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Get On The Bus
Jeremy Faludi, 23 Jun 06

No, it's not Ken Kesey and his merry pranksters, it's an art exhibit at City|Space in San Francisco, running until July 2, which is all about buses.

City|Space describes the exhibit as "a reconsideration of the experience, culture, and meaning of our nation's least-loved transit mode." Indeed, buses do not have the class of light rail or trolleys, though they can be nice, and in many North American cities they are the only public transportation around. Transit systems like buses are crucial to a sustainable future, as we wrote recently, and they can sometimes build community through the phenomenon of the familiar stranger, giving you more exposure to the neighborhood and city you live in, rather than being alone during your journey--popping out of social context in your driveway and popping back into social context at your destination. Besides creating more interactions with local strangers, buses and bus stops can also be social spaces in which to randomly encounter friends and acquaintances, just like any form of mass transit.

Get On The Bus aims to shine some softer light on the bus with artworks that include "fine art, documentary photography, lighthearted urban interventions, and a range of film and video projects", as well as short stories which will be anthologized into a booklet "Get on the Bus: Short and True Tales of Bus Travel", distributed on buses and in bus stops around San Francisco. Besides the show's opening night party last week, there is a mini film festival "starring the bus" tonight, and on the 27th they'll have a panel discussion about the future of the bus.

The show's opening had a variety of live music and four actual buses: busycle (a fifteen-person human-powered bus), a tricked-out party bus that runs on vegetable oil, AC Transit's new fuel cell hybrid bus, and a vintage MUNI bus. One of the attendees, San Francisco designer Max Chen, said the quality of the art was good and that the content was refreshing, especially because "The bus has the reputation for being and kind of is the most ghetto mass transit system. It could use some bolstering and PR." Though he did note that "Ironically, most of the people I knew at the exhibit had bicycled there."

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