Galway public transport: it’s better than you think

A look at the difference’s between the public transportation services between the Brazilian metropolois of Sao Paulo and Galway.

Everybody is always saying that the bus service in Galway is confusing and ineffective. True, I have been late to commitments more than once because the bus was delayed. Sometimes over 40 minutes late. And of course, that’s annoying. However, I come from São Paulo, a very big city in Brazil, and can’t help but notice a few differences in the experience of using the public transport.

In São Paulo, a city with over 12 million people, the bus service can be described as many things, but lateness is not the first thing that comes to mind. There are many buses going to the same destination that pass by the same stops by the minute because of the amount of people that need the public transport. There will always be a bus coming up next, so missing one is not that big a deal.

However, it also means that commuting in the morning and late-afternoon is rough. Between 8 and 10 am and 5 and 7 pm, brace yourself: 7,8 million people use the public transport in São Paulo every day, so more than half the population will be commuting with you. Whether you’re taking the bus, the train or the tube, it’ll be crowded. There are times when you can’t even see where you’re going, you just get dragged along by the crowd and trust that eventually you’ll be on the right train.

I will admit that the public transport in São Paulo is decent. It’s consistent and it works. Most of the time. When it rains, though, it all comes crashing down. The trains are delayed and become even more crowded than usual and the traffic jam makes it unbearable to ride the bus. It’s uncanny: the minute a little rain starts to come down, you just know it’ll be a long journey back home. The city has no infrastructure for rainy days, and it actually rains a lot in São Paulo. The city is known as “the city of drizzle” and we do get some pretty heavy rain during the summer. So, picture this: it’s 30 degrees and you’re crammed inside a bus stuck in traffic jam for hours. That’s right: hours. Often the air conditioning isn’t working, so you are basically melting.

Unfortunately, in São Paulo the worst part about public transport is not the overly crowded trains or the infrastructure flaws. It’s sexual harassment and uninvited groping. When you’re crammed in a tight space with hundreds of people, some of those people find it a good opportunity to touch women without their consent. Sometimes, they think it’s a good idea to touch themselves while looking at a woman in the public transport.

A study conducted in São Paulo in 2018 showed that 1 in every 4 women have suffered sexual abuse in the public transport. As a matter of fact, in September 2017 a man who had already been convicted for other sexual crimes, ejaculated on a woman’s neck inside the bus. He was arrested but release the next day, only to commit the same act a week later.

Last year, the Brazilian government has approved a project to change the Criminal Code and turn “sexual harassment in public spaces” an official crime that can lead to up to 5 years of jail time.

Needless to say, that although I may be a bit annoyed with the buses delays at times, when I ride the bus in Galway, I’m in heaven.

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