حكاياتي في الباص: بين المغامرة والراحة

“دورة – جونيه – جبيل”، “العدلية – البربير – الكولا”، “صور – النبطية”، “طرابلس – طرابلس”، “تاكس – تاكس”، “طالعة مدام؟”، هي العبارات التي تزدحم داخل أذنيّ عند التنقّل سيرًا في منطقة بيروت الكبرى. فعددٌ كبيرٌ من سائقي الباصات والسيارات العمومية يتخذّون من المرافق العامّة مواقف لهم لاستقطاب الركاب ونقلهم إلى المكان الذي يقصدونه، ولكن للأسف فقط  25% من سكان لبنان يعتمدون على وسائل النقل المشترك، والبقية يعتمدون على وسائلهم الخاصة بحيث نجد سيارة لكل ثلاثة أفراد في لبنان والتي هي نسبة عالية مقارنةً بدول العالم. وذلك لعدة أسباب منها عدم تنظيم هذا القطاع من قبل السلطات اللبنانية، سرعة السائقين، المضايقات التي تتعرّض لها الفتيات إجمالاً… بالرغم من ذلك، ولايماني بالفوائد الكثيرة لاستعمال وسائل النقل المشترك، أستعمل يوميًا الباصات وسيارات الأجرة للتنقل من وإلى العمل وإلى الاماكن التي أزورها. وفيما يلي سأسرد لكم البعض من حكاياتي في الباصات، لفترة تقارب العشر سنوات، محاولةً إقناعكم باستخدام وسائل هذا القطاع.

كون مركز عملي في الليلكي، أستقلّ يوميًا الفان رقم 4 من وإلى الطيونة وذلك مقابل 1000 ليرة لبنانية فقط لاغير، وأيضًا أستقلّه للذهاب إلى الحمرا والداون تاون. وعند الذهاب إلى البربير، فردان، أو الحمرا أستقلّ الباص رقم 24 (كلفته أيضًا 1000 ل. ل.)، وكنت أستقلّة حين كان عملي في فردان. أمّا للذهاب إلى جونيه أو الكسليك، أستقّل الباص رقم 6 أو الفانات الصغيرة التي تتّجه إلى طرابلس (هنا الكلفة 3000 ل. ل.)، وللتنقّل من برج حمود إلى السوديكو أو المنارة، أستعمل الباص رقم  15 (1000 ل. ل.). كما أذكر بأنه حين قرّرتُ وصديقتي لمى الذهاب إلى عاصمة الشمال، طرابلس لتمضية بعض الوقت، استقلّينا حافلة تابعة لشركة Connexion من موقف شارل الحلو للباصات إلى ساحة النور في طرابلس (مقابل 5000 ل. ل.). ومرّة أخرى اضطررت للذهاب إلى النبطية وصور، فالحلّ كان بالذهاب بسيارة الأجرة إلى الموقف قرب السفارة الكويتية، والذهاب بأحد الفانات مقابل 5000 ل.ل.

خلال رحلاتي هذه أشعر أحيانًا بالخوف والقلق، ولكن الشعور بالراحة والتوفير والمحافظة على البيئة يطغى ويشجعني على استعمالها، رغم كلّ التحديات. لا أنكر بأن صلواتي في الفان رقم 4 تعادل أو حتى تفوق تلك التي أتلوها في الكنيسة، نظرًا لتهوّر بعض السائقين وسرعتهم، ولكن لم يحدث معي أي حادث يذكر، مع العلم بأن معظم تنقلاتي تكون خلال فترة الليل. ولا أنكر أيضًا تعرّضي لعدة محاولات تحرّش جنسي لفظي، نظري، أو لمسي ولكن حسب تقرير أمين عام الأمم المتحدة، حول القضاء على كافة أشكال العنف ضد المرأة، التحرش الجنسي موجود في كل الأماكن الخاصة منها والعامة. وموقع متعقّب التحرّش، يظهر أيضًا بأن البعض تعرّض لمحاولات تحرّش داخل سياراتهم الخاصة. ولتفادي التحرّش، أعمل على تطبيق عدة نصائح قرأتها كالانتباه والتيقظ ومشاهدة الأشخاص بعيونهم وتذكّر ملامحهم، أو الاتصال بأي شخص وإبلاغه كل المعلومات حول مواصفات السيارة والسائق ومكاني والمدة التي أحتاجها للوصول وذلك بصوتٍ مرتفع لكي يشعر السائق بالخوف، والصراخ لطلب النجدة أو استعمال رذاذة عطر صغيرة للرشّ في عيني الشخص الذي يحاول التحرّش.

بمقابل التحديات المذكورة أتمتّع بعدة فوائد خلال تنقلي في الباصات أو سيارات الأجرة. بدايةً أوفّر الكثير من المال، فبدل الكلفة السنوية لاقتناء سيارة وصيانتها وتغذيتها بالفيول والدفع مقابل ركنها، أقوم بعدة نشاطات ترفيهية. بالإضافة لتوفير المال، أوفّر الكثير من الوقت، فبدل القيادة وتضييع الوقت في البحث عن مكان لركن السيارة، أقوم بقراءة كتاب خلال المسافات الطويلة أو تصفّح مواقع التواصل الاجتماعي خلال المسافات القصيرة، حتّى في بعض الأحيان أقوم بمتابعة أعمالي في الباص كإرسال بريد إلكتروني أو الردّ على شخص ما. كما أن استعمال وسائل النقل المشترك، يعزّز لديّ شعور المواطينة حيث أشعر بالقيام بواجبي كمواطنة لبنانية صالحة. فأقدّر أهمية النقل المشترك في تقليل نسبة التلوّث، حيث أن العدد الكبير للسيارات هو من أهمّ أسباب تلوّث الهواء في بيروت. وأهميته أيضًا في التخفيف من ازدحام السير الذي يكلّف الدولة اللبنانية سنويّا حوالي 2 مليار دولار ما يقارب 4% من الناتج الإجمالي المحلي. بالإضافة لذلك، أشعر بمسؤوليتي تجاه تخفيف حوادث السير إذ إن البحث التي أعدّه مؤخرًا الدكتور علي غندور، الباحث في المجلس الوطني للبحوث العلمية تشير بأن كثرة حوادث السير في لبنان مرتبطة بكثافة السيارات على الطرقات. فاستعمال وسائل النقل العام يخفّف من عدد السيارات وبالتالي يخفّف من مخاطر الحوادث، ويمكن مراجعة هذه المخاطر عبر خريطة مخاطر حوادث السير هذه المعدّة وفقًا للبحث المذكور سابقًا.

