Tuesday, March 25, 2014


The #40 bus runs down North Broadway, from Riverview Transfer center to Catalan Loop.

I ride it from Riverview, and get off at either Saint Louis (to walk over the bridge to Old North) or downtown to get another bus or the Metrolink.

I see a lot on that bus.  At night and on weekends I am usually one of only two or three white people.  But during the day, in the early afternoon, a lot of white men board.

They mostly just got out of jail, and are probably staying in shelters, or maybe even homeless. They get off work at the dusthouse (or workhouse, I guess it is called now), and go to Gregg's bar or straight to a shelter.

I have no problem with these men, but I don't like the things they bring with them: obvious, visible lice on some of the men, and bed bugs on the bus itself. 

"Bed bug" is misleading.  The bugs aren't confined to beds.  They use sensors that detect body heat and pheromones to find their prey (mammals).  In houses, they wait until you are motionless and warm, usually while you are sleeping, to feed on you.  Hence the name "bed bug", although they are more likely to nest in the bed frame, other nearby furniture, or the wall (especially near electrical outlets).

In cool temperatures (below 60F) they hibernate, and can do so for many months.  The only thing that can kill them is exposure to very high temperatures, or very low temperatures, and even then the exposure has to last more than an hour.

Some people have had luck with 91 percent rubbing alcohol, but the hard thing about getting rid of them is that the tiny ones can be smaller than the tip of pencil.  So you have to saturate everything with alcohol.

They are mostly tiny and almost invisible to the eye.  The babies are actually clear, or translucent.  As they get older they turn brown, unless they have just fed.  Then they are red.

They can get as big as the tip of a pencil eraser.  When you see one that big, it is safe to assume that hundreds or thousands of the tiny ones are nearby.

I've seen a bed bug, one of the big ones, on the #40 for certain once.  I wish I'd saved it and photographed it.  There was one other time when I think I saw one, but it was on the wall, down below, in the row of double seats.

When I said "#40 the bed bug bus" to the Metro people at the Fare Increase Hearing, they became outraged that I would make such an insult!  Did I have proof? They have clean buses! Surely I was mistaken.

One of the Exec's bragged that on his watch all the cockroaches on public transit had been exterminated.  (Well, you still see those sometimes, too, but thankfully not too often.)

I explained to him how difficult they were to kill and he said he was going to look into it.  I hope they do.

But what I really wish is that the people that make all the decisions about the buses actually rode them.
And not just during the day on weekdays, but at different times of the day or night, and on the most travelled lines, which are mainly in low income areas.

 Metro, get to know your buses and your riders!

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