Riding the bus in Vero

In Brevard County, we have what has been rated as one of the best transportation systems in the nation.  Space Coast Area Transportation (SCAT) has won national awards for service, their employees and drivers.  Their drivers have been finalist in the state and national bus rodeos for many years.

Within the mentally challenged community, riding the bus or a van route is a daily adventure or a total pain.  Most of the Special Gathering members enjoy riding to their day programs or to their job in the community.  I’ve been doing van routes for more than 19 years.  Special Gathering is a ministry within the developmentally disabled community.  We do classic ministry, discipleship and evangelism.  However, our members don’t drive. Van and bus routes are a necessary part of what we must do to have successful programs.

In my years behind the steering wheel of a bus or van, I’ve learned that for our members, it is a time to spend with their peers.  It’s more than a journey from one spot to another.  It is the only time many people who live within this sub-culture are able to enjoy each other without the pressure of something to do.  There’s no pressure of the next bowling frame, no parents, no dance floor, not much supervision.  It’s merely a few hours of non-pressured time for fellowship, fun and flirting. 

Many professional and most parents hate the fact that as much as four or five hours of their consumers’ or children’s day is spent riding the bus.  But within the context of a “normal” day.  It’s probably not a bad thing.  I have to spend about three hours traveling each day that I have an appointment or commitment in Indian River County because I live in Brevard.  And that time is spent with myself, in prayer or with the radio.  Riding the bus with a couple of friends looks attractive to me.

As the gas crunch is pushing more and more people to the bus stops, Brevard County residents may learn a few lessons in public transportation that our members learned long ago.  

The first lesson:  Bring a friend or bring a book. 

The second lesson:  Conversation with your riding companion is good–unless they are reading a book. 

The third lesson:  Expect some delays.  It is public transportation.

The fourth lesson:  Be at the bus stop on time–even if you have to wait.  The bus can’t wait on you or anyone else.

The fifth lesson:  Make friends with the bus driver.  They are great people and they can really be good friends.  Going the extra mile for their passengers is what they enjoy, even more than making their stops on time.

The sixth lesson:  You can bring your bike.  You will need to attach the bike on the bus yourself; but having your own wheels, will give you transportation to your final destination.

The seventh lesson:  Sharing your faith becomes a natural outgrowth of a bus friendship.  One of our most faithful members and a deacon in our Melbourne program came to The Special Gathering because Ted, his friend and bus companion, invited him.

What are some lessons you’ve learned about using public transportation from your members?  I think much of their great patience has been learned from their time riding the bus.  What do you think?