Read, Write, Run, Roam

She’s got a ticket to ride…and she don’t care

This golden ticket gets you a free bus ride!

This week, I faced a new challenge: riding the bus to meet another RHOB for coffee. While I could have taken a taxi (they are cheap and plentiful here), I thought of you, dedicated readers, and knew this was not an opportunity I could pass up. Plus, I had heard that the bus system was simple to figure out.

I’ll spare you some suspense: the bus system is simple. It was getting to the bus stop that presented a challenge. Even with a map, I had trouble finding it. Luckily, my Serbian has improved enough to get directions. Meaning I grunt questions like a cave man–“Where bus 48?”–and people point in the direction I just came from.

The only thing I was warned about was punching my bus ticket. You must punch it in the machine, I was told, or you can get pulled off the bus and whoknowswhat will happen. I was told that people used to ride for free all the time but that lately people were getting pulled off left and right. Fine by me, I said. I don’t want to cheat the bus system out of the 40-cent ride I’m taking.

I get on the bus and see a blue box by the post. I insert my ticket. Nothing happens. Hmm. I see another box, and put that in. I realize that these boxes might actually be ashtrays. They might as well be ashtrays, because nothing happens when I try to insert my ticket.

Okay, no problem, I’ll just see what other people do when they get on the bus. What do they do? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. No one is punching a ticket. I’m standing there clutching my ticket as if to prove that I really, really want it cancelled, and no one could care less. Including the bus driver. On both bus rides.

You’d think that a “free” bus system would be terrible. But it’s actually quite good. Busses arrive regularly and are speedy due to dedicated bus lanes. Imagine what would happen if they actually collected the fares! We’d have golden chariots taking us all over town.

But for now, here’s a picture of my un-cancelled bus ticket. If nothing else, it makes a nice souvenir.


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