Once upon a time, I lived in a remote village in northern Thailand. It was about 18 kilometers outside of the provincial capital, which was, itself, a sleepy but charming town which drew visitors to its fields of sunflowers every October.
The village I lived in was out a well paved road past rice paddies and an old rope suspension bridge currently only used by thrill-seeking teenagers. Next to the road out to the village where I lived, there was a steep mountain and, if you looked closely, you could see some rough steps hewn into the side leading a bright orange flag which marked a small cave where a hermit lived.
I am not making this up and this is not really a story.
I am merely pointing out the cave to say this: this village where I lived was remote. This village was so remote that in order to get there you have to pass a hermit’s cave wherein lives a man whose entire life is centered around not coming into contact with any other human beings. The village where I lived was “past the hermit cave” remote.
And yet, I still managed to, fairly easily, get to and from this village to the provincial capital where I could get on a plane to a city and eventually wind up back home on the opposite side of the earth.
And how did I transport myself to and from this village and the provincial capital? Some of the time I hitched a ride with friends or rented a motorbike. But some of the time I did it the old fashioned way: I took a bus.
That’s right. A bus. It didn’t look the way that you might think of a bus if you grew up in the western world, but that’s what it was. At a designated time, it passed by certain predetermined places and you could climb aboard and pay a fee and sit next to other commuters and eventually arrive at another stop where you could get off.
So here’s the thing. The next time you are lamenting that your local bus service doesn’t go where you want it to go or that you can’t ride it because it doesn’t come to your neighborhood or doesn’t take you the places you want to go, here’s what you do: you ask. Ask the bus company or the transit division in your local municipality (in my case it would me either/ both WMATA or Ride-on to please expand their bus service to serve where you live.
And when you do, remember the bus that I was able to ride to a “pass the hermit cave” remote village and do not take “no” for an answer (unless you are asking them to go past two or more hermit caves in which case, I’ve got nothing).
Everyone, and I mean everyone, deserves access to public transportation.