Along for the Ride

Stories from the drunk bus

By Hannah Olson

Stepping onto the Moonlight Express just shy of 11:00 pm, a lingering odor of vomit and poor choices greets me. There’s an Instagram-worthy aesthetic, three red vomit buckets all in a row, their hue complementing the red pleather seats. I prepare myself for a long night.

Moments later, a passenger enters and describes it as, “A nice-ass bus. It’s got leather seats — and are these throw-up buckets? Man, that’s nice.” Must be an advertising major.
The vomit pails are crusty and likely often used, due to the demographic and the CyRide drivers’ inability to avoid potholes and curbs.

The Moonlight Express is a free transportation option provided to students by CyRide that runs from 10:30 p.m. until 3:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. It is a safe alternative to drunk driving or walking home in the dark, and is a cheap option compared to Uber.

Sam Greene/ Ethos Magazine

The bus pulls to a stop outside of Buchanan Hall where a group of students are gathered. Only one of them, the drunkest of them all, enters the bus, with his entourage giving him thumbs up and waving goodbye to him like he was their child off to his first day of preschool. He exits the bus one stop later.

“Want me to auctioneer over the mic?”

I look up as a man, clad in a Trump-Pence shirt and camouflage, proceeds to prove his talent by auctioning off an undetermined object. The other passengers seem disinterested. The CyRide driver bears a look that says, “This shit happens every day.”

When I inquire about the bus’ microphone usage policy, the bus driver says, “I don’t care if they make themselves look like idiots, that’s on them.”

He adds, “I’ve had lots of people rap on my bus, I’ve had a lot of people attempt to sing — they were horrible.”

A girl enters the bus with a Jimmy John’s sub swaddled like a baby. She sat for a few stops just looking at it lovingly. The bus came to an abrupt stop and the sandwich flew from her grip as she looked on in horror.

“Shit,” she says, looking dismayed.
“I gotchu.”

A boy in a snapback and a Patagonia jacket hands her the sandwich and their eyes meet. A love story for the ages.

After 25 minutes or so, we reach the end of the line a second time and the driver comes to the back to inform me that I need to have a destination to ride the bus.

After I explain to the driver that I’m observing drunks for an article he asks, “Do you want a graphic story, or a funny story?”

He begins with graphic, and describes a night where he had to reprimand a guy trying to get a blowjob on the bus.

“Is that what I think is going on? No. It can’t be. No… not on the bus!”

When he first noticed, he continued driving, but eventually had to pull over.

“Is this guy really trying to get head right now? On the bus?”
“That blew my mind, I don’t know why she put up with it that long.”

You heard it here first ladies — Cyride driver says if your man tries to get head on the drunk bus, you should get a new man.

But passion on the drunk bus appears in many forms. There used to be a rule that people couldn’t eat on the Moonlight Express, which is no longer enforced.

A few years back, a group of students entered the bus near Welch Avenue, all holding burritos. The driver asked them to put their burritos away. All but one complied.

“Please, put the burrito away,” he asked, a second and third time.
The student briefly put the burrito in his pocket, but began taking secretive nibbles whenever the driver turned his back. He might’ve gotten away with it too, had it not been for the meddling burrito narcs who began yelling, “He’s eating, he’s eating!”

After asking him to put his burrito away six times, the driver stopped the bus and asked him to come to the front of the bus, where he grabbed his burrito and threw it away.

“He got really mad at me — I would have too,” he said.

The angry burrito guy began to threaten the bus driver and the other passengers.

Sam Greene/ Ethos Magazine

This was the final straw for the Cyride driver. He marched to the back of the bus and said:
“If you say anything to anyone else on this bus again I will throw you off this bus — do you understand?”

“Yes, I’m sorry… I love you.”

Around 1:30 a.m., the bus dynamic begins to mellow when a drunken idiot in a grey shirt is ushered on by his friends. He grabs onto the hand rails across the aisles and stands straddling them, his head dropping, looking like the crucified Christ. He then topples onto his friend, giving him a brief and unwelcomed lap dance.

The evening comes full circle as the bus drove past someone pulled over for a DUI. Crucified Christ runs and presses his face and upward-pointing middle finger to the glass.

“Fuck the police!” he yells.

The girl who was pulled over is trying to walk a straight line, while inside the bus three drunk girls with Jimmy John’s subs are commentating:

“She got a DUI motherfucker!”
“Take the fucking bus, you bitch!”
“I’m so glad that’s not me.”

Driving under the influence is a huge problem and the Moonlight Express provides a safe– albeit strange alternative.

No matter how obnoxious the drunks on the bus are, they’d be more dangerous in cars.

So next time you’re looking for entertainment or need a safe ride home on a Saturday, remember: Take the fucking bus, you bitch.