Public transit needs improvement

Maryann Kopp

The public transit system in Bakersfield is a joke, and whether it’s a good or bad joke is difficult to say.
Here are some of the more popular options that people without a car have in this wondrous city: bum a ride, walk, ride a bike, take a cab, or get on the GET bus.
I can say from personal experience that basically all of the above suck, especially when you’re dealing with heat that gets over 100 degrees, and you have to Houdini yourself from one end of town to the other.
Sometimes there’s no one to bum a ride from. Sometimes the distance is too great to even sensibly consider walking or biking. Sometimes you don’t have the money to pay for a cab. But, “lucky” us, (I am using the term very loosely) there is always the GET bus.
There is nothing like having to sit near an old man smelling like sweaty, rusted metal, who seemingly doesn’t believe in deodorants or showers, excreting his stench all over you.
If there aren’t enough available seats, he practically has to sit on top of you.
And talk about charming drivers. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been yelled at or have had to listen to someone else get yelled at because of something completely stupid.
They all do things differently and many expect you to just magically know what does or doesn’t set them off.
But I guess catering to all of Bakersfield’s finest can do that to a person.
In roughly six months I have had a crazy bum lady sit next to me, put her arm around me, and talk about how you can’t trust soap because “they put the sands of Kilimanjaro in it,” and another crazy ex-drug addict on her way to rehab try to warm herself by cuddling up to me because the bus was “so cold.”
I’ve endured entire rides across town with people, who apparently have never been told that staring is considered rude, looking at me like I suddenly grew a second head.
I have smelled more disgusting human smells than I can even articulate or care to remember.
I have also had plenty of remarks from passengers as well as drivers that made it very hard for me to not punch the commenting party, and I don’t consider myself to be a violent person.
Those are just a few of the “highlights,” and all of that for just 90 cents a ride! It’s like going on a date with “Crazy” no matter which bus you take or when you take it.
I know I can’t be the only person this stuff happens to, either.
And this is actually the best option the city provides us with when others aren’t plausible.
But you have to get to work or school or the grocery store somehow. And Bakersfield officials either don’t notice that need or don’t care, because the best they’ve offered with the cost of living going through the roof is, naturally, more GET buses with expanded schedules.
I guess the city is too busy doing completely necessary things like sprucing downtown up some more to make a must-have “Arts District” more artsy.
With important stuff like making the ground look prettier in certain areas, who has the time to be concerned about how the citizens of Bakersfield get around? At least we’ll all have a glorious, multi-colored surface to walk or bike on in certain areas!
I know that more forms of public transportation wouldn’t solve the above-mentioned problems entirely (a bar of soap and some common courtesy would go pretty far, though), but at least we would have more options available to us should we need to get somewhere without a car. Imagine that!