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Lost in Transportation 

Voice of the City


Since I've moved from France to Halifax, I’ve been using public transportation more often. I could say I do it because it’s good for the environment, or because I like the exercise, but then I’d be lying. I use public transportation because it’s very expensive to own a car, and when you live in a city like Halifax, it’s easy to get around by bus. Of course, some winter mornings I wish I could jump in a car waiting for me at my door and drive to work with my bum slowly roasting on the heated seat. But then I would be missing a lot of fun things. Well, things anyway...

First of all, I would miss my morning walks on the icy sidewalks. When else do I get to walk like a penguin, or use my shoes for skates to get to the bus terminal? The school kids would probably miss making fun of me.

Another advantage of taking the bus is that it’s a very good way to get to know the city, at least for me. I have a bad sense of direction, a VERY bad sense of direction. So the bus is a good way for me to go from point A to point B without getting lost in the middle. Even though, and this is hypothetical of course, someone with a bad sense of direction could get on the right numbered bus, but the wrong direction. That’s why I like taking the ferry between Halifax and Dartmouth: it’s impossible, even for me, to get lost. Also, it's only a 10-minute ride and I get to say that I have to take a boat across the Atlantic to go home.

I'm not saying Halifax Transit can't be improved; the bus is not always heaven on wheels. Sometimes it is late, or it doesn't show up at all; your fellow commuters can be grumpy, or smell like they need a shower; you might get stuck in traffic, and even if thanks to connections you can go almost everywhere, it can sometimes take you a loooong time.

However, I’ve used public transportation in different countries and cities and we really don't have it too bad here. The bus drivers in Halifax are some of the friendliest ones I've encountered, and that counts for a lot.

But really, what I enjoy the most about public transportation is the public part. People watching is one of my favourite things to do. Even if you’ve only taken the bus once in your life, you know that you get to see a lot of different people on the bus: daily commuters in suits, students, families, sad people, funny people, people who avoid eye contact at all cost, crazy people... So next time you are on a bus keep your eyes open. You will get a different view of the city, you'll see the people who make Halifax the great city it is, and you might see a Frenchman who keeps looking around and who still sometimes can’t believe he lives in Canada.

***Originally from France, Souhaël Bouallagui currently lives in Dartmouth and works as a university administrator in Halifax. He enjoys running, reading, exploring Nova Scotia and talking to strangers on the bus.***

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Vol 26, No 28
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