d be taking that 3-4 times a week instead of my car.

            2. Richmond Hiller*

              No way! Public transit is positively worshipped in York Region. People almost revolted when the VIVA drivers went on strike last year. Think about it: a four person family might have two parents going to work, one going to high school, and one going downtown for university, and only one car. The VIVA blue to Finch is so packed you can’t even get a seat during rush hour, and it comes every ten minutes!

  5. Anonymous*

    At your office, is an intern or other non-exempt employee supposed to clock out for a business lunch or presentation where lunch is given? Or are they allowed to take their normal unpaid lunch afterwards?

    1. AJ-in-Memphis*

      Generally, if the lunch is work-related and the intern/hourly employee is working (i.e., registering, greeting, cleaning, etc..) then this is considered work-time and I’m pretty sure should have to be paid and separated from unpaid lunch breaks. Around here, separate unpaid lunch breaks are taken. You should check with your state labor office and see how they say this should be handled.

      1. Anonymous*

        The instances I’m mainly concerned with are 1) corporate presentations where the intern is taking notes to be used later and 2) formal lunches with higher ups – the type many interns are invited to or internship programs have set up

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Hi Anonymous, you’re welcome to email this question to me if you’d like, but I try to keep comment threads on the topic of the original post. Thank you!

          1. ThursdaysGeek*

            I was trying to figure out why riding the bus might affect whether you clocked out for business lunches!

        2. Josh S*

          And she’s usually really fast at giving responses, so that’s definitely the way to go!

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Not anymore I’m not, or at least not as reliably as before. Volume of mail keeps going up (which is great and I’m glad for it, but I’m no longer as on top of it as before).

  6. Jamie*

    I’m sure it gets annoying, but as Alison mentions I’d be polite when turning down the offers of rides. Because even though riding the bus is a totally fine and legitimate option you may find yourself not feeling well one day, or carrying home some cumbersome items – or in a thunderstorm and you may be glad you didn’t offend the people willing to give you a life.

    I think it’s great that you’re not dependent on your co-workers for transportation, so many of these scenarios go the other way.

    And yeah, there is probably some mothering going on. I’m not excusing it, and they should immediately stop when you tell them to, but when you say it’s “not a particularly rough area” I’m reading that as a not particularly safe area either.

    People who don’t take public transportation may view it as scarier and more inconvenient than it is – I’ll admit it – I don’t take it so it seems totally daunting and a little frightening to me. So while it’s not your co-workers place to be protective of you, and you shouldn’t have to put up with it, sometimes the mother hen thing really is out of genuine concern.

    Although I really don’t get why they harp on it. Ask a time or two and drop it – but that’s me.

    1. Jamie*

      “give you a life” That should be “give you a ride.” which is a totally separate word. Stupid fingers.

      1. Evan*

        And I thought you were pointing out how helpful they were being when they might be saving OP’s life in a particularly violent thunderstorm! :)

      2. Defense Attorney for Jamie's Fingers*

        Perhaps you were typing the word “lift,” as in “give you a lift”?

        1. Jamie*

          Damn – YES – that’s it! I couldn’t figure out how I got that particular typo.

          I would like to keep you on retainer – my fingers need representation.

          1. CollegeAdmin*

            Defense Attorney for Jamie’s Fingers here! That one was pro-bono. My retainer fee is a blessing from the IT gods in the form of a functioning printer for the day, any chance you can swing that one? :)

    2. Job seeker*

      Jamie, when I was about 19 and starting out I took a bus to work in the city. I didn’t have my own car and besides all day parking was expensive. Many business people did ride and park their cars outside of the city in parking lots.

      I worked in an area that was safe but had a bad section close by and you would not want to be there by yourself at night. I remember having to catch a bus one time and it was dark. I was definitely afraid.

      There are many different types of people that ride public transportation and it is interesting. I saw a lady that made sounds like a dog, a man that would sing and all sorts of things. If I was this OP I might take some people up on that offer of a ride home. There is nothing wrong with taking a bus but I would rather not.

      1. Tasha*

        I took buses to and from school (60+ minutes each day) from a small town to a college town when I was 14 and 15, and I encountered similar things on occasion. However, things seemed much safer between 7 am and 9 pm. There were police officers at the main bus terminal who gently persuaded the occasional ranting drunk guy to leave and announced departing buses. In those two years, I was legitimately frightened for my safety less than a dozen times, and I was always able to catch up on my homework and reading en route.

        Now that I’m living in Boston, everyone seems to take public transportation and it’s much safer at all hours. I’d never question someone else’s choice to take public transit, but it seems to be a much easier decision when the system is already popular.

      2. Anonymous*

        Singing out loud was always a way to be left alone on the street, etc, in DC. As a physically unprepossessing person, it was a fun discovery.

  7. km*

    First of all, OP, you have my sympathy, in your position I would also be fed up and feeling like my coworkers had some major issues with racism and classism. In addition to all the good advice above, as a fellow bus passenger, I would also advise adding something about how much you LOVE taking the bus when you’re shutting down the conversation. (If you don’t love taking the bus and merely tolerate it, maybe fudge the truth.) Mention how much you love being able to read/cross-stitch/catch up on email during your morning commute. Rhapsodize about how you’re going to buy a pony with the amount of money you’re probably saving on gas. Et cetera.

    I’m fortunate enough to live in a major metropolitan area so my fellow bus passengers are people of all ages, races and apparently income levels, and my coworkers would be more likely to think I was weird if they found out I drove to work. But when I visit my suburban hometown, people are SHOCKED that I manage to live without a car and that I somehow manage to struggle through life doing things like carrying home groceries on the bus. I just try to make it sound like they’re the ones who are missing out and they don’t even know it.

    1. Anonymous*

      This is helpful. If you make it sound like this is an enjoyable experience for you it will cut down on the offers. Though when it is raining and snowing (when I most want a professional behind the wheel rather than an amateur) is when people will continue to offer rides the most.

      1. km*

        Which is so weird, because I associate rain and snow with the influx of public transportation amateurs. Like, people who don’t want to be driving in this weather but never learned a basic lesson about letting people de-board before they try to board. If someone tries to offer the OP a ride home in bad weather, OP should be like, “You don’t want to be driving in that dangerous weather! Take the bus with me! I’ll even teach you how to not put your bag on the empty seat next to you like a clueless amateur asshole!”

        1. the gold digger*

          The seat hoggers! SO RUDE! And then the ones who sit on the outside seat with an emtpy seat next to the window? I have often wished for the power to zap people out of existence.

            1. the gold digger*

              Ha! I’m lucky. The seat hoggers – and the occasional letting their kids eat and spill food-ers – are the only real problem here. And the occasional drunk reeking of whatever at 5 pm. But not that many people take the bus here, so all the crowding issues are almost non-existent. We do, however, have a lot of people who don’t understand that you board at the front and get off at the back.

              1. Jamie*

                Very well written, but I have to say it makes the entire experience seem like a freaking nightmare.

                Maybe this is what people at the OP’s work are trying to save her from? (Although they would still be wrong.)

                1. Cat*

                  No, I mean, they’re the worst people for a reason; not everyone is like them. I could easily write an article about the ten worst drivers, and it doesn’t mean driving is a nightmare. (Okay, rush hour driving is my nightmare and that is why I live in an urban area with good public transportation, but I know not everyone feels that way.)

