Well, this may sound like a bit of a rant but…
I flew into Seattle today and used public transportation (buses) to get to my destination in Everett. Maybe this is stereotypical, but my image of Seattle is of a fairly forward thinking US city that has been quick to embrace earth friendly concepts like public transport. I noticed the light rail system still under construction along side the freeway as we traveled north.
But here is what I really saw. Just as it was 25 years ago when I used to ride the bus to work from the Freemont district into downtown Seattle, buses are still clearly not embraced by the mainstream of society. I don’t want to appear to be profiling people, but it was so clearly obvious to me that the great majority of the folks riding on the buses were… how do I say it… maybe “fringe” is a good word. Very few (maybe none) of the passengers looked like folks who chose to leave the car at home and ride the bus because it makes more sense. Instead, they looked like people who for one reason or another, probably had no other option but to ride the bus if they wanted to get somewhere.
It is just such a huge contrast to what I am used to seeing in Tokyo on the trains and buses; which is nothing short of a very clear cross sectional representation of almost the entire society. Everybody including business men and women, school children, elderly, young people, rich, poor, Japanese, non-Japanese… you seem them all on the trains and buses.
On the other hand, riding the bus today was fun because of all the interesting folks I saw. In particular the 30ish women sitting right behind me caught my attention. Not sure if it was the bright blue hair or the countless facial piercings… or maybe it was the baseball bat I saw in her hand as she stood up and got off the bus!