هذا البعض من حكاياتي في الباصات، على أمل أن تزيد نسبة مستخدميها عن الـ25% في المستقبل، من قبل الرجال والفتيات. تتحمّل السلطات اللبنانية مسؤولية فوضوية قطاع النقل العام المشترك وتراجعه، ولكن يوجد عدة مبادرات من جهات دولية كالبنك الدولي لتحسينه. والأهمّ هي المبادرات الوطنية والخطط التي تطلقها المؤسسات الحكومية أو تلك التي تقوم بها المؤسسات الغير حكومية. فمباردة مشروع خريطة الباص عملت على تصوير خطوط الباصات التي تربط مدن لبنان، فما عليكم سوى تحميل التطبيق لمعرفة الخطّ الموجود لايصالكم لوجهتكم والتحلّي بالقوة والشجاعة والذهاب بالباص. أمّا إذا كانت الوجهة غير مذكورة، فعليكم بسيارة الأجرة أو استخدام تطبيق أوبر. ولا تنسوا إلقاء التحية عند الصعود والتوجّه بالشكر عند النزول، فنجعل من الايجابية رفيقتنا في كل الأمكنة والأوقات!

نينات كامل

#HerBus: “The buses do exist; the map simply tracked them down”—Youmna’s story

We are always happy to receive stories of riding the bus, particularly when they highlight the diversity of gendered experiences on Lebanon’s transit, as part of our occasional but still ongoing #HerBus series. And these stories are even more special when they intersect with our own!

Youmna got in touch and told us how Bus Map Project co-founder Chadi Faraj’s app had a significant impact on her mobility in and around Beirut.

Fun fact: googling how to get to Fanar by bus was the exact same way our team first got together!

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Being a Beiruty girl, who loves to go out, but is living outside of Beirut without a car, has never been easy.

Needing a family member or a friend to drive me, or paying a minimum of $10 to go anywhere, drove me to buy a car in my early twenties; lack of parking spaces and nervousness while driving from Bshemoun to work in Hamra drove me to give my car away and miss out on most events in my late twenties.

I created a car-less pattern that suited me: I go in the morning with dad go to work in Hamra; I stay after work in Hamra to feel alive, then make dad come and take me home.

I was once asked by a foreign friend while nagging about my problem why I didn’t take public transport? And at that time, I remember feeling ashamed while saying to him that we don’t have any.

The pattern I created went great until my dad needed to travel for two weeks and I left my job and needed a more economical method to go to Fanar to conduct a study, so I started googling, and by coincidence, I found the Lebanon Buses app.

Using the app, I learned how I could take the Number 15 from Corniche then jump into the Number 5. On the way back, I could take a service to Dawra and then the Number 2 to Hamra.

After using the app, I paid 3000LL instead of 30,000LL per day, and I became curious about how I could use more buses.

When I shared the app and map with my friends, half of them said: “you wish!” And I was so pleased to tell them that the app is correct; that the buses do exist and the map simply tracked them down.

With every bus ride, there is a story. They’re safer and funnier than taxies, so hopefully I will be sharing these stories with you as they come along.

Learning to Use Lebanese Buses, One Trip at a Time—a #RiderStory

by Jad Baaklini and Mira Tfaily

Lack of information is the main obstacle stopping many people from using public transport in Lebanon. This issue, and the fact that this gap in public knowledge has too often been filled with simplistic myth or exaggerated legend, is the raison d’être of our project.

But overcoming this obstacle, in our view, is not just a matter of taking on the role of the cartographic “Godot” we’ve been waiting for; Bus Map Project has been and still is stubbornly insistent on pushing the problematic beyond the quick-fix mentality: if you’re interested in riding the bus in Lebanon, you can either choose to remain an outsider, or you can take a leap of faith and engage with the system to learn about it first-hand, route by route, journey by journey, contributing to a collective map that isn’t dropped from the sky, but rather, has been laboriously tended to, and is chock-full of living history.

Today’s #RiderStory introduces Clément, a French hiker who shares our zeal, and who has taken it upon himself to figure out the system at its very fringes. Building up a library of experiential knowledge, Clément has been sharing his discoveries and tricks on his hiking website, as well as contributing to our collective mapping process. In this post, we reflect on his learning as a way of better expressing our own.

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« The Lebanese bus system can seem difficult to access for neophytes, but once you start asking people on the ground, it can be figured out smoothly and little by little. My first time in Dora as a foreigner was quite an experience, but now I get around very easily there, » Clément explains. His first experience taking the bus was on a well-known route, the very busy Dora-Byblos line. He then started exploring lesser-known routes, learning about the system empirically and piecing together the bigger picture route by route. « I was surprised by how little information there is on public transport in Lebanon. One good way of seeing if the system is understandable to outsiders is to see whether foreigners are able to access it or not. I noted that the routes going from Cola to the South and Dora to Tripoli are indeed used by foreigners -– who hear of them by word-of-mouth -– but the rest of the routes are pretty much used only by locals who need the buses to reach their villages or workplaces. »

Clément’s reflections bring up a very interesting “epistemology” or theory of knowledge for a city like Beirut. We often say that our project attempts to make Beirut “more legible,” which is a word that evokes a very visual, or even textual, way of engaging with the city. It’s the kind of engagement described in Kevin Lynch’s “The Image of the City”, a classic in the urban literature. In it, Lynch talks about the « highly imageable (apparent, legible, or visible) city [as] well formed, distinct, remarkable; it would invite the eye and the ear to greater attention and participation…Such a city would be one that could be apprehended over time as a pattern of high continuity with many distinctive parts clearly inter-connected. » We hesitate to try and analyze Beirut by this definition; at the very least, we’d double and triple underline the “over time” part of that sentence. Instead, Clément’s observation of how Beirut’s transit system is gradually apprehended by outsiders through word-of-mouth is an important reminder of the fact that visual representations of a city — like mapping — will miss a lot about how a city like Beirut actually functions. Even Lynch admits that there are other properties in “beautiful environments,” like « meaning or expressiveness, sensuous delight, rhythm, stimulus, choice » — these are aspects of urban life that are too easily sacrificed when the issue of public transport is reduced to a problem of “lack.” As Jenny Gustafsson once wrote in a popular article on ‘mapping Beirut-style,’ « Maps, when functioning well, become an extension of our knowledge » — to which, we add the important caveat: maps can also easily become dysfunctional if they crowd out or colonize other ways of knowing.