            2. Esra*

              I love #3. In the summer on the TTC, that happens and you hear at least three mutterings of “bloody tourists.”

            3. Ally*

              oh gosh #5 and #6. I have snapped at people “you aren’t the only one’s getting off the train!” Then I felt like a total jerk and embarrassed. Both times after a very long day at work, okay.

          1. Lalaith*

            Ooooh, yes. On my bus the seats lean back, so you’ll occasionally get the Jerkiest of All Jerks, who will sit in an aisle seat in front of an empty row and lean back, effectively blocking THREE EXTRA SEATS. Ugh!

        2. Dana*

          Or not leave your legs so wide open, as if you’ve got so much between them you couldn’t possibly close them, for the mere comfort of the person next to you.

          1. Paula*

            I always feel bad for the legs-wide-open guys. (And it’s always guys.) I assume they’ve got a raging case of Elephantine Testicles. It must be so painful for them, the poor dears.

          2. Tax Nerd*

            I call those people inseamers. Because they seem to think that the rest of us want to see their inseams.

            1. Jazzy Red*

              Kind of like the man who showed Edith Bunker the lining of his raincoat, and incidently, was so poor he didn’t have any pants.

          3. Rana*

            I have to admit I have absolutely no compunctions about forcing my way into those seats, especially now that I’m pregnant. It’s a seat, I want it, get the ef out of my way.

            1. Emma*

              Speaking of forcing your way into seats, let me amuse/disgust you all with a blatant tale of racism aboard the PATH train. Waiting aboard the Newark-bound train at the WTC station one day, ages ago, I observe this suit actively in the process of parking his behind into a seat when this gruff woman somehow, disobeying all laws of physics, wedges herself behind him and steals his seat. He’s obviously annoyed and says “Hey, I was sitting there!” and she launches into this racist tirade with” this isn’t how you treat women in America; we don’t treat our women like that here” and other such bovine feces. She was a White woman and he was a well-dressed Middle Eastern looking fellow. He was so upset he went into another train car. And this scumbag woman muttered and looked about for support.

              1. Rana*

                Wow. Poor man!

                (I have to say, I’ve been generally pleased with how polite people around here are on the El. Sometimes on the bus things can get a bit rowdy, but I’ve never had the transit horror stories I’ve heard about elsewhere, or like what I experienced in San Diego (where I learned how to fake sleep on the busses to avoid being chatted up by impaired people).)

    2. Anonymous*

      “I’m fortunate enough to live in a major metropolitan area so my fellow bus passengers are people of all ages, races and apparently income levels.”

      Same here. A huge chunk of my city’s population works downtown and parking is ridiculously expensive – at my last workplace it was $14 a day! I think someone would have to be pretty nuts to want to spend $280 a month in parking fees alone, on top of the other expenses related to owning a car. One of my husband’s coworkers has 2 cars, and his wife has a third, and they still take the bus to work.

      1. km*

        Yup, most of the parking garages near my downtown office are like $30/day. There are a lot of things I dislike about our public transportation system, but being jumbled in with people from aaaaaaall walks of life is not one of them.

        1. Chinook*

          Oh, are we going to brag about why we take the bus? $26/day is the early bird special. Most places here are about $35 and a cheap monthly parking spot, if you can find it, can cost you $400/month (and that probably doesn’t include a plug in for winter). And most of these spots are filled by 9 am.

          Add to that the fact that I can get a tax credit worth 1/12th of my monthly transit pass and the fact that I can sleep while the bus driver gets us through insane traffice and I can’t see why most people wouldn’t want to do that. What is even cooler is that this isn’t happenning in some place with intense urbanization like Europe, Japan or NY and I am totally satisified with my choice.

          1. km*

            See, if we keep up this high level of bragging, I’m sure we can convince the OP’s coworkers in no time that they’re the ones who are being weird/foolish/unsafe for NOT taking the bus.

          2. Natalie*

            Yes, let’s brag!

            Not only am I saving an assload of money by not owning a car, I happen to live so close to work that I can bus or bike in faster than I could drive in. And there is a car sharing service in my city with a vehicle 1/2 a block from my apartment, so when I need to go to a suburban big box store I get to take a pretty new car that is cleaned, maintained, and gassed up by someone else. It’s a beautiful thing.

            1. Trillian*

              Other advantages to taking the bus:
              – Weight control. It has to be good for a few pounds a year, walking, standing, chasing
              – Balance practice.
              – Memory exercise. Carrying a map in your head of all the routes and timetables.
              – Map reading and timetable interpretation
              – Serendipity. When someone else is driving, you get to look around, discover stores, parks, public art
              – An excuse to wear comfortable shoes. No way am I riding transit in heels
              – People-watching.

            2. Chinook*

              Oh yes, I forgot abotu car sharing. There are a dozen of them parked in prime locations around downtown, for free, that allow you 2Go if you are a member. I have a car because I live out in the boonies, but if I lived downtown or on the LRT line, I would so ditch my car and sign up for that. I only use my car once or twice a week now for short errands anyway and that seems just as cheap as ownign one and even more convinient because you don’t have to remember wher you parked it – you can use any other ones that are available.

              1. Natalie*

                If you ever move to the city center, I highly recommend the car share. When we had a car we used it about the same amount as you, once or twice a week. When we decided to go carfree, we found that with a little bit of planning and an Amazon Prime subscription, we’ve only used the car share about once a month.

      2. kelly*

        I work in a Midwest college town where a parking pass on campus is over $1000 a year, but a bus pass is very cheap. Not to mention that both the main roads to campus heading east turn into bottlenecks during morning and evening rush hours. I still don’t know why the city and state haven’t emulated Minneapolis or Chicago and built a light rail network to reduce the congestion on the city roads and the Beltline. That never will happen with a light and high speed rail averse administration in power now. Then again, they are discussing spending $1 billion to expand and repair the Beltline.

        I do have a car but use only on weekends or to get groceries. The route I usually take to and from work goes through the better part of town with the houses, apartments, and condos in good repair. It’s mostly commuters to and from work downtown and on campus. The weekends are much different because I have to go through one of the transfer points, which I guess is one of the safer ones.

  8. Rebecca*

    People are so weird.

    I used to live about a mile from my office, which was in a very pedestrian-friendly neighborhood. I often walked to work, who wouldn’t want some extra exercise and a chance to be outside? It was a great way to get mentally prepared or wind down at the end of the day.

    I had so many people ask me about it and often people would stop to offer me a ride. I was always friendly when people offered me a ride (“No thank you, I am enjoying my walk!”) but it was so bizarre how people focused on it! They just could not believe that I walked to work instead of drove.

    The questions didn’t stop until I moved a couple of miles further away, too far to really walk in my work clothes unless necessary.

    I mean, people in NYC and other major metro areas take the subway and walk to work. I don’t know why people act like it is such a strange thing to do.

      1. Kelly L.*

        I used to walk to one of my jobs, where I worked about 15 minutes from my apartment on foot, and I’d get all these shocked comments about OMG YOU WAAAAALLLLLLLKED? And it was usually from the same people who talked about their gym habits all the time. What, I’m only allowed to get exercise in an Official Gym on Official Gym Equipment or else it’s weird?

