Race, Class, and the Stigma of Riding the Bus in America

By Amanda Hess
Published: July 10, 2012
theatlanticcities.com

In 2009, Jacqueline Carr’s public transit experience was limited to bus lines of the “party” variety. Then, Carr lost her talent agency gig, sold her Jetta, and charted out a route to her new job—and yoga class—on the Los Angeles city bus system.

Carr deemed this lifestyle shift so significant that she launched a blog, Snob on a Bus, to detail her experiences. When it comes to L.A. bus riders, Carr—a 20-something white woman—is a unicorn. In Los Angeles, 92 percent of bus riders are people of color. Their annual median household income is $12,000. On her blog, Carr cataloged her “WTF moments” with the bus system’s regular ridership. She critiqued the upholstery. She name-dropped her essential travel accessories—Lululemon, Blackberry, Uggs. She sported jeggings. After one late-night drunken ride, she praised a bus driver who razzed she and her friends as “a bunch of idiots.”

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