bus vs. subway

i've always found bus travel to be somewhat of a mystery. when you set foot on a bus, you never know what's going to happen. the subway seems so much more predictable. i've lived in three major cities with public transportation and i've always been able to figure out the subway without issues. but the bus, well, that's another story.

1. freshman year. philadelphia. i decide to go downtown with my hallmates, but upon reaching the subway station, we find out it isn't running. (reliable septa for you) we are instructed to get on the bus. however, we get on a bus headed into west philadelphia instead of downtown philadelphia. when we get off around 65th and market, we are the only white people to be seen and a bunch of kids start yelling, "hey crackers. whatcha doing here?"

2. junior year. buenos aires, argentina. this was my scariest bus experience. the train wasn't running so i had to take the bus to school. i got on the bus that my host family told be about, but they neglected to tell me that there were multiple destinations for the same numbered bus. they didn't tell me you had to ASK where it was going before you got on. so i got on. i paid my fare. and after 30 minutes, i had NO idea where we were. the bus driver started yelling at me that i hadn't paid enough and i needed to pay more. but i was out of coins, which was all they took. so he made me get off, in the middle of nowhere. i was in a suburban neighborhood, didn't have a cell phone, and had absolutely no idea where i was. i started walking. finally i saw two men on the side of the road. i thought to myself, "these men are either going to assault me or help me." i had no other options, so i took a deep breath, said a quick prayer, and approached them. they were really nice, gave me change for my bills, and pointed me to the right bus. and yes, that all happened in spanish.

3. last year. new york city. this is pretty uneventful. but i got on a bus only to find out that it only takes change...no metrocards, no dollar bills. the man was friendly and let us ride for free, but told us next time we had to pay.

it seems as though buses should be easier than the subway. i mean, you're above ground. you can see where you are. but you never know when the bus will stop. you can be on it, close to where you need to be, and all of a sudden the bus gets on the highway and you're really far away. and when you get off the bus, it isn't that easy to just hop on one going the other direction to get back.

so why are buses on my mind? well, i took the bus in seattle yesterday. i had to return my rental car downtown and make it back to my temporary apartment. i didn't have any disasters. but give me underground travel before the bus any day.