Marie’s Bus Ride Home

For context, understand that the #46 bus from Valdemarsvik to Söderköping to Norrköping is pleasant and immaculate. It is almost always what the US audience would recognize as a double-decker tour bus, just without the bathroom. But high-back padded seats do recline, and there are lights and fans above each seat with individual controls.

The 46 is also an express bus with only a few stops. We live in Valdemarsvik. I currently attend Swedish class in Söderköping and need to be in Norrköping on Friday. Today Marie started a four week business program in Norrköping.

So after Marie’s first day of her one-month training program, she walks back to the central bus station – resecentrum — in Norrköping. She just misses the “normal” 46 and has to wait 20 minutes for the next 46 bus. But there was a big surprise to come.

The first hint that this would be an experience was the way bus looked. According to Marie, it looked as if it was if was purchased as surplus from the Chicago Transit Authority. That, and it took the driver some time to figure out how to open the doors. The bus had clear sign of damage on the side where it had hit one or more things.

And then there was the sticker on the bus informing riders that the bus was equipped with a breathalyzer locking system, which could only have been intended for driver use. Enough to give you pause.

Marie described the driving as erratic and she feared a bit for her safety when in traffic, entering round-a-bouts, of which there are many, and stopping or starting. And I guess most anything in between.

Like the modern and less damaged buses we normally use, this had a front and back door for passengers to enter and exit. All fees are handled by either a prepaid bus debit card or a flat-rate monthly card. There are electronic card readers at both doors. When there are more than a few riders getting onto the bus, this doubles the speed with which the bus is loaded. It is something I see and often do here, every time I ride the bus.

This bus driver had other notions. At two or more stops, where people where filing onto the bus via the front and back door, the driver got up and yelled to the people coming in the backdoor that they could not do that. They had to get out and walk up to the front door to re-enter the bus. Well, if they had just scanned their card, the wireless communication system, or the central computers, barfed at the idea of letting them be so immediately rescanned.

When a passenger asked “Why is there a card reader at the back door, if passengers cannot enter there?” The driver lost it and yelled, “I don’t make the rules. You’ll have to ask my boss!”

And there was the final stop, where the bus driver slightly passed the stop and slammed on the breaks.

It did not happen, but the image springs to mind from the movie the “Pacifier”. A buff and tough Navy Seal taking care of a family takes over drivers’ training for the oldest daughter. It does not go well at first. When the oldest daughter is tasked with driving the family to school in the morning, upon arrival, the middle daughter bolts from the minivan. She lands on her knees and kisses the ground, and exclaims something like — “Land! Thank God! Land!”