        (Though a lot of that was the same old racist/classist stuff. They couldn’t believe I could possibly walk, in broad daylight in a high-traffic area, for 15 minutes without getting mugged by all the Scary People they thought were out there.)

        1. Thomas*

          I would love to be able to walk to work–it’s a reasonable distance, I just can’t because I’d have to walk through a stretch near the interstate exit that is, um, terrifying. (And sidewalkless). But I’m sick of exercising only on Official Gym Equipment.

        2. Lynn*

          I get this walking to my neighborhood book club. It’s never more than a mile from my house, in an area that is frankly known for being the “nice” part of town. Seriously, the police refer to it as “Mayberry” and have been known to personally distribute town council minutes door-to-door out of sheer boredom.

          And still everyone is all agog that I WALKED. ALL THAT WAY. Not even in official exercise clothing or anything.

        3. AgilePhalanges*

          Oh man. One of my co-workers was organizing a large meeting for our company, and people were complaining that they had to WALK “really far” to get to the gym (it was a sprawling resort instead of a high-rise hotel). Yes, a 10-minute stroll or 5-minute brisk walk is just such a horrible way to warm up and cool down from your workout. They should totally have found a place where you could just take an elevator and walk 12 feet before you know, getting on a treadmill. :-)

    1. Rana*

      Oh, gosh, this. California’s really bad for that. I kept getting people freaking out that OH MY GOD YOU WALKED IS YOUR CAR BROKEN and some even would see me walking (like a block away from work or home) and try to give me a lift. Oy.

  9. Tina*

    Wow, quite the drama over your public transportation. Working on an urban campus, most of us use public transportation because parking is limited and expensive, so most of us don’t think twice about it. Except for my boss, who absolutely refuses to step foot on public transportation because of particularly dramatic experiences.

    Every once in a while an acquaintance will ask me about the safety of the particular station closest to my office, but in more than ten years, I have never personally had an issue. There have been some incidents, but the same could be said of anywhere. I’m more likely to get hit by a car crossing the street in front of my office than for something to happen on the train. I just laugh it off, but I could see how it would be annoying if people did it so often.

  10. Chocolate Teapot*

    I live in a city and a lot of people take the bus to avoid high parking fees. Also, the local authorities promote the environmental aspect of 50 people on board 1 bus rather than 50 cars clogging up the road, so the price of a monthly bus ticket is also extremely reasonably priced.

  11. Denise*

    I have found the perfect way to shut down all comments about my taking the bus. I say in a very matter of fact tone: “I have a problem with Road Rage”. Any further comments are get a “You don’t WANT me driving”.

    Since you have indicated you don’t have a license, this really won’t work for you. But I thought you would like to know that you aren’t the only one getting a LOT of comments.

    Frankly, I would probebly (sp) be asking something like:
    “Why do you keep harping on my transportation? I’ve been late once in 2 years, what’s your issue?” That’s kinda rude, but geez, sometimes you have to be kinda rude to get someone to QUIT NAGGING.

    I have no idea if anyone is being racist, for me it is more a matter of: everyone else is driving, why am I such an oddball? People expect you to be like them. Also there may be some “She’s making us look bad because we are driving when we could be taking transit”.

    If you’re curious, the only time I accepted a ride home was the day I came staggering into work 3 hours late and squishing water out of my shoes. There had been an icestorm (not normal for this area) and I had to wade thru a thigh deep puddle to get into work. And the busses were totally messed up. The day before (when everything was ice and not HUGE puddles) I had been the only one to make it into work :-D

    1. Katie the Fed*

      I think I do have a problem with road rage. I’m frustrated and angry when I drive in. When I metro in I’m relaxed and happy.

      1. Anonymous*

        I was 3 blocks away! And trust me – there was NO way around. Plus I was 3 hours late. Going home would have taken

  12. plain jane*

    Ok, I got this at my last job too. I have a license, but no car. Some answers I gave:

    – I really like decompressing on the way home (listening to podcasts/reading/knitting), and sitting in the traffic is just stressful
    – I know, you really meet the most interesting people on the bus who you wouldn’t come into contact with otherwise
    – you really don’t want me on the road, I know I’m not as good a driver as everyone else
    – I’m saving up for x, and I’d prefer not to deal with maintenance on a car at the same time

  13. AJ-in-Memphis*

    Ha! They’re “scared” for you and want to help the helpless youngster. And they also think that by shaming the public transportation system and the people that use it, it makes their lives that much better.

    I think if they won’t listen after you’ve overtly told them to stop, then you could just politely ask them to ride with you so they can see that it’s so bad and neither are any of the people that choose ride the bus – since it is a personal choice. *eyeroll* Some people are so annoying.

  14. ChristineSW*

    I also don’t have a license and take the bus sometimes. Unfortunately, many of those on the bus are minorities, although I can’t comment on income levels. Nonetheless, the comments by your coworkers is inappropriate. If they continue to try to convince you it’s not safe, confidently remind them that you’ve been using the bus for two years without any problems.

    I’m not so sure about bringing up the racist issue. It could just be me being the type to not want to rock the boat, but I’d be worried that it’ll come across as accusatory.

    As for the ride offers: Honestly, I think your coworkers are just wanting to help. No, I don’t mind taking the bus once I’ve become comfortable with the route and have generally had no problems with other passengers. However, on a cold or rainy/snowy day, I’d certainly appreciate a lift from a coworker as it’d save me the trouble of having to walk in poor weather conditions or even wait at the bus stop if it’s running late. Now, if they continually push the issue despite polite refusals, then that can get annoying.

      1. V*

        I had the same question, but upon re-read I think she meant that it is unfortunate that more people don’t take advantage of the bus.

    1. ChristineSW*

      Ack….why did I say “unfortunately”?? *smacks forehead*

      I guess I was trying to say that “unfortunately”, her coworkers are right that many bus riders are minorities (who are frequently–but certainly not always–lower income). I was then going to say that it doesn’t mean that riding the bus is dangerous. As I said in my original post, I’ve had virtually no issues with other riders, which is also true for the OP.

      (FTR–I too am white, petite, and look young for my age. So yes, I’ll admit to getting a little nervous on occasion at the bus stop.)

      Sorry about that!!

      1. RLS*

        Once I re-read it too, the ambiguity smacked me in the face as well…I do blips like that all the time ::high five:: :)

  15. Yup*

    Yeah, the management of my former office was like this. I don’t think any of them had taken a bus since the yellow school bus and they had a mental block about it, particularly the idea that people using public transportation were engaged in a mysterious and inherently unreliable method of commuting.

    I like the idea of just matter of factly asking them, “Why are you so concerned about this?” or “Why are you so sure it’s unsafe?” or “Why do you think it’s a bad idea?” They might finally drop it if forced to articulate, “Because I find it scary!”

    But if you don’t feel like discussing it with them:
    “I don’t want the expense or hassle of car. This is much more convenient for me, especially with the company subsidy/discount on bus passes.”
    “I don’t have a license and don’t plan to get one.”
    “I hate sitting in traffic, and much prefer the time to read or listen to music during my commute.”
    “It’s actually a trend, you know. A lot of Millennials/recent graduates/young professionals prefer the bus and the train.”
    “I’m all about reducing my carbon footprint wherever I can.”
    “Hey, if you’re offering, I’d love a 2012 Honda Civic with satellite radio! Or a 20% raise! :: big toothy smile ::”

    FWIW, I always offer coworkers a lift if we leave the office at the same time. It just seems polite — “We’re heading the same way, can I give you a lift to the train station/bus stop/halfway home/wherever?”