Clément’s empirical discoveries allowed him to develop tricks to make the most of the system, and speak in the urban vocabulary and grammar more fluently: « In Dora for example, it is better to stand further from the bus stop and hop on a bus that is already on its way, rather than waiting at the bus stop for a bus to fill up and go. » Another clever strategy is to take a van rather than a bus when going to a far-away place like Tripoli: they fill up more rapidly than buses and hence will go straight to the final destination without stopping every few kilometers to pick up clients. What map can teach you that? Quoting from Jenny’s article again, it is important that transit solutions in the Middle East take seriously the way that MENA cities are actually put together: « It’s about learning how a city works. There’s usually a very clear order; you just have to understand it. »

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After getting in touch with us, Clément started volunteering his time for Bus Map Project exploring new and obscure routes, tracking the Cola-Niha line for example, among others. « I think it is a challenge to map the informal system because here people are used to orienting themselves differently, with landmarks rather than streets for example. The only map I was able to find was the Zawarib one for Beirut buses. However, I found it quite difficult to use; it looked like a metro map and some routes were outdated, » he explained. The predominance of the metro-style or “Tube map” is not just a matter of aesthetics; it is a deliberate choice to represent the city in a very particular way, one that sacrifices much too much cultural nuance for the sake of supposed clarity and visual appeal. One of our friends who produced a transit map in another city in the region once lamented to us how little their highly-schematic map was being used by the general public, saying that « people here aren’t used to reading maps » — we’d turn that problem on its head, and say, instead, that people here aren’t used to valuing how people here actually are (think, live, and get around). Mapping MENA-style is indeed a very real but worthwhile challenge.

Among Clément’s repertoire of urban tactics was learning to avoid congestion by deftly choosing internal versus external routes to get around faster; for example, hopping on the external Bikfaya-Dora line to get from Sin-el-Fil to Dora. These are tricks that can only be learned over time. « Lebanese people are often surprised when I explain that I take the bus; I’m guessing the lack of information available contributes to unnecessary stigmas such as danger or violence, which is very far from the truth, » he reflected. We’d add that the lack of information is also an opportunity to contribute more intentionally to the city-making we are always already part of — Clément’s tips and tricks are urbanism, no less important for shaping the city than any engineering blueprint or national land transport strategy.

Clément's watch, that he uses to track the bus routes
Clément’s watch, that he uses to track the bus routes

Sensing that he is contributing to something larger than himself, Clément started a hiking website to share his transit discoveries. « I am a hiker and I wanted to explore Lebanon by myself, but I quickly figured out that all hiking websites took it as a prerequisite to have a car to get to the trails. So I started tracking the bus routes I would take using my watch and uploading them on my website. » By documenting his experiences with routes, precise information and pictures, he encourages and equips wanderers of all kinds to experience Lebanon differently. « I am just sharing the information I would have liked to have had when I arrived here in January. The website of the Lebanon Mountain Trail is very complete but does not display any information on how to get to the trails by public transport. The travel agency Living Lebanon gathers some useful routes, but not all of them; it’s the same for the WikiLoc portal. » While a lot of hikers in Lebanon go on organized group tours where everything is taken care of, Clément’s sharing of information is an invitation to explore, learn and document more individually and freely. And in doing so, helps us connect the dots between two engaged, but previously-disconnected communities that #LiveLoveLebanon in the city and beyond.

Are you a transit rider? Do you want to contribute to our project? Email us at hello [at] busmap [dot] me

خبرة نسوية تقاطعية في استخدام النقل المشترك في لبنان

ميرا طفيلي:

“حلو جسمك”, “شو اسمك”, “وين بيتك”, “في منك ع جالو”… هذه وغيرها من العبارات الغير مرحب بها وهي قد تكون جزء من التجربة اليومية في المساحات والاماكن العامة للنساء في لبنان.

هذه الاعتداءات الصغيرة او البسيطة كم يبادر لاذهان البعض ترسم اطار دينامكية التنقل للنساء في المدينة ,ويجب اخذها في الاعتبار عند التخطيط لنقل اكثر استدامة في بيروت.

في الواقع ان الخوف من التحرش هو من اولى الوصمات المرتبطة بالنقل المشترك اليوم, وهو خوف يمنع الكثير من النساء من استخدام الباص. ان تجارب النساء في ركوب الباصات, تتأرجح بين هذا الخوف المستمر والمبالغ فيه والحقيقة المحزنة, و هذه التجارب تشكل نقطة انطلاق حيوية لاي حوار او ناقش عن الاندماج اجتماعي والتغيير المدني في النطاق العام و المشترك في المدينة.

بعيدا عن كل هذا الضجيج المرتبط بالنقل المشترك في بيروت, كل يوم اجد نفسي مندهشة امام ما يقوم به سائقو الحافلات لحماية النساء داخل حافلاتهم. ومن العادات الشائعة توفير السائق المقعد الامامي للجلوس بعيدا عن الركاب الذكور, اعطاء فسحة الركاب مجال امن للتحرك داخل الباص, وقد تذهب الامور بعض الاحيان الى اعطائي احد الركاب مقاعدهم حتى اتمكن من الجلوس بشكل مريح بعيدا عن اي من المتحرشين. والكثير من الركاب في كثير من الاحيان قد ساعدوني و دافعوا عني عن حصول اي مضايقات او عند شعوري بعدم الامان.

بيد أنه من المؤسف أن جميع هذه الجهود الإيجابية تندرج في نفس الخانة: فالطيبة والاخذ بعين الاعتبار انني أمراة لا يزلان يحدداني كأمرأة تستعمل الباص, “مفعول بها” وليست فاعلة, و يجب حمايتها .وانه سيكون من الأفضل بكثير إذا كانت هذه الأعمال اليومية تمتد نحو تثقيف وتوعية  الرجال الذين وضعوني في هذه الحالات في المقام الأول.

في احد المرات, ازعجني احد الركاب فوقف بعض الرجال واعطوني مقاعدهم ولكن لم يقم احد منهم بالاشارة الى المعتدي اواعلان عنه او حتى اخراجه من الحافلة. على الرغم من الترحيب بهذه التصرفات الحسنة التي تحمي النساء ولكن تبقى تصرفات كردات فعل وليست للحماية والوقاية الدائمة. ان مساعدة الناس بشكل سريع ولحظي لهو شيئ جيد ولكن اطار ثقافة هؤلاء الرجال ليس خارج النظام الأبوي بل انهم من قلب هذا النظام و من صلبه. ان شهامتهم  ليست الا كردة فعل طبيعية على فعل الاعتداء يستكمل بـموازنته بوقوفهم ضده لا اكثر, في حين ان النساء بقفون بشكل سلبي ومع الامتنان.

