Tane Danger, co-founder of the Theater of Public Policy, totally gets why people might be a little bit nervous about taking the bus.
The first time the Minneapolis improv comedian tried to take one in the Twin Cities, he sat and looked expectantly out the window, stop after stop, thinking if he just waited long enough, it would take him where he was supposed to go. His faith deserted him when he was the last remaining passenger, and the bus driver put on the brake, looked over his shoulder, and said, “This is the end of the line.”
Danger had not intended to ride all the way to... wherever he was in St. Louis Park. Now there was nothing to do but to ride the bus back down the line and start over… after the driver’s 15-minute coffee break, during which he left Danger alone on the bus like a lost child.
Danger is now a regular bus passenger, but he remembers those early days. That’s what inspired him to create a new web series in partnership with Metro Transit with the charmingly forthright title: Hey! Where Does This Bus Go?
Danger, bundled up for the weather, microphone in hand, rides a single Metro Transit bus from one end of the line to the other, interviewing passengers and pointing out landmarks along the way. He’s already filmed two episodes -- a 9 a.m. commute on the No. 23, and downtown rush hour on the No. 6.
He’s spoken to teachers, drivers, regulars, and a dude just trying to make a run to a liquor store in Richfield -- all the while asking them questions like “what kind of hotdish” they think their bus would be and if the driver could actually order pizza on her bus phone.
For the most part, he says, people have been game to play along. A lot of them will tell him, honestly, that riding the bus is sometimes a pain, but that it’s usually great.
“It’s not scary if you know where [the bus] is going,” he explains. “It’s not full of scary strangers. It’s full of regular strangers.”
His hope is to demystify the bus system and debunk biases against it. There’s this attitude out there, he says, that people who ride the bus either have no other choice, or are some kind of utopian idealist trying to prove a point. In reality, it’s just one more way to get around -- especially in winter, when “driving sucks” anyway.
The biggest surprise, Danger says, was how willing Metro Transit was to play along. A spokesperson got in contact with him right after he idly tweeted about the idea, and the rest was history. So far, Metro Transit has given him free rein to ask whatever friendly, sweet, or goofy questions he wants while he rides along.
Metro Transit has released the first episode on its website, and viewers have already started recommending buses Danger should ride next. He hopes it’ll be popular enough that he can put another one out every few weeks or so -- maybe even ride one of those lines that goes way out to the suburbs. The sky’s the limit.
“Maybe at some point, people will be like, ‘The bus is actually fun,’” he says. Then again, maybe not -- but he’ll be satisfied if he gets people to give it a chance. If he could become an experienced bus rider, so can anyone else.