The Effect of COVID Regulations on the Bus and on Mom-and-Pop Places in Honolulu

Since 1974, I have been happily riding the bus, but, unfortunately, in 2021, to take the bus borders on the onerous, and to frequent a mom-and-pop establishment is just as onerous: let me tell you why.

While on the air-conditioned buses in Honolulu, I get cold, so I bring extra clothes to stay warm: I wrap a scarf around my head. I wear a sweater and a windbreaker. It is not that me being cold is such a big deal. But if I do not bring and wear adequate clothing, I will want to urinate while I am on the bus, because seconds prior, I stand and wait at the bus stop for the bus while I feel the fresh breezes and balmy weather. And then I get on this sealed, climate-controlled bus with a motor humming.

Therefore, since there are very few pedestrian accessible public toilets in Honolulu, extra clothing is certainly mandatory even while on the bus for five minutes.

To add to the above nuisance, I miss buses frequently in rural areas because I was not with 100 feet of the bus stop sign.

I know bus drivers have to abide by the bus’s regulations, and the newest regulation since September 2020. Twice, two separate bus drivers tell me to stand behind the red line, which puts me more than six feet away from the driver—it is more like I am eight feet away from the bus driver. 

Because the red line is pasted onto the floor where the wheel of the bus ends—a convenient location for the line, but the line requires passengers to stand too far away from the bus driver. And we both have face masks on. So it is not a surprise that I ask the bus driver a question, and the bus driver asks, “What did you say?”

So I stand behind the red line, and I want to safely get off at the front of the bus. And because some bus drivers, depending on the route, need to make some time frames, they wait for me anxiously to get off the bus, while I also feel the pressure to stand behind the red line and then rush to get off the front of the bus.

Talk about a lose/lose situation!

Add to the above, some bus drivers are grumpy and for a good reason, especially those that do the nighttime windward side to Honolulu routes and back—like the newly numbered routes 60, 65, and 66. If a passenger is onerous on the bus, the bus drivers are the first layer of ambassadorship for the Honolulu bus and Honolulu itself. Poor bus drivers!

After I get off the bus, there are few places to sit, eat, and use the bathroom. Without an automobile or a nearby private accommodation, there is nowhere comfortable to wait for things or there are few mom-and-pop places to eat. Therefore, bring water. Bring toilet paper if you need to urinate outside—which I did on three separate occasions behind bushes.  Bring a hat, sunscreen, footwear for soggy weather, snacks, perhaps reading material because you must wait for a long time, and likely, in a long line for the places that are open.

Back on the bus: one time, at the front of the bus, three separate vagrants on the bus competed for attention. Some vagrants do not have shirts on. Others have not bathed for days. Some flash an invalid bus pass. Some bring on items in trash bags. Some talk to themselves loudly.  One punch the air as if he is punching someone. As if one vagrant on the bus was not enough!

As some vagrant looking people stink, when one sat a few rows in front of me on the bus, I moved to another seat because I can smell the vagrant, even when I have on a face mask.

Furthermore, in contrast to the vagrant stink and vagrant culture which come close to unsanitary conditions or are unsanitary altogether, the non-homeless people in Honolulu are fearful of germs, compared to Mexico or Central America or rural Arizona, where I just recently traveled to as well.

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