وهناك جانب آخر من مظاهر هذه التفاعلات المتناقضة: هو الانتقائية العنصرية والطبقية المتأصلة في اهتمامهم, فالنساء السود أو السوريات هن دائما أقل احتمالا للدفاع عنهن أو الاهتمام بهم من النساء اللبنانيات، مما يجعل النساء المهاجرات أكثر تعرضا للمضايقات. وهذا يثير الحاجة إلى جدال أكثر تعمقا وشمولية بشأن النقل المشترك باعتباره صورة مصغرة لمجتمعنا ككل.

هل هذه المشكلة متأصلة في واقع الحافلة كمساحة لقاء, أم أنها امتداد لثقافات معادية لاستقلالية المرأة على نطاق أوسع؟ انطلاقا من هذا التحليل المتقاطع، يخلص المرء إلى أن المضايقات في الحافلات هي مشكلة لا تعكس بشكل كبير مشكلة الامان في وسائل النقل المشترك، انما تعكس بشكل أكبر حقيقة تواجد المرأة في أي مكان عام في ظل النظام الأبوي.

لا ينبغي تجاهل المخاوف، ولكن يجب أن نضع هذه مخاوف في اطارها الصحيح: الشعور بالتهميش أو بعدم الانتماء أو بعدم الامان ليس أكثر حدة في الحافلة مما هو عليه في أي مكان حضري آخر. ومن وجهة نظري، لا يمكننا أن نجعل مساحات النقل المشترك أكثر أمانا وأكثر شموليتاُ للنساء دون التشكيك في المجتمع الأبوي والكاره للنساء. النقل المشترك جانب واحد من مجموعة أوسع من المسائل المثيرة للقلق: الحقوق الجندرية والاستقلال الجسد والعنصرية والطبقية والتضامن الاجتماعي.

وهذه المعركة لا يمكن أن تحدث عندما تتجنب النساء الحافلة. وبصفتنا نساء، نحتاج إلى اثبات وجودنا في هذا المجال الحضري الحيوي، ونحن بحاجة إلى تغيير شروط النقاش من المخاوف على سلامتنا إلى التزام مشترك بحقوقنا في المدينة. ما هو على امامنا في الحافلة يناسب صورة أكبر: استئصال الحوار من مشاكل النقل المشترك الى التضامن النسوي ومكافحة العنصرية. إن الاهتمام بالسلامة والكرامة والمساواة للجميع يعني قدرة أكثر فعالية على استعادة مستقبل بيروت للجميع.

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هذا المقال قد كتبته ميرا طفيلي و نشر بالانكليزية في موقع Beirut Today .وترجمه الى العربية شادي فرج .

بس للحلوين

بعد عدة سنين من استخدامي النقل المشترك ، وتحديدا ” الفانات”، أحب أن اتحدث عنها  من زاويتي الخاصة، بعيدا عن الكليشيهات المستخدمة في توصيفها وعن الإستياء من مزاحمتها  السيارات السياحية التي لا يقل سائقوها عدوانية عن سائقي الفانات !

بداية ، لا شك أن النقل المشترك في لبنان، ككل شيء آخر،  يعكس حالة الوطن. فهو صنيعة الفوضى المهيمنة في غياب التخطيط على الصعد كافة . ونشاهد يوميا مخالفات فاقعة لأنظمة السير ولأبسط الشروط البيئية وشروط السلامة، ما يجعلنا نتساءل كيف يلاحظ الشرطي غياب حزام الأمان أيام “الكبسات المرورية ” ولا يلاحظ الدخان الأسود المتصاعد من عوادم المركبات أو سائقي الدراجات النارية الذين تسخّر الطرقات والقوانين لبهلوانياتها !! عدا استعمال النُّمَر الخصوصيّة او تلك المطلية بالأحمر فتصير المركبة عمومية بضربة فرشاة!!

ولكن, هذا النظام من جهة أخرى له العديد من الفوائد الى حد أنه يتفوّق بها على باقي أنظمة النقل المشترك حول العالم:

النقل بواسطة الفانات يوفّر خدمة مريحة نسبيا لأنه يتيح للراكب الركوب والنزول في أي نقطة يريدها على مسار المركبة. هذه الخدمة قد تؤخّر باقي الركاب بسبب كثرة التوقّف والإقلاع ولكنها بالمقابل توفّر عليهم وقت وعناء السّير من وإلى المحطة. هذه الميزة نوّه بها أصدقاء أجانب إستعملوا الفانات خلال إقامتهم في لبنان.

من جهة ثانية، كل راكب يحصل على مقعد. فعندما استعملت النقل المشترك في اسطنبول (قطار أنفاق, باصات وقطار مُدُنيّ) خلال ساعات الذّروة, اضطررت الى الوقوف مع عدة أشخاص ملتصقين بي. في حين أن الفان الذي يمتلئ لا يستقبل ركّابا إضافيين إلا نادراً. علما أن  أن مقاعد الفانات غير مريحة أحيانا. إلا ان هذاا العامل غير كاف لتبديل نظام  النقل هذا .

وإذا استثنينا  الفانات التي تستعمل محركات مازوت أحيانًا او نلك التي تسير من دون فلتر للهواء و لا تراعي الشروط البيئية ، فإن نظام النقل المشترك المعتمد بيئي نسبيا كونه يوفّر استخدام المحروقات ويراعي أوقات الذروة بحيث تكثف الفانات نشاطها في أوقات الذروة وتخففها في الأوقات الأخرى. قبحسب دراسة أُجريت على النقل المشترك  حول العالم, فإن الباصات حين تعمل خارج أوقات الذّروة تلوّث البيئة أكثر مما يلوثها إستخدام كل راكب لسيارته الخاصة.

فهذا النظام مَرِن ومتناسب مع عدد الركاب بدل أن يكون جامدًا بحيث يمر الباص بانتظام في الموقف بغضّ النظر عن عدد الركاب. قد نكره الإنتظار حتى امتلاء الفان بالركاب ولكن هذه الخطوة مفيدة من أجل الوطن والبيئة. يعتبر العديد من الناس  أن نقلنا المشترك غير ناجح وأنه علينا شقّ سكك حديديّة او بناء نظام قطار أنفاق… ولكن لعل تحسين وتطوير نظام النقل بواسطة الفان أجدى من استبدال هذا النظام بحلول خياليّة باهظة الثمن تتطلّب وقتًا ومجهودًا في بلدٍ صغير الحجم ومثقل بالديون !