    1. Kou*

      The last time someone asked me, I said I was enjoying the liberty of my free company bus pass vs a monthly car payment, car insurance payment, gas, maintenance, and $125/month parking fee (as was the charge at my last apartment).

      1. Chinook*

        The free bus pass was the best perk at one place I worked. Not only did I never have to remember to go get it (I do miss the one city where I could have it automatically top up my photo id bus card – no lines ever!) but I even got a tax credit at the end of the year!

  16. SB*

    You might live in my city, OP. Where I live there is public transit, sort of, but it’s only poorer minority people that take it. The only people that don’t drive are those that either can’t or can’t afford to. Public transit is a HUGE bone of contention because our traffic is terrible. An efficient, well-run public transit system would do wonders for our city in terms of drawing tourists and business. At present public transit, is small, poorly run and woefully inefficient, and it is assured to be kept that way because the people with the power (read: wealthy, white suburbanites) DO NOT WANT IT IN THEIR TOWN. They fear their safe bedroom communities will be over run with crime (read: poor, black people) if the transit system were allowed to function in a way that would allow people to get to places. At one point, I lived in the city and took the train out of convenience. Taking the train (including walking to and from the train station) took 20 minutes, driving took 40. People FREAKED out when they found out I took the train. One relative even bought me pepper spray. Everyone was sure I was going to get raped, mugged and murdered. People at my work were also sure that I would be late every single day, and probably wouldn’t ever make it home. (I was late one day because someone fell on the tracks) I used to nanny every summer in Europe (in high school and college), and would take the kids every where on public transit. I miss the ease and convenience and fun of taking the train there.

      1. SB*

        Yes, guilty as charged. I moved to ATL from elsewhere, and I do not understand the anti-public transit sentiment. Anyone that I’ve talked to that’s anti public transit has trouble with the whole thinly veiled racism thing. They always say crime, and point to the fact that crime is rampant in the areas that transit runs. When you present that the two aren’t cause and effect (crime was already rampant in those areas), they just shut down. Just thinking about it makes me pull out my soapbox and scream.

    1. Editor*

      The township next to my suburban borough once blocked a scheme to set up bus shelters that would be paid for by the three large advertisements decorating the shelters, because graffitti!!! (I assume this was a totally racist fear, plus some anxiety that the township itself might someday have to divert people from roadwork to clean up bus stop eyesores. Sigh.)

      Bus riders there have to wait in the open air next to small signs on the shoulder of roads without curbs or sidewalks and pray they don’t get splashed or mudded during bad weather. It’s completely unwarranted, in my opinion, for a municipality run by old white guys to block bus shelters and make it harder for poorer people (mostly white, in that township) to take the bus.

      1. Anonymous*

        The funny thing is, who do these people think are going to come work those service jobs in their community? And how will they get there?

        1. Kelly L.*

          This actually happened in A City Near Me. They opened a swanky new mall and there was a push for there to be no public transportation to it, so low-income people couldn’t come loiter in it. Then someone pointed out that you needed people to actually work in the stores, and rich people aren’t exactly falling over themselves to work retail and food court jobs…

        2. SB*

          I’ve actually found that, in Atlanta at least, even these retail jobs will only hire so many people who take public transit if they hire them at all. They fear people not being in when they need them to be. While I didn’t work retail, I was late much more frequently when I drove due to terrible and unpredictable traffic than I ever was due to train issues (what, it’s raining?! I’ve suddenly forgotten everything I ever learned in drivers ed, which wasn’t much).

  17. KLH*

    Another bus rider here! I have a license and no legal or health impairments; it just hasn’t been a good idea for me to own a car for a while.

  18. Ruffingit*

    This is totally absurd and ridiculous in so many ways. I really hope you take Alison’s advice and just outright tell these people to stop. I might also say it something like this “I’ve been taking the bus for two years with no problem. I appreciate your concern, but I will not discuss this further. Please do not bring it up again.” That’s perhaps a bit more forceful than what Alison suggested, but I think with this group you need to get forceful or they won’t let it drop.

  19. Malissa*

    I’d look at my coworkers and ask, “Have you taken the bus lately?” or “What makes you think that about the bus?”
    Asking people to explain their irrational thoughts is usually the quickest way to shut down the conversation.

  20. Katy*

    This happens to me all the time too! I moved from a major metropolitan area where everyone was on public transit to a smaller city (but still a major midwest city). I’ve had people say to me that only homeless people take the bus. What?! It doesn’t bother me, probably because I judge the rampant “taking the elevator two floors” and “driving two blocks over” that is happening just as much as they are giving me the side-eye for taking the bus. I’m a stranger in a strange land :) Hang in there!

  21. Kou*

    Hahaha this is so funny. I’ve noticed this kind of thing has a really strong divide based on where you grew up among people I know. I and my childhood friends all grew up in assorted “rougher” (I chuckle at the classification) neighborhoods, but many of the people I know now are lifelong suburbanites. And though we live mostly the same way, there are some really specific points where you can see how our perceptions of safety and convenience diverge.

    The burbs folks don’t like going outside after dark, won’t ever live alone, will drive into downtown and spend 45mins/$20 for parking, etc. All things that are valid, but also things that are not even on the radar of the rest of us as concerns. When my boyfriend and I were looking to move downtown we had to spend months fielding the frantic warnings of the burbs friends about how dangerous it is there, for some reason I have yet to ever really figure out. There’s like, marginally more crime than anywhere else in this city. Hell, my boyfriend is kind of a burbs kid– when looking for our current place it *had* to have a garage because he didn’t feel safe parking a car in an un-secure, unlocked place. My mind boggles.

    1. Jamie*

      I think this has a lot to do with it.

      It’s not surprising that your comfort zone is shaped in large part by where you were raised. For many of us familiar = comfortable.

      1. Kou*

        Exactly. And to further that, I think the coping tactics are also different based on options. My burb friends have the general policy of “don’t go to places that are less safe” where ours is more “develop practices that will keep you safer.”

    2. Katie the Fed*

      I was raised in the ‘burbs in the 80s, when cities weren’t yet gentrified and crime was higher. So when I was about 6 or 7, my parents took me downtown for a ballgame, and I had an absolute meltdown and refused to leave the car. They finally got me to tell them what was wrong, and I was terrified of being murdered. They realized 1) they probably should stop watching the local news with me around and 2) we probably needed to get out a little more.

  22. Anonymous*

    This is such a random thing for people to comment on! I used to take the bus as my primary mode of transport before I started mostly cycling places, and almost everyone I know uses the bus as their primary mode of transport! I can’t imagine anyone having an issue with it… when I was a uni student, I relied on the bus, and I would say almost all students do.

    I live in the UK, I am supposing this post is from an american, since driving is more common there? The majority of people I know in my age group (early/mid 20s) do not own a car. Another common thing we have in my city is ‘park and ride’ where you park in a carpark outside of the city, and then take the bus in (since you can’t really drive anywhere in the city centre anyway, it’s mostly all pedestrian and buses/cycles only).

