Monday, May 30, 2011

My Bus, Vaivase-Uta

May 24, 2011

For me, riding public transportation, regardless of where, gives a better pulse of local people than any other single thing. In Samoa, the buses are privately owned and most have wooden carriages, continually refurbished over the years as they are refastened onto a Toyota diesel truck chassis. Switching from left to right-hand drive creates little problem, as a new entrance was cut out and reconstructed on the opposite side. It is this type of ingenuity, which characterizes living in a place like Samoa.

When I lived on Savaii, the bus schedules were synchronized to the comings and goings of the ferry. Although fewer in number, village people just didn’t use them as often, preferring to stay in their own locale.

Here in Apia and on the island of Upolu the number of buses is considerably greater as well as the percentage of people using them, especially commuting in from distant villages to work in Apia. The bus schedules are synchronized to certain allotted time slots at the main bus station located at the fruit market. There must be hundreds of buses constantly arriving and departing from the 10-15 bus spaces. Distant buses leave their villages early in the morning, with the bus and driver waiting the rest of the day to take passenger back on the return trip. Local buses, like mine, make several trips a day on what you might call a schedule.

But here as anyplace else, why take the bus when you have money for a car or taxi? Heaven forbid you walk. The result is ever increasing traffic jams. These new urban travelers miss sitting on the edge of your seat next to a fat Samoan, or people sitting on each other’s laps, as the “Bus Music” blasts away and the driver smokes away.

One of my buses, the one with blue hood and red windscreen, lined up at Apia market station My most colorful bus with mini-lights blinking both inside and outside to the beat of the music

Waiting for the red roof bus on a rainy morning

1 comment:

Teri said...

I especially enjoy these posts that give a glimpse into your everyday life in Samoa. Looking at the colorful buses with the curved roofs, you really can't tell they are made of wood.