ومن التحسينات الضرورية لهذا النظام منع التدخين في المركبات وتكبير المقاعد وتحسين وضعيّتها،إستحداث نظام رقابة فعّال وتدريب السائقين وتعديل الفانات لتتماشى مع أوضاع ذوي الإحتياجات الخاصة… كما يمكن تخصيص مسار  للفانات على الطرقات كما هو الأمر في بلاد أخرى بحيث تتمتع بأفضلية المرور كونها تنقل حوالي 15 شخصا وتخفف بالتالي من التلوث وازدحام السير.

بعض الأجانب إستمتعوا باستخدام الفانات في التنقل.  وأنا أعتقد أنّها تجربة سياحية مميزة وغير كلاسيكية  لا تسوّق لها وزارة السياحة. هناك من يجد أن الأغاني “الوظّية” التي نسمعها في القانات والمركبات الغير المتشابهة والزينة المبهرجة تجغل منها نظام نقل غير محترف وغير مقبول ولكنني أجد ذلك مثيرًا للإهتمام ومسليًا. فكما أحب قراءة الحِكَم على الشاحنات, أستمتع بمراقبة الإضافات التي تعكس شخصيّة مالك الفان.

نظام النقل هذا يعبّر عنّا كشعب أكثر من نظام ممنهج مستورد من الغرب. فعبارة “بس للحلوين” التي أقرأها أحيانًا على خلفية أحد الفانات تشعرني بالإنتماء الى ثقافة فريدة. فبدل أن ننضوي تحت تبعيّة إضافية للنمط الغربي, دعونا نبني نقلًا مشتركًا جيّدًا ومميّزًا من خلال تحسين نظام  النقل المعتمد حاليا والذي يلبي حاجاتنا بطريقة مبدعة . يقول عُمدة بوغوتا إنريكي بٍنيالوسا: الدولة المتطورة ليست حيث يمتلك جميع الفقراء سيارات بل حيث يستعمل الأغنياء النقل المشترك.

نشكر السيد محمد مرتضى لمشاركتنا هذا المقال الرائع الذي كتبه في 7 تشرين الثاني 2014 في مجلة موزايك ونحن نعيد    نشره  بعد اتصاله بنا ورغبته بنشر المقال في البلوغ  ونحن كفريق نشكره على هذه البادرة ونطلب من الجميع ممن لديه  رغبة الكتابة الاتصال بنا

محمد مرتضى

تشرين الثاني  2014

#HerBus: ‘Seeing the City with New Eyes’—Sara and Sirene

Earlier this year, we launched a series on women’s experiences of public transport in Lebanon, which we opened with a post about ‘first impressions.’ This summer, we are leading a Collective Map Action with a group of students, some of whom have never taken a bus before. Here’s the story of two new bus riders:

 

How Can Public Transportation Curate your Perception of the City?

by Mira Tfaily

Of all the reasons that could push someone to climb into a Lebanese bus, one of the most fascinating is curiosity. This is the motive that led Sara and Sirene, two AUB landscape architecture students, to take part in the Bus Map Project’s summer mapping initiative as volunteers. With the academic background they are bringing with them, the two young women reflected on the way their first-hand experience as bus riders has shifted their perception of the city:

“We took Bus 15 from Ain el Mreisseh — we weren’t sure where it was heading, so we decided to stay on the bus, to see if it would take us back to Ain el Mreisseh. We had to take another bus at Dora; the whole trip took us 2 hours,” they explained, as they told me about their very first bus ride. Taking the bus without knowing where it was going became a new way to marvel at things they usually pass by without noticing. From this perspective, public transportation can be a way to awaken curiosity, raise new questions and imagine new answers.

HD-Picture3

“Usually, we travel the city by car or by walking. We had some misconceptions before taking the bus; mainly about danger and uncertainty. However, now that we have taken it, our prejudices have somehow vanished. It’s really easy and affordable to use. It isn’t particularly dangerous for a woman to use. You always have to be careful — not because you’re in a bus, but because you’re in Lebanon.”

Sara and Sirene still see that lack of information is the main problem regarding buses. “We were asking riders for information. Most of them did not have any idea regarding the final destination of the bus, but rather, they knew that the bus would pass by the place they were going to.” However, by choosing to go beyond this uncertainty, the two volunteers subverted their lack of familiarity with the whole system into a new way to poetically apprehend the urban environment we all are entangled in.

Capture

Their second trip was much more ambitious, and saw them taking a van from Jnah to the Bekaa Valley. This experience allowed them to think of and speak about the bus as a truly public space, appreciating the social diversity that is ‘consubstantial’ to their own being. Buses are part of the urban environment, but they still remain invisible to a large part of the population that knowingly or unknowingly chooses not to see them.

“I don’t think we have a culture of the public space in Lebanon. Moreover, there are a lot of stigmas attached to taking public transportation. Change will come little by little. Taking the buses and learning to see them with new eyes is the first step to amelioration.”

And curiosity is the first step of that first step of understanding these invisible yet ubiquitous buses that shape the urban life of a silent part of the population. Get curious, and start taking part in this latent conversation.

 

#HerBus: الفوضى والفلتان—Lynn’s Story

Today’s #HerBus story is troubling and bleak, and some of the conclusions it draws are controversial. While it is not a first-hand account, we thank Lynn for sharing her thoughts and reflections on the experiences of Lebanese women on public transport, because the fear of violence and exploitation that she expresses is real and pervasive. Scroll down to read our translation of Lynn’s story.

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لطالما كنّا ندرك سابقاً ان الامن اللبناني غائب عن الساحة المحليّة، وقد تسبب هذا الغياب بتفشّي ظاهرة خطف المواطنين من امام مسكنهم او حتى خطف القاصرات من خارج المدارس في بعض المناطق كما بات معلوماً في الآونة الاخيرة

هنا سأسرد واقعة حصلت مع رفيقتي حيث أخبرتني اذ انّها كانت في أحد الأيام بإنتظار باص ليقلّها من جسر الكولا الى جونية حيث اعترضها شابان وبدءا يتحرشا بها لفظيّاً ويٌسمعاها كلام بذيئاً. وعندما تحاول كل فتاة الوقوف بقرب رجل الأمن يلحق بها من كان يضايقها غيرآبهين لوجوده. ويصل الباص وهنا الخطورة الكبيرة حيث تكون هذه الشابة الانثى الوحيدة في خضمّ مجموعة ذكور ينهالون عليها بالنظرات وكأنها حوريّة في بحرالعسل فتعيش الشابة حينئذٍ ليس فقط خوف داخلي انّما رعب شديد من هؤلاء. وما تلبث رحلة الوصول الى المنزل بالانقضاء يحاصرالفتاة رجلين او ثلاث ويحاولون الاعتداء عليها لفظيّاً علماً ان السائق لا يفتح فاهه لربما اعتاد على هذا النمط من الالتماس او انّه يفضّل تجنّب التورّط معهم