      1. bearing*

        It really isn’t all *that* silly when you consider how far apart things can be here compared to a lot of places in Europe. (Or even comparing the American Midwest to the American Northeast.)

        I think a lot of the misunderstandings come from people who spent most of their lives in very high-density areas with reliable public transportation, and people who spent most of their lives in areas where it wasn’t really possible to do routine shopping without a car. It’s frustrating to be used to public transit and then to move to a place where you can’t really rely on it (and where it often wouldn’t make financial sense considering the cost to taxpayers and the number of people who would actually use it — in some places it makes more sense to set up a subsidized door-to-door service for the disabled who are unable to drive, than to have regular buses running all the time!). It is also frustrating to be used to hopping in your car and going wherever you want whenever you want and then having to get used to the really-just-as-cool-but-different situation of living in a place where parking costs an arm and a leg and so you have to develop a whole new set of skills. Chalk it up to local culture and a cultural difference.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Using a car because things are far apart, that makes sense. The comments that sometimes crop up like “every mature adult ought to have a car”, that’s the silliness.

        2. Brightwanderer*

          Yeah, I would say there is a much more consistent culture of using the bus in the UK (as in, it’s just a “thing people do” rather than an economic marker) and that it’s probably because everything is smaller and closer together. I can get a bus from the end of my street into the city centre, from there I can get a bus to any of the nearby towns, I could also get a coach to London or a dozen other cities, and then there’s the train station, of course… public transport is very normal (though naturally we all complain constantly about it running late).

        3. Cat*

          But we’ve designed communities in the U.S. to require cars. That is not a requirement of the landscape; it’s something we did all by ourselves (and because GM campaigned to tear out various street car systems across the country).

          1. Windchime*

            Exactly. I know plenty of people where I live (greater Seattle area) who use public transportation, but it’s not practical for me. It takes me 15-20 minutes to drive to work, but to take the bus, I would have to drive 3 miles to the park-n-ride, take a bus to the transfer station, then take another bus to the office. I’m guessing it would be about a 45 minute ordeal.

            I grew up in Eastern Washington, where everything is miles apart. Work was 10 miles away and for years there was no bus. Once the bus came, my son started riding it to the junior college and it turned a 20 minute drive into a 90 minute bus trip because of transfers, etc. Just not practical.

            I recently visited Washington DC and was fascinated with the metro. I loved zipping around in that thing!

          2. Editor*

            Yes, road design has contributed to making mass transit seem weird or exotic to many people in the U.S.

            Some city dwellers, however, have no clue about rural life. One of my friends still recounts — with incredulity — a conversation she had with some city dweller who thought everyone could always take transit, and was opposed to private ownership of cars. My friend pointed out that she knew someone (me) that had grown up in a place where it took a four-mile drive by car to buy light bulbs because the area was rural and there was no mass transit. The woman informed her that people shouldn’t live there, and spent a lot of time arguing that my friend must have misunderstood and really, we just insisted on driving and didn’t really have to. There are urban kooks who are strange about cars, suburban kooks who are strange about garages and parking, and rural kooks who are strange about mass transit. Sigh.

            And although I have a rural background, I have no patience with the rural kook who says “I own my car and pay for gas and none of my tax dollars are going to subsidize Those People in the city who ride the train and the bus. They should pay their own way.” Explaining that rural people benefit from highway subsidies doesn’t overcome the inappropriate racist-classist conviction that mass transit enables freeloaders, whereas ever-wider highways are somehow guaranteed as fundamental to the pursuit of happiness and are as foundational as the right to bear arms.

        4. k*

          General taxes actually subsidize private car ownership quite a bit, since registration and gas fees don’t actually pay for the full costs of building and maintaining roads, Some of that is fine; we all need trucks to deliver goods, etc. , so it makes sense to pay for roads like we do for water infrastructure, etc. It’s not clear we need as many mega-highways, wide roads, etc. and that they should dominate cities and yes, even suburbs, to the degree that they do. But it is arguably more cost effective to provide extensive public transit options in cities and suburbs alike than it is to keep encouraging private car use. Also, there are a lot of externalities associated with car use, like pollution that contributes to asthma and lung cancer and the death toll from car crashes that are quite preventable. It’s much harder to put a cost on these effects, but when you consider that they do exist, it’s pretty clear that we’re subsidizing car ownership as much if not more than transit, when transit is the better deal for society as a whole.

          It’s just not true that offering people the choice of reasonable, dependable public transit requires more subsidization than encouraging car dependence, and there a good economic and environmental reasons to favor spending on transit.

  23. Gene*

    I WISH I could ride the bus to work; I would save a pile o’ money because my workplace would cover the cost of a bus pass! My trip would be a mile walk downhill (and up on the way home), an hour on two busses (including a 15 minute wait to transfer), then dropped off about 4 miles from my workplace. The trip is only 11 miles…

    So I continue to drive, as does everyone else who works here.

  24. Lily in NYC*

    If they are really harping this much about it (so weird), I would just tell them I started getting a ride from a neighbor. Just to get them to shut up. It doesn’t sound like explanations are working.

  25. Jubilance*

    When I started working downtown I started taking the bus and I love it. In fact, I recently moved because my previous place wasn’t on a bus line (never even thought about it when I first moved in) and I was forced to drive to a park & ride to catch the bus. It’s a lot faster and cheaper to hop on the bus than deal with rush hour traffic and pay ridiculous rates for my car to sit in a garage all day. Everyone downtown takes the bus, at least an express bus to the ‘burbs.

  26. Jamie*

    Just for the heck of it I looked up the public transportation route for me to get to work.

    Walking over a mile > one bus > one train > three more buses > walk another .5 mile for a total of 140 minutes. Maybe people have had convoluted and crazy commutes like that so they are overestimating how bad it is for the OP?

    1. Anonymous*

      Yeah, that’s like mine. In the car: 12 miles, 15 minutes. 18 if it’s all red. By bus, three routes, two transfers, about a 20 minute wait each time, total time roughly 2 hours 10 min.

      My goal is to save up and move out to the country and drive a big A__ truck, but your goals may be different.

      When I am in “the City” as SF likes to style itself, it’s BART, Muni, and taxis all the way baby. And I get to Richmond station via AmTrak. Slow but fun.

    2. Chinook*

      Jamie, not knowing where you are or what the park ‘n’ ride situation is, it is often more convinient to drive to a major bus stop, park there for the day and then take transit in. That is what I did at one job because a)they were paying for a bus pass in the city I didn’t live in and b)the commuter bus I could use had the last ride back to town leave at 4:30 and my job ended at 5. So, I would drive 15 minutes, park for free and the park ‘n’ ride and enjoy a 45 min. commute with someone else dealing with rush hour. Not ideal but definitely better than being stuck in traffic for more than an hour.

    3. ChristineSW*

      Ditto where I live!! And what really stinks is that our state’s paratransit system shadows the fixed bus routes. So, even though you can get door-to-door service, you could still end up on the vehicle for a long period because of my state’s convoluted system (plus, it’s a shared-ride service), particularly if you’re going more than a couple of towns away. UGH!!

    4. Cat*

      But if that’s the case, presumably they’d just say “wow, that must take a long time!” and she’d reply “Nope, where I live it’s super easy!” and there wouldn’t be months of angst and comments and blah blah blah.

