The YAMU Guide To Bus Travel.

You may have often stood by the road transfixed as these tremendous beasts shudder and stutter and hurtle along, emitting a relentless warning call to ward off lesser beasts. No they aren’t a herd of wayward stampeding elephants, they are the notorious CTB (Ceylon Transport Board) buses.

Fortunately for passengers, the CTB bus is a beast that can be tamed. Here’s how:

  1. Wear shoes instead of slippers or sandals – although it is too hot to wear shoes, most bus conductors have no qualms whatsoever about trampling your feet repeatedly to get from point A to B.
  2. Work out – You will need considerable upper body strength when your bus driver inevitably spots a rival bus and starts speeding at escape velocity to overtake him, and when he brakes just in time to avoid a 12 car pile up, you’d best hold onto whatever you can for dear life. So work out… or wear a helmet unless you fancy ending up in a persistent vegetative state.
  3. Keep change in hand – This will make your life much easier since it is difficult to forage around for change whilst holding on for dear life (See Note 2 above)
  4. Do not step on/off the bus until the driver has come to a definite halt,unless you get your thrills from risking life and limb for no good reason.
  5. Wear a pair of headphones (not necessarily connected to a mp3 device) – there is a worrying trend of buses decked out with multiple subwoofers worthy of Dr Dre’s recording studio. If you have the misfortune of traveling on such a bus, they will almost certainly play Sinhala pop or shrill bollywood music at a deafening volume. I just don’t think the human eardrum can withstand such an onslaught. Tip : Sometimes you might have a nice bus conductor and if you ask him politely he will lower the volume.
  6. Let go of any notion of ‘personal space’ because everyone else on the bus has. The passengers are not to blame,often the bus driver will not take off unless the vehicle is teetering towards one side from the sheer weight of passenger overload. If you insist on this quasi-right of personal space, you will only become angrier and upset during the journey when that space ceases to exist.
  7. Don’t be jerk – If you are seated and a standing passenger is carrying a heavy bag or their laptop, offer to hold on to it.
  8. Don’t openly gawk at The Superhumans (ie. females). These are a superior species, often seen simultaneously carrying children, handbags and groceries in their arms without breaking a sweat.
  9. Make your way to the exit well before you arrive at your destination, especially if the bus is crowded because the driver will not stop long enough for you to wriggle through to the exit.
  10. Now, The Upside

    Travelling by bus is extremely cheap – from Kohuwela Junction to Town Hall it takes just Rs. 25 vs around Rs. 500 in a metered tuk tuk.

    It may be the fastest way to get to your destinations – even the most wretched driver of (insert obnoxious vehicle model here) will obediently veer aside to give way to a speeding bus.

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