يتحوّل الباص من الساعة الواحدة ظهراً حتّى التاسعة مساءً الى شريعة غاب تسود قوّة الرجال داخل حافلات النقل العام وما من رقيب ولاحسيب. تعيش الفتاة اللبنانية اثناء تنقّلها ذعراً لا مثيل له، مما ينعكس سلباً على حياتها النفسيّة اولاً وتفقد ثقتها وعزّة نفسها ثانيةً ومهما كانت هذه الفتاة جبّارة ستصل الى مرحلة تشعر فيها بالانحطاطٍ والتعاسة، علماً ان بعض الشابات اليافعات تقعن ضحيّة هذا التحرّش ليؤدّي بعدها في بعض الحالات الى استغلال جسدي وجنسي ولا ندري اين يودي بها لأمر معها في النهاية الى حالات إكتئآب، امراض نفسيّة او حتّى الإنتحار في بعض الحالات

وهنا، لا يسعنا سوى ان ندق ناقوس الخطر في هذا المجال لجهّة ما يتسببه هذا الفلتان الامني واللا اخلاقي في وسائل النقل العامّة بحيث اصبحنا نرى انّ المواطن اللبناني يشكّل ما نسبته 15% من مستخدمي قطاع النقل هذا امام 85 % من الاجانب. فالانسان الطائش العديم مسؤليّة يرتكب الفوضى فتقع الشابات اليافعات ضحيّة الاستغلال. كثرت في السنوات الاخيرة قوانين لحماية المرأة من كافّة العنف الّا ان هذه القوانين ليست سوى حبر على ورق، ويجدر الذكر ان الذين يسيؤون للمرأة ويتعدون عليها لفظياً يحسبون انّ القوانين لا تطالهم ولا علاقة لهم بالقوانين المطروحة

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We have long known that security is missing from the scene in Lebanon, a situation which has led to a string of kidnappings, with citizens and even young girls taken from in front of their homes and schools in some areas of Lebanon, as we have heard stories about recently.

I will relay a story that happened to my friend, who told me how she had once been waiting for a bus from under Cola Bridge in the direction of Jounieh. While waiting for the bus, two young men began to verbally harass her, and say rude and inappropriate things to her. And when the young woman tried to stand closer to a police officer, her harassers continued to bother her, as though the officer was not there. When the bus arrives, the real danger begins, as this young lady is the only woman in a crowd of men, assailing her with their eyes, as though she is a mermaid [or angelic being, hooriya] in a “sea of honey”; this makes her very afraid, on a very deep level, as she begins to feel terror among these men. And as her journey home was coming to an end, two or three men began to assault her verbally, while the bus driver did not open his mouth, perhaps because he was used to this kind of behavior, or because he preferred to avoid getting into trouble with them.

From 1 to 9 pm, the bus is ruled by the law of the jungle, where the power of men prevails inside public transport vehicles with neither censure nor accountability. The young, Lebanese woman experiences a kind of fear without parallel as she commutes; this, firstly impacts her mental health negatively, and, secondly, leads her to lose her confidence and sense of self-dignity. No matter how resilient she is, there will come a time when she feels miserable and depressed. In some cases, some young girls fall victims of the kind of harassment that leads to physical and sexual assault, which could lead to serious emotional and psychological problems, and maybe even suicide in some cases.

We have to sound the alarm on this lack of security and morals on public transport, a situation that has led the Lebanese citizen to make up only 15% of the riding public, while the other 85% is made up of foreigners. Irresponsible people create chaos, which pushes young girls and women to fall into exploitation. Laws protecting women from all forms of violence have increased in recent years, except that these laws are nothing but ink on paper, and it is important to note that those who mistreat and verbally harass women believe that they are above the law.

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This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting the unique and complex experiences of women who use public transport in Lebanon. Photo by Rachel Burnham, taken as part of last summer’s Bus Map Photo Action. Rachel writes: “What endears me to riding the bus as a timid foreigner was the way that I was always graciously offered a seat, no matter how busy the bus or van.”

#HerBus: ‘Who is Who on the Bus?’—Lucia’s Story

Today’s #HerBus post is a photo-essay by Lucia Czernin, a writer and photographer who took part in our Bus Map Photo Action last summer. We are very happy to publish this beautiful account of her thoughts and experiences exploring our first edition bus map and getting to know some of the stories — just 14 glimpses — behind that intricate human tapestry that is the riding public.

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‘Who is Who on the Bus?’

by Lucia Czernin

Who are the people in the anonymous crowd of commuters? What are the stories behind them? I sometimes wonder why we are not constantly amazed to see new faces, given the fact that every face is unique in its way and represents a unique person and story. It might be a natural mechanism in order to protect us from the exhausting idea of endless new information. I guess humans need this security: familiarities, being surrounded by things and people they know, at least from time to time. In order to not lose control, we tend to divide the world into two broad categories: people we know and people we don’t know. But then, the process of a stranger changing categories, turning into someone we know, can consist of only a look, a smile, an insult or a simple gesture. This happens by chance or it can be deliberately provoked. But the idea of taking the initiative might frighten most of us, and I know it totally went against my own inclinations. And yet, as they say, “who dares, wins”.

Once on board, wavering down the “autostrade”, surrounded by honking, shouting and Arabic music, I thought I actually had a very important book to read and I might not really want to get to know these people. But then, I pulled myself together and dared to stumble over some awkward question in broken Arabic to the person in the seat in front of me. Suddenly, it seemed the music would stop, and people would interrupt their shouting and honking to fix their eyes on me, asking: “What is your problem?” Humans are an amusing species: on one hand we can only survive in community, while on the other hand, we love to lead a bubbled-up life. This tendency might be particularly strong in cities and is also referred to as “civil inattention”. Especially in cities that hold twice as many cars as persons, it seems that even on the bus, people like to pretend that they are on their own. Best strategy? Catch their attention.