    5. AgilePhalanges*

      I live in a town of 80,000 people (but yet we’re the “big city,” with the next largest city being a 3-hour drive away), and the bus system is only five years old or so. I just google-mapped it, and my driving commute is supposedly 17 minutes (though it takes me more like 14). When I switch to public transportation, it says it will take an hour, but that would involve walking to a bus stop that not only doesn’t have a good walking route (no sidewalks), but is also probably the ONE bus stop in town I’d feel the least safe (though still generally pretty safe) at, as it is directly in front of the local homeless shelter, and there have been incidences at the shelter and in its parking lot. I don’t know about the bus stop.

      There happens to be a stop right near my office, so that end of the commute would be easy, but it does involve one transfer, plus many people in town don’t live OR work convenient to a bus stop–the routing is like spokes of a wheel, so it’s possible that even to go five miles around the rim of the wheel, so to speak, would involve an hour of commuting on the buses, to get to the transfer station and back out on a different spoke, not to mention walking to/from the bus stops as necessary.

      Distance-wise, I could probably bike from home to work, but it’s up and over a large hill, with curvy roads with no shoulder. Elite cyclists actually train by riding that route, but I’m neither in shape enough nor brave enough to try. I have biked from my house to work ONCE, on a much longer route without the big hill to climb and descend, but it still freaked me out a bit to ride in traffic, though we do have nice bike lanes in some parts of town, plus it took me over an hour at my rate. :-)

  27. Cimorene*

    So I used to take the bus all the time, but now I drive because I drop my partner off at work on the way, and it’s actually cheaper to drive (it’s really close, but the bus tickets are so expensive even though we live, like, JUST outside of walking distance of his workplace, at least for chronically late people like us, so the money for gas we spend on driving is actually less than the cost of 10 bus tickets a week, and we have to have the car/car payments anyway). So I do not fear the bus, I have no problem with public transit, etc (if it weren’t so weirdly expensive, we’d use the bus way more often).

    But if I’m at work and leaving in my car and someone in my neighborhood is preparing to take the bus in the same direction I’m about to drive in, I always offer them a ride. It’s faster than the bus (no stopping every few blocks) and since I live in a small city, it’s not like I’m going out of my way. So while I agree that the people who are expressing horror at the bus in general are somewhere between illogical, classist, probably racist, and irritating, I wanted to point out that those who are offering you a ride may not be on the same page as the anti-bus folk.

    1. Editor*

      After my husband and I got out of college, we lived in a small city, walked to work, and took the bus for some things. We rented cars for visiting family and put off buying a car for a couple of years, and it was a good financial decision.

      When we got a car, we offered rides to anyone who might need them. We knew we were fortunate to have point-to-point transportation. But we would never have told someone not to take the bus. Offering rides is fine — nagging about the bus is absurd.

  28. Mike C.*

    OP, sorry your coworkers are a bunch of classist jerks.

    If I didn’t live 5 minutes from work with an unpredictable schedule, I would go back to taking the bus. There is nothing better than pulling out a laptop and playing Diablo 2 during heavy traffic.

    1. nyxalinth*

      Diablo 2 fan here, too!

      Do you ever get weird looks when playing? I remember playing in a coffee shop once, and some random guy saw my screen as I was working my way down to Mephisto. He said, “Oh that doesn’t look like a very nice place at all.” (said with the air of thinking all gamers are twisted loners living in their parent’s basement).

      I said, “Well, of course not.. It’s the bad guy’s lair, and it’s called the Durance of Hate. It is not the Durance of Happy Sunshine Sparkle Fun.” He just shook his head and walked away.

      Now years later, with that happy rainbow land joke level in Diablo 3, I’m at a loss as to what Id say lol.

      1. Esra*

        Protip! When playing as a necromancer, don’t complain audibly that you could’ve sworn you left some corpses around. Awkward times for all.

  29. Ed*

    One of the guys on my team rides the bus. I’ve never ridden the bus so I guess I did think it was a little unusual. We were talking about our commutes one day and I mentioned how it takes me 45 minutes to drive 4 miles. He lives 2 miles further away and it only takes him 35 minutes. The times when he runs into trouble is when we get out early or have to stay late and it doesn’t match the bus schedule. Either way, it’s nobody’s business how you get to work if your job doesn’t involve driving.

    1. Layla*

      How is it possible for the bus to be faster than driving ?
      Do you live in vastly different places ?

      I was about to comment that taking the bus is different from train / metro as the train has a possibility of being faster than driving. But buses nearly never are.

      *posted from my bus ride to work *

      1. Windchime*

        One way might be that the bus can take the transit (carpool) lane, which is nearly always moving faster around here than the rest of the freeway lanes. Combine that with an express route, and I could see it.

        1. Natalie*

          My city also has a couple of bus-only roads that have signal prioritization, so they get to zip through a virtually deserted road with no red lights.

  30. Stephanie*

    I grew up in suburban Dallas, where the buses basically only run on major thoroughfares (the Josey Ln. bus, the Marsh Ln. bus, etc.). The buses there were definitely associated with people who couldn’t afford a car.

    During the summers in high school, I had to go to half-day band camp. I couldn’t drive and both my parents worked, so I just took the DART bus home. I think half the band booster parents wanted to turn my parents into CPS for subjecting their 15-year-old to the horrors of DART. I got so many offers for rides (even from the band director!) and concerns for my well-being.

    Keep in mind, this is a predominately white, middle-class suburb…and I was catching the bus at 1 pm in the afternoon.

  31. nyxalinth*

    Hah, I have almost the opposite problem: I can count on one hand the number of times where I was offered a ride late at night, in poor weather, etc. But that’s just how Denver is.

    I don’t like driving. I always feel so uneasy when I try it. So I haven’t had my license for years. Sometimes it limits my job opportunities (I try to avoid more than one hour one-way, and more than 1-2 buses because inevitably, one of the buses is late, which makes me late, and you can only leave the house so early before it’s just ridiculous.

    I think here it’s much less of an issue over all. Not much snobbery, and all sorts from the homeless to people with Coach handbags ride the bus here.

  32. Sallie Ann*

    Your co-workers should shut up about your choice. You are an adult and how you get to work is up to you. That said, I am looking high and low for a job in he suburbs because I can’t take Chicago’s public transit systems any longer. The price keeps going up, the buses are poorly maintained, and my light rail route is so unreliable that I simply can’t take jobs with rigid start times, because it’s anybody’s guess when the train will actually arrive. I’ve also seen three fatal train accidents in the three years I’ve worked in the Loop. (I’m the only eyewitness to the first one; I’ve lost a lot of work time due to depositions and hearings.) I’m glad you are having a good experience with public transit, but your co-workers could be reacting to experiences like mine, as opposed to racism or classism.

    1. Kerr*

      It’s quite true that your coworkers’ comments could be coming from experience, and not ignorance. I’ve spent time commuting via bus, and almost always, it was annoying and/or miserable (crowded, hot, buses being too late or too early or taking double the time as the same trip in a car, plus the added bonus of creepy people).

      Either way, I’m sorry your coworkers are harping on it. It’s frustrating when people think that you really don’t mean what you say you mean.

