How to avoid a CATAstrophe


Listen up, all you mass transit miscreants. I’m sick and tired of dealing with your offenses.

I bought my $50 bus pass to enjoy the benefits of public transportation, not to deal with the smelly hoards of mouth-breathers that so often haunt my morning commute.

So, for the common good of bus-goers everywhere, I have drafted a simple guide to common courtesy that should be implemented whenever the bottom of a passenger’s grimy shoe touches the equally grimy surface of CATA bus floors.

Don’t pull the cord 13 times if it’s already been pulled. One universal feature of the CATA buses are the yellow stop cords that run along either side of the interior bus wall. These cords, when pulled, signal the bus driver that a passenger has requested to get off at the next stop. I’m not sure how many passengers actually know this, but once someone has pulled the cord, you don’t need to pull it again.

Many a time I’ve been riding the bus and have witnessed a distressed passenger yanking on that cord as if they were trying to use it as a pull-up bar, awaiting the oh-so-satisfying baritone voice to come on the speakers and announce, “Stop requested.”

Stop pulling the freakin’ cord. The bus will stop. You will get to HopCat on time to meet your friends. Don’t you worry.

Personal hygiene: once considered a cultural norm, now a commodity on urban transportation. I didn’t know “rotting garbage” came in so many variations until I became a frequent rider of CATA buses. But unlike Yankee Candle scents, each new body odor has proven to be slightly more repugnant than the last.

It’s one thing if you’re down on your luck and catching a ride, but students should take the time to shower before making the journey to class.

Not smelling bad seems simple enough, but for students, washing away their own offensive body odor seems to be considered a sin.

As much as some riders enjoy simmering in their own juices, it really puts a damper on the whole bus-riding atmosphere.

There is a beautiful product for sale in most convenience stores that could solve this problem: deodorant. For me, a daily ritual called “bathing” usually does the trick.

I sure hope the trend of showering daily catches on soon, because I’m not sure how much more my nostrils can take.

Don’t listen to Gucci Mane with your Beats By Dre headphones on full blast. I can hear it, too. Nothing against Gucci Mane, I’ve just never been that big of a fan. Everyone has a right to have their own taste in music, just turn it down so I don’t have to suffer through it.

Know which door to use. I understand that doors are confusing contraptions, but for the sake of my sanity, I must explain the differences between the back door and the boarding door on the CATA buses. If you’re sitting in the back or anywhere near the back, go out the back door. Don’t clog up traffic by running to the front to exit as other passengers are trying to get on.

Respect the personal space of others, but be willing to give up your personal space if need be. If the bus is full and the aisles are lined with standing patrons, try and move to stand in the back to allow for other passengers boarding the bus. If a pregnant woman, elderly person or a person with small children gets on the bus, give them priority for seating.

Holding on for dear life when the bus makes sudden stops and jolts is already difficult without adding in old age or a baby. Not only are you making their day easier, but it’s common courtesy.

In fact, if other seats in the back are open, sit there. Leave the seats in the front for the people who need them most. Additionally, leave the surrounding seats open for other people — don’t clutter them up with backpacks or personal belongings. Put those on your lap.

Lastly, remember to thank the bus driver. These blue-shirted heroes cart our butts around at all hours of the day and night. They help students get to classes on time, and they do their job the best they can. They deal with rude passengers on a daily basis — Don’t make them deal with another one.

In general, use common sense when riding the bus. It’s not rocket science. Follow the rules, don’t be a pain and maybe one day utilizing public transportation can be something we actually enjoy.

Olivia Dimmer is a State News staff reporter. Reach her at

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