Usually it is not very comfortable to look like a foreigner, but in these journeys that I documented, it helped to attract the curiosity of my fellow passengers. In some instances, I was lucky to meet new friends without having to take the first step, and could very naturally engage in conversation and photograph them. On two occasions I managed to bring an accomplice along, as my moral support; a partner in crime makes you feel bulletproof! So eventually I found myself bouncing across the bus talking to strangers. And every face I captured with my camera represents a precious add-on to my personal universe:


Lucia Czernin

Please say hello to Omar and Shanti. They have just gotten married, and they are perfectly happy using the bus on their honeymoon. You would think, they couldn’t be better off on a luxury cruise!


Lucia Czernin (Hamra)

As she enters the bus, the sweet elderly lady with the “Alice” band and the matching polka-dotted cotton dress radiates an air of confidence. She is one of those people that remind you of the caring granny from your childhood. As soon as she is seated, she produces her rosary booklet out of her handbag. Although she is fully focused on her pious activity, she doesn’t mind being interrupted. On the contrary! She is delighted to explain the different parts and prayers of the rosary, indicating pages and pictures. The rosary lady of Hamra seems to be in high spirits as she goes on to explain the Novena to Saint Rita (a nun from Italy of high popularity in Lebanon). She is about to offer me her dear devotional manuals, as if it were a precious gem. Her recommendations include novenas, a prayer repeated during nine days for a special intention. In her case, it is always about health issues: spiritual and physical ones – for family members and neighbours. The photo I take is the only thing that makes her uneasy. She feels embarrassed because she hasn’t arranged herself properly this morning. But then she takes a photo of me in return, as a souvenir. And I am assured that she would always send me a prayer whenever she finds me in her photo gallery, squeezed next to Saint Charbel and company.


Lucia Czernin (Hamra)

These two ladies have been following my conversation with the woman with the rosary, and have eagerly encouraged her to pose for my camera. Rima, the woman by the window, has been living in Lebanon for 31 years, getting married and raising her children here. We find her on her last day in Lebanon, however. Tomorrow, she will leave to her home country, Mauritius, for good. “I doubt very strongly that I will ever get the chance to come back,” she tells me. She seems to be serene about that. “What do I like about Lebanon? I love this country, especially the generosity of its people,” she says. The woman next to her, also from Mauritius, is a close friend who has been in the country for 25 years, and seems quite well established. What would be their message to the world, if they had the chance to be heard by everyone, standing on a balcony? Rima: “I will go home.”


Lucia Czernin (Hamra)

Ahmad could have done better if he had known about the photo session on the bus. But he bears it with dignity. He came to Lebanon from Raqqa, in Syria, two years ago. Back there, he owned a Falafel place. He stuck to his domain, and is now working at Abou André. Ahmad’s family members are all in Damascus. He goes there twice a year to support them. His message to the world: “that everyone may be alright, and all may be well.”


Lucia Czernin (Hamra)

This bright fella is on his way home from school. He lives in Basta and is in the 10th grade. School is alright, he tells me, and he particularly likes chemistry. Later he would like to become a nurse, because his cousin is a nurse and tells him that it’s a fine job. But he could also study to be a computer scientist. His message to the world: “World peace?”


Lucia Czernin (Hamra)

This is a father of four from Sudan. He works in Achrafieh and his family lives in Dora. His children are aged 5, 3, 2 and 1, and they all go to school in Achrafieh. His job is not what he had dreamed of, but at least he can work.


Lucia Czernin (Broumana)

Aida is going up to a village above Broumana, to her sister’s house, as she does every Sunday. Her sister needs this support since she would be lonely otherwise. Aida’s husband joins her, every time. He has been a sacristan in a church for 20 years. Aida works at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Ministry once sent her to South Africa, three years ago, on an accounting mission. She still remembers the many aunties in the kitchen there. She is 60 years old now, and doesn’t have any children. “I have cried a thousand tears because of that. But now I am old anyway,” she confides. Everything happens for a reason. Aida is the most confidant of all her work colleagues, and of her neighbours, and of her brothers and sisters, she tells me. She takes the bus every morning from Dora to Gemmayzeh. She even knows most of the other commuters who come from Tripoli, and worries about them when she doesn’t find some of them on the bus. They always greet each other. When asked about her message if she were standing on a balcony and had the chance to speak to the whole world, she first wants to know on which floor the balcony would be! “What would I say? Bonjour! Please come in!” She then adds that she would wish the world a blessed day, in case this was happening on a feast day. “Yesterday, for example, was the feast of Saint Thekla.”


Lucia Czernin (Faraya)

As I enter the bus in Dora, I seem to be crashing a private family scene. The driver is taking his wife and son out on a Sunday trip to Jbeil. All three of them are enjoying themselves, giggling and talking loudly. The driver’s son, Ryan, is proud to be helping out his father by collecting the transport fees from passengers, as they get off at their destinations. He turns out to be quite firm, to the extent that his father has to calm him down when two ladies get away with paying only 1000 LBP each, instead of the customary 1500 LBP. I am not surprised that Ryan wants to be a soldier when he grows up. He will definitely do his job dutifully.


Lucia Czernin (Jounieh)

“My name is Felicidad. Like in the Spanish Christmas song: Feliz navidad, feliz navidad…” she sings to me. Felicidad is married to a Lebanese man. Her husband is 92 years old, she herself 45. She has children and grand-children in the Philippines. She’s never met her grand-children. She used to work as a cosmetician, but now there is no time for that, since she is taking care of her husband. A good man, she tells me. She brought along her friend Mary, who has just arrived from the Philippines. Mary needs help getting around and building up her social network.


Lucia Czernin (Antelias)

Michelle feels great. She is on her way to work in Antelias. “If I was the owner of this bus, the first thing I would do is change the seats. And then I would remove the Smurf from the windscreen.” When asked about Lebanon, she assures that there are many positive sides to the place. To state just a few: its smallness – you will always find someone you know ore are related to. You will never be completely lost; the weather – so much sun and still you have four seasons!; the food… “Badkon chocolat?” is her message to the world.


Lucia Czernin (Jounieh)

Dunia is a refugee from Iraq. She came to Lebanon one month ago, together with her husband, her two children and her parents. She is now expecting her third baby. What she likes about Lebanon: they are safe here. They live in Jounieh and they haven’t made a lot of friends yet. There is hardly any interaction among neighbours here, she says. Her message to the world: “kounou bi aman w salam.”


Lucia Czernin (Safra)

Khaled is from Akkar. To him, Lebanon’s flora is a big plus, but his family always comes first. Khaled has always striven to work in the lighting sector. But after school, he started at Hawa Chicken and is now a security guard at the Canadian Embassy and at the German School in Jounieh. Through this job he has become a good observer, he tells me. But whenever he can, he gets away to Akkar. By bus, of course.