  33. anonintheUK*

    I had a colleague like that who urged me to get a car. I work in a lovely city with no parking whatsoever, around which I am unable to direct anyone because the one way system seems to change every so often, and into which you would only drive if you were a)insane b)had a reserved parking space c)both.

  34. Felicia*

    Sort of on topic I highly recommend the book Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile by Taras Grescoe. Its a great book comparing pros and cons of public transit in major cities around the world, and gave me real perspective on places where it’s amazing and not so amazing, and why. It’s also made me want to live in Copenhagen :)

      1. Felicia*

        There was a part in the book on the mass transit system in Munich:) Copenhagen was my favourite, but it was interesting to learn about how effective it is other places

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          Yes, nothing like a nice clean Schnellbahn to take you from the airport to the centre of Munich at regular intervals.

  35. pidgeonpenelope*

    Here in the Seattle area, you’re practically shamed if you don’t take the bus (or walk/bike/carpool).

    1. Ruffingit*

      I’m from Oregon originally. It seems to be more encouraged in the Pacific Northwest to take the mass transit systems or walk. I miss that.

  36. Pussyfooter*

    Hi OP,
    It’s a busy day, so I’ll have to read everyone’s comments later*

    I couldn’t help but want to point out to your co-workers and boss, that you’ve been coming by bus for TWO YEARS and they considered everything fine. “Thanks for the concern, but nothing has changed. Everything’s still working fine.”

    Would also be tempted to invite (dare?) them to take the bus with you one time…make a fun outing of it or use it to promote less car use, etc.

  37. Miss Displaced*

    Wow. Weird office. Used to work with a woman from New York who didn’t drive or have a license and took the bus, but no one ever made a big deal over it.

    Be polite about the rides though. You never know when you might have to work super late, pouring rain, etc. and may appreciate it one day.

    Hopefully once they get used to you, this will all abate and they’ll tone it down.

  38. Ruffingit*

    One thing that occurs to me about this topic is how some people just can’t let something go. The question has been asked and answered, the rides refused. Why can’t people just leave it at that? It’s as though they’re looking for the OP to say: “You’re so right, taking the bus is dangerous and crazy, whatever have I been thinking?? I’ll go take on a car payment I don’t want/can’t afford so you all can feel better about how I choose to get to work.”

    Nothing less than that would apparently satisfy these people. It’s so irritating how many people think they get to offer their opinion on something they haven’t been asked about and which affects them in exactly NO WAY AT ALL.

    1. Pussyfooter*

      Maybe they see her as unaware of how dangerous (they think) her situation is. Like a young woman without much life experience who gets mixed up with an abusive boyfriend. They are trying to *rescue* her in her naivete!

      1. Ruffingit*

        Yes, I think that’s exactly what’s going on here and it’s so incredibly insulting. This is why I think it’s important for the OP to set good, clear boundaries and include the fact that she’s been taking the bus for two years with no problem.

    2. Brton3*

      The world is full of busybodies, just like it’s full of bullies. Unfortunately, you can’t wish them away – only develop strategies to get rid of them.

  39. Courtney*

    We actually have the opposite problem at my workplace. Our location is just slightly off the beaten track and therefore no public transportation. All of our job postings make it VERY clear that you must have reliable transportation because the bus just wont get you close enough to be realistic.

  40. Denise*

    There is one nice thing about your story. I’ve been in work environments where if anyone said they took a bus to work, half the office would talk behind their back how they hope something bad would happen to them during their commute. Your co-workers at least seem to like you and are looking out for your well-being, even if it’s a little misplaced.

    1. SAF*

      “if anyone said they took a bus to work, half the office would talk behind their back how they hope something bad would happen to them during their commute. ”


  41. Liz*

    I used to get horrified looks from my coworkers when I told them I walked to work… and walked home. Even in the dark. It’s a safe area, people, and I’m walking mainly across a well-lit patrolled area and then through a neighborhood I know well. Don’t make me lie to you about my transport so you leave me alone! (Seriously, they kept insisting on driving me and I really didn’t want it.)

  42. CathVWXYNot?*

    I’m yet another person who lives somewhere (Vancouver, BC) where taking transit is considered perfectly normal, and where the demographics of transit passengers are a pretty close match to those of the surrounding area as a whole. I cycle 4 days a week, take the bus and light rail 1 day a week, and sometimes put my bike on the rack on the front of the bus.

    In fact, our local news just reported that a couple – who met on the bus – got married on a city bus today!

  43. Bobby Digital*


    “I live in Brooklyn and I drive into midtown Manhattan everyday. No one else at my job drives to work. All of my coworkers (including my boss) constantly express their disbelief about my commute and offer to help me navigate the subway so that I feel more familiar with it. In fact, utilizing the subway was almost a requirement of this job, though that requirement was discarded after I was hired.”

  44. Elizabeth West*

    I wish we had trains here. Stupid, spread-out Midwest.

    I just want to shake the OP’s coworkers and boss and say “She’s fine, she’s on time, it’s none of your bidness!”

  45. Cassie*

    I take the bus to work (didn’t get my license until recently) and people have asked why I just don’t get my license and buy a car. It bugs the heck out of me – I get to work on time (most of the time; although I’m in an office setting so there is some leeway) and I never ask for rides. What business is it of their’s if I drive or I take the bus?

    I live about 20 miles from work, but I would have to take the 405 Freeway to get there – I believe it takes about 90 minutes during rush hour, barring any accidents. Even right now, at 7pm, google maps tells me it will take 40 minutes. I’ll admit that taking buses is not fun – I feel like I’m training for The Amazing Race, with my years of running after trains and buses – but at the end of the day, it’s my choice. My coworker, who lives a couple of cities over, complains every day about her 19 x 2 mile commute to and from work. And about road rage that she has exhibited for the day.

    Luckily, because traffic is crazy in Los Angeles, and parking on campus is limited and not cheap, employees and students are encouraged to take public transportation or bike. Our bus passes are subsidized (50%, I think). There are vanpools. About 1/3 of the career staff in my office takes either buses or vanpools.

    And don’t even get me started on people nagging about driving. Yes, *everyone* drives in Los Angeles. Yes, the bus and subway/train system is a joke (I personally think it’s okay – not as great as some other metropolitan cities, but it’s something). But stop trying to convince me that there’s something wrong with me just because I don’t drive or get my license when I turned 15 1/2. That actually has the opposite effect on me.

    1. Pussyfooter*

      “people have asked why I just don’t get my license and buy a car”

      Your experience reminds me of when I spent a year listening to talk radio and music instead of watching tv. It was peaceful (and the talk radio station in town was better back then).
      I was offered FIVE free tvs that year, sometimes by total strangers. A couple people got really overexcited and tried to convince me to accept their extra tvs. Goofy.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Right on! I don’t currently own a TV because I have no need for it. I just don’t watch it enough to make it worth paying for a TV and cable package. What I find interesting is how often people think you’re being a snob. “Did you see such and such TV show last night?” “No, I don’t have a TV.” And they then go into some explanation about how they only watch certain shows (so as to demonstrate they’re not constantly watching) or they do some “you’re really missing out” kind of verbiage.

        Other people’s choices are not a reflection on your own, good or bad. People would be a lot better off if they would understand that concept.

        1. Jamie*

          Other people’s choices are not a reflection on your own, good or bad.

          I love this – so well put. And so important to remember.

