Bill, the bus driver, thinks about the passengers he once had on this route. College students. Retirees. Commuters. They were easier to deal with than today’s passengers. He seldom needed to deny service. He never needed the police. He never needed a paramedic to revive someone who’d OD’ed.
What the hell happened to the good passengers? he wonders.
Well, he knows what happened. Public transportation has never been strong in his state. This transit agency has been going down hill for years, and service is getting so bad no one wants to ride the bus if they can help it. Then, the city itself is rapidly deteriorating.
He stops to pick up Ellen. She’s an older woman, who is one of the last good passengers he sees most days. As she pays, she says: “This may be my last day riding! I didn’t think I’d ever be able to have a car again—but a neighbor is giving me a great deal on her old Toyota!
“Congratulations! But I’ll miss you!”
She sits down. A moment later, she calls out. “There’s a problem in back!”
Bill glances back and sees a man standing in the aisle, urinating into an orange juice bottle. Bill pulls over and yells to the man to leave the bus. As Bill waits for the man to comply, he thinks back to just ten years before, when the worst thing he had to deal with on this route was an obnoxious teenager.