Have you ever boarded a bus, took one look at the driver
sitting on the other side of that yellow line that boldly says “Do Not Cross
Yellow Line” and thought to yourself, “I wonder why?”
Ever wonder why certain bus drivers seem agitated, rude or downright mean when
passengers cross that hallowed yellow line while others simply smile and make
no big deal about it?
Do you wonder about how many of society’s boundaries – figurative yellow lines
– you and your fellow passengers may come in contact with, cross or adhere to
during a simple bus ride or the course of a normal day?
Better yet, have you ever considered what you could learn about society just by
taking a bus ride and observing what happens when rules and regulations are
applied to small slices of life?
If so, you’ll definitely want to get on board and attend one of the most
interesting topics to be presented at a College of the Canyons Scholarly
By the way, no fares are required for this ride (admission is free!).
Featuring original research and first-hand accounts integrated with a
collection of familiar bus-themed songs and movie clips, original photos and
videos and a live performance element, the scholarly presentation ‘Busology:
Standing Behind the Yellow Line’will take place 7 p.m. Wednesday,
April 29, on the main stage of the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center at
College of the Canyons.
Busology, of course, is a made-up word created for marketing purposes but
which, loosely broken down into its word roots means – a study related to
“Everyone has a favorite bus related story, experience or anecdote of their
own,” said College of the Canyons sociology professor, and presenter Pamela
Williams-Paez, who conducted the research for this presentation over a
two-and-a-half year period in Seattle.
“So this presentation is definitely something the audience will be able to
relate to as we look at some of the theoretical aspects in which sociology can
take something as simple as a bus ride and use it to show us the connections
between our daily lives and much larger social realities.”
Over the course of her research — which included countless hours riding buses
at all hours of the day and night, during all seasons and on all routes of
service, more than 30 driver interviews, countless hours of onboard observation
and a two-and-half week new driver training course — Williams-Paez attempted to
baptize herself into the ‘bus driver culture’ in order to better understand the
occupation and tie it to its larger sociological context.
What she found, and what audience members will learn, is that bus driving is an
occupation that places its members on the front lines of a wide variety of
social issues and problems, which must be confronted, dealt with or
incorporated into the driver’s daily routine.
“Most of the public thinks ‘oh this is a snap job, all you have to do is open
the door and collect fare, how easy,’” said Williams-Paez, “but in fact it’s
probably one of the most stressful occupations out there next to law
enforcement. And part of that stress comes from dealing with social issues that
drivers really don’t have any control over.”
Explaining that variables such as a transit service area’s ridership
demographic, economic climate, homeless population, crime rate and potential
for on-board instances of violence and assault are all issues a driver must
take into account, Williams-Paez points to an ongoing tension between drivers
and riders that helps explain why drivers may develop a reputation for seeming
angry, grumpy and unhelpful behind the wheel.
“Under these conditions it’s impossible for them to keep all the rules, so they
look for shortcuts,” Williams-Paez said, “and one shortcut is to classify their
ridership, sort of size them up psychologically, to determine ‘ok this is
probably a good passenger, this is probably a less favorable one that I
definitely want to stay behind that yellow line.’”
Designed to both inform and entertain, Williams-Paez is confident that audience
members will leave the ‘Busology’ presentation with a greater understanding of
‘bus culture,’ a deeper appreciation for the value of sociological study and a
new context to place their favorite bus-related stories, memories, jokes and
“I’m trying to make this presentation something really fun for people to be a
part of,” said Williams-Paez, “but I’m also trying to give the community an
empathetic view of the world drivers work in, what they are up against and what
that can tell us about our society.”
The Scholarly Presentation is sponsored by the College of the Canyons
Foundation and the reception following the event is hosted by the Santa Clarita
Community College District Board of Trustees.