    2. Ruffingit*

      I always find it so weird when people ask why someone just doesn’t “buy a car” or some other big ticket item. It could very well be that the person in question can’t afford it. Maybe they have massive student loan debt, maybe they’re taking care of a sick parent and having to pay for that, maybe they’re paying off old debt mistakes. Whatever the case, it’s amazing how many people think you can just go out and buy a car. You never know what is going on under the surface for someone.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah, when a decent car is five figures even used–it’s not like people just have 10-15K lying around. :P I had to have help to finally buy a decent used car that wasn’t a falling-apart money trap. Before that, if someone asked me in an interview “Do you have reliable transportation?” I had to lie. “Sure. Sure I do.” NOT.

      2. Cassie*

        My coworker suggested I buy a car, so I could drive to the bus station a mile away, to take a vanpool. Yes, that’s exactly what I need to spend my money on (not to mention gas, insurance, and registration).

  46. Ally*

    Remember to be proud that you ride the bus! When your coworkers are driving home they aren’t able to space out or enjoy a good book. And cars are expensive and generally bad investments.

    In 2009, there were 23,382 fatalities from accidents in a passenger car or light truck. In that same year, there were 26 fatalities from bus accidents. Now, I don’t have the data for murders on a bus, but I think it’s safe to say that switching from car to bus significantly reduces your risk of DEATH.

    1. GL*

      This was going to be my point: vehicle collisions happen frequently, but buses are rarely involved. As bad as fatalities are, the chance of injury in a car is also much higher, and can result in a few days of soreness to years of rehabilitation–and worse.

      Something else one could respond with when someone talks about how public transportation is “unsafe.” :o)

      1. Jamie*

        I would agree that an accident with injuries in a bus is far less likely, most vehicle collisions don’t involve major (or for many – even any) injuries.

        And in some neighborhoods being out in public will increase your likelihood of being a victim of crime.

        It’s impossible to parse out which is worse. I’d rather have my purse stolen than to have significant injuries in a crash…but I’d rather have crash injuries than to be a victim of a violent assault.

        Too many variables so it really just comes down to what scares each of us the most. I’m more scared of crime than accidents – I know other people who are absolutely more afraid of driving than crime. We all tend to shy away from that which viscerally scares us the most.

  47. Anty*

    Do you work in the suburbs? I could see how people who live and work in the suburbs might be use to getting into their cars to get around as oppose to city life.

  48. Contessa*

    I got that response the first time I ever went somewhere for work. I live near/work in a major city that has a great public transit system. My monthly commuter train pass comes with the ability to ride all buses and subways for free, so when it came time to travel to another location, I just hopped on a bus to get there, on the theory that the travel would be free (which is obviously cheaper than a cab) and my client would be happy I saved them money. When I got back to the office, one of the secretaries from another department came into my office, closed the door, and gave me a whole lecture about how attorneys don’t take buses, and they aren’t safe (buses, not attorneys). Apparently in her department, it is a-ok to run up cab bills for clients. I was fairly horrified by the whole exchange, as I have taken public transit for years in various cities. I do drive, but absolutely not in the city, and not when the train, bus, or subway is RIGHT THERE and I’ve already paid for it.

    1. Ruffingit*

      That is absurd. I practiced law for a few years and had I been able to take public transit to court appearances or any other work-related function, I absolutely would have. I know lawyers who think the way the secretary you spoke of does though. I personally know someone who went out and bought a Lexus because “that’s what lawyers drive.” UH…OK. Whatever. Personally, I see no need to stick a client with a cab tab when there’s perfectly acceptable free transportation available.

  49. mollsbot*

    Just jumping in to say I also can’t get my coworkers to hush up about bus riding AND that I don’t have central air.

    Everyone I work with that brings up these concerns lives in white suburbia. I have to tell people over and over that my commute is less stressful than theirs, and yes, I am able to sleep in the heat!

  50. Tiff*

    Well, if I could I’d certainly ride the bus or train to work. C’mon Purple line, c’mon…..

  51. Brton3*

    I’ve gotten similar reactions from people because I exclusively use my bike to get around. It is SUCH a sticking point for some folks!

  52. therufs*

    “I’ve actually never had a problem with creepers on the bus, but it IS really creepy when, COUGH, my coworkers keep trying to talk me into accepting rides home from them, COUGH.”

  53. Sun and Work*

    I’m an advent bus rider too. I have had this same problem too at several jobs in the past. People just can’t believe that people can take the bus to work or why they would want to. Its easy, its better for the environment and its cheaper!!

  54. Colleen*

    I work at a public transit agency in the Pacific Northwest, so if you worked over here, you would be highly praised! I think this may have a lot to do with where you live; over here, taking the bus is considered a smart way to commute.

    1. Colleen*

      Of course, it may also make a difference that the greater Seattle area is over 70% white. So race doesn’t matter so much when riding the bus; we’re more interested that you bathe regularly and therefore smell OK.

  55. Nettah*

    I have to say this is a very strange thing to read for a European. There is obviously a problem with American society – snobbery, latent racism and lack of imagination. For us, it’s quite normal to travel by public transport. Of course, many people drive but it’s not an issue either way. Nobody cares. Maybe you all need to question how much cars have taken over your way of thinking and is it very helpful?

  56. Jenny*

    I’m sorry to bring up an old topic but I was fired from my job last week because the public transportation system here is on strike. I have never had a liscence and I have a medical issue that shows itself when I try to drive. My big worry right now is even if the strike ends will an employer actually hire someone who uses public transport now.

  57. Chiles Freidman*

    I just came back from Europe and used public transport, nothing else – no cars.
    I also take the train here in Denver to work and on the weekends use my scooter or Smart car when needed. The main reason for posting this is that I agree that there are bad assumptions that many people in the US make about public transport.
    I think the root assumption is that it is for poor people. Yet over and over I hear from people I work with how bad the traffic is, blah, blah, blah. Yet I rarely have problems. When I do drive or ride my scooter, I see in general people seem to have a disrespect for others so I don’t like the experience of driving (but still love my scooter. I take public transport to work. IT IS ALWAYS ONTIME, for one thing. The train system here in Denver is great. Well today I was running a couple minutes late to walk to the train station. There were a bunch of managers and coworkers talking around my cubicle. When one of the superiors noticed I was in a hurry, she kept yelling at me RUN, RUN, RUN, RUN, RUN. She knows I take public transport.
    It was so weird. I think I have been putting it out there at work that I have a major hamstring injury. I can’t run. I have trouble walking. This was one experience I hope I can forget. It actually made me cry later.
    Back to my point, when I get to work taking public transport I am relaxed and not angry at drivers and congestion. With public transport, I truly wish US were more like Europe. I so enjoyed my trip to Spain last couple weeks and took the regional trains, buses, and metro trains. It was awesome even when we went the wrong way.

  58. Giselle*

    In Sacramento. Everyone lives in the suburb so all the lightrail riders drop their cars and ride the lightrail to get to work. Its packed during commute hours. We have capital, workers and students riding our bus line plus the drug addicts. Buses are generally stupid here but the lightrail makes it easy for old and young to get to work. No one bats an eyelid except when you reach the suburb, then noses turn up and people give you nasty looks or ask if you need a “ride” wink. ;)

Comments are closed.