Lucia Czernin (Jbeil)

Let me introduce you to the “mas2oul” of the Crusader fortress in Byblos. This excellent man has been a loyal bus commuter from Jounieh to Byblos for 50 years. He always brings his lunch box in a small hand bag. He loves his job, since it allows him to meet people from all over the world, though he can hardly communicate with most of them, not being a fan of foreign languages. But he knows every historic detail relating to the fortress! Just ask.


Lucia Czernin (Antelias)

This is Ahlam on her way to Zalka. She works in a spa. Her favourite part of Lebanon is her family. The only thing she really can’t stand are the slow bus drivers. She tries to avoid them. Her phrase to the world: “respect one another.”

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Lucia’s story is part of an ongoing series highlighting the unique and complex experiences of women who use public transport in Lebanon. Do you have a story you want to share? We will post it with as much, or as little, editorial input as you request, to make sure that your voice is in the forefront. You can write in English, Arabic or French, and when appropriate, we will share a translation that sticks as closely as possible to the spirit of your story. Share an experience, keep it personal, make it academic, be creative — your city needs your voice!

#HerBus: ‘Van 4, from dawn to dusk’—Virginie’s Story


« As long as it is not clean, I will not get in this bus »
« You’re not afraid?! Why don’t you take a service instead? »
« The Number 4? I did not even know there was a bus that goes from Tayouneh to Hamra! »

Van 4 by Virginie Le Borgne

Yes, there is indeed a bus that links these two places. A bus, or rather a minibus, a sort of van, often a semblance of damaged car body, sometimes customized, which passes at top speed and then slams on the brakes to let two or three persons escape from it. More than one bus, there are even 300 of it that go through the town every day, ferrying passengers around from Dahieh to Hamra, from dawn to dusk, for 1000 LBP. I am sure you’ve already seen it—at least heard it…

——Its impatient drivers who insult the others around, hail the coffee seller to have their caffeine shot, reign over their own kingdom, and share easily their mood of the day with their neighbors in the cabin and sometimes even sing a song——

Van 4 Driver by Virginie Le Borgne

I get on the Number 4 almost every day. Because it is fast. Because it is cheap. Because its price is fixed so that you don’t have to renegotiate for ten minutes once arrived because there was a lot of traffic on the way. Because when I am in its den, I feel like I am an audience member of a movie in which the town passes before my eyes as well as my own life. Because it is still one of the best ways to have a good idea of the contradictions and evolutions of Beirut. Because it gives space to women, men, others. Because I could write about the multi-confessionalism that takes place in it, the gender mix and also the public transportation—the so-precious public transportation—that it symbolizes; but these words are now trite, having been used every time something is said about Beirut. So it would be better to let you form your own ideas . . .

Van 4 by Virginie Le Borgne

I’ve taken the Number 4 under the rain at 7 AM after a party, taking advantage of this bubble to complain to my friend about the complexity of human relationships. I’ve taken Van 4 at midnight, under a pale sky, leaving behind me on the sidewalk a man who did not dare kiss me. I’ve taken it in the summer, at 9 AM, praying that it would speed up so that I can be at my Arabic class on time.

Van 4 by Virginie Le Borgne

I’ve hated the “4” during the ten irregular minutes I had to wait for it at Tayouneh, while twenty services or so hurried to honk at me. I’ve loved the “4” all the time that remains.

I’ve hit my head a hundred times against its metallic roof while trying to extract myself from it once arrived. I’ve almost fallen while entering, when the impatient driver decided to start up again before reaching my seat. And I will carry on falling.

As long as Van 4 will run, I will get in it.

Van Number 4 by Virginie Le Borgne

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This #HerBus contribution was written and photographed by Virginie Le Borgne, a freelance journalist living in Beirut. You can follow her on Instagram.

Virginie’s story is part of an ongoing series highlighting the unique and complex experiences of women who use public transport in Lebanon. Do you have a story you want to share? We will post it with as much, or as little, editorial input as you request, to make sure that your voice is in the forefront. You can write in English, Arabic or French, and when appropriate, we will share a translation that sticks as closely as possible to the spirit of your story. Share an experience, keep it personal, make it academic, be creative — your city needs your voice!

#HerBus: ‘Sweat and Perfume’—Florence’s Story

The first time I was in Lebanon as an intern, I had very little money and therefore used buses to move around everyday. Which led a colleague of mine to make a “joke” I didn’t understand yet: “Only Syrians and French take the bus everyday. Because the Syrians are poor and the French are used to it.” And in fact, it’s true, French people are used to public transportation, especially if you live in a city, so I guess that was convenient for me and not weird at all. Plus, it’s insanely cheap compared to everything else in Lebanon. I realized only after everyone reacted like “Yiiiii? You take the bus everyday? You’re not scared?” that maybe it wasn’t customary here.

The hardest thing was actually for me to know which one to take, where to wait for it, and where it would go. I had plenty of adventures getting lost in unknown neighborhoods before I managed to have some indication on what to do. But the drivers, when it happened to me, were always very nice, getting someone to talk in English or French with me if they couldn’t, and helped me with a big smile, a cigarette and sometimes even candies. So no problem, except for being late to my destination.

Now, I can use taxis, uber and services, but I still take the bus when I want to go around in Lebanon, especially to the North, South and the Bekaa. These roads are faster if you take a crazy minivan, if you don’t fear for your life! I was involved in an accident once, but got only bruises and a big scare that didn’t prevent me from going in one the following week. Seriously, these guys can avoid the traffic like magic. I remember once, we were stuck in the traffic of Jounieh on a Saturday, and another van driver talked to ours, telling him to follow his way. Of course, it cut us a full hour of traffic, and our driver was so pleased, the two men kept singing each other love songs for the rest of the trip, it was hilarious and sweet at the same time.

As a woman alone, I actually feel safer sometimes on a bus than on a service, because you always get the best seat away from all the men. Everyone is always watching out for you, and no one will dare look at you in a weird way or say anything insulting. Actually, a man was following me once on a bus, trying to seat next to me, other men saw it happening and pushed him out at the next “stop”. So it’s always a good experience, if you can deal with the smells of sweat and perfume!

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Photo by Idrissa Mboup, taken as part of our Bus Map Photo Action last summer.

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This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting the unique and complex experiences of women who use public transport in Lebanon. Do you have a story you want to share? We will post it with as much, or as little, editorial input as you request, to make sure that your voice is in the forefront. You can write in English, Arabic or French, and when appropriate, we will share a translation that sticks as closely as possible to the spirit of your story. Share an experience, keep it personal, make it academic, be creative — your city needs your voice!