Public Bus As Urban Space

Tuesday, 17 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Amy HANSER, University of British Columbia, Canada
Drawing upon examples from North America, this paper will explore the public bus as a quintessential urban space, a space in which urban residents encounter social difference in close proximity. Drawing upon the ideas of scholars as varied as Geog Simmel, Iris Marion Young, Jane Jacobs, Lyn Lofland, and Robin Kelley, this paper will consider public bus as theatrical space, as a space where strangers encounter one another, and in particular as a space in which social difference is experienced in close proximity. Public buses are also social spaces that are transformed as they move through physical space of the city, are riders embark and disembark, and through time, as the rhythms of work, school and leisure all manifest themselves in the terms of numbers, composition and demeanor of bus riders. If city life embodies difference, as Iris Marion Young has argued, then the public bus offers an opportunity to consider how difference—strangers “being together”—is experienced in the most immediate and mundane ways.