I was riding a Whatcom Transit Authority bus, on my way to teach at Western Washington University, when I overheard a student say that she was going to campus early because she had nothing better to do. Her seat mate commented that she could ride the bus until it was time for her class. And that made me think, “I could ride the bus and do a Write Out on it.”

After all, there’s no better place to come across a new batch of colorful characters than a city bus. Unless it’s a writers’ meeting, or a classroom, or a coffee shop, or an open mic. Or other places. So, I decided to give it a shot.

Here are the standard details for the WTA Bus:

Address: No fixed address. I caught it at 14th and Harris, in Fairhaven
WiFi: none
Music: none allowed
Tables: none, but numerous seats
Outlets: none
Clientele: local
Gluten-free options: no food allowed
Hours: 6:30ish am-10:45ish M-F, slightly shorter hours Sat-Sun
12-oz cappuccino cost: no beverages allowed
Time allowed: 2+ hours, but you might have to stand part of the time
Parking: $1 to park your butt; you can park your bike on the front of the bus for free
Loyalty card: no, but you can buy a monthly pass for $25
Website: http://www.ridewta.com/

If you enjoy the hubbub of a busy café, without being required to smell coffee or be tempted to drink it, the WTA is your place. It’s easy to begin a Write Out on the WTA. I, for example, walked half a block to my usual stop, swiped my bus pass, and commenced the Write Out.

009 WTA bus stop

the view from my stop


You’ll have to do your Writing Out without notes, as taking up a seat with your papers would be frowned upon once the bus fills. One suggestion I came up with myself would be to apply double-sided tape to the bottom of your laptop, as I noticed a tendency for my laptop to slide off my legs when the bus stopped, which was a fairly common occurrence. Try to get the tape that comes off easily.

I found that, whenever a passenger sat beside me, said passenger often asked what I was doing. It was obvious that I was typing on my laptop, but I intuited that the question really was, “What are you writing?” So, I handed over my laptop for the passengers to read my work, which cut into my actual writing time and tended to break my train of thought. Or bus of thought, I guess.

In the evening, the driver turned on the interior lights. This move caused glare on my screen and made it a bit harder to work. Therefore, I suggest that you buy a laptop with a matte screen before you attempt a Write Out on the WTA.

When passenger traffic slowed in the evening, and I was the only rider (and writer) aboard, the driver kept looking up in the mirror to see what I was doing. I was never actually asked why I was riding the bus for hours on end, so that was a missed opportunity to promote my work.

I was glad there was no coffee allowed, because coffee usually means an eventual trip to the restroom, and WTA buses do not come equipped with restrooms. I was able to keep my seat much longer by allowing controlled dehydration to set in. What finally forced me off the bus was the food ban. Fortunately for me, when I got off the bus at the Railroad Station (ironic), I was able to trot over to AB Crepes and eat. I could have taken the bus home from there, but I was tired of riding the bus. So I walked home.

Always look behind you when you exit your seat, to ensure that you forgot nothing.


choosing the perfect seat is essential


The WTA now has a small fleet of hybrid buses, so if you start your Write Out at the Railroad Station, you can choose a route with a hybrid in service. That way, you’ll be contributing to the environment’s well-being.


This Write Out experience, which I won’t repeat, but which you might love, reminds me of another Write Out I did, so here it is:

Standard details for Sitting in a Doctor’s Waiting Room:

Address: It depends on who your doctor is
WiFi: none, probably
Music: elevator music
Tables: none, except to hold old magazines
Outlets: depends
Clientele: sick people
Gluten-free options: I recommend that you not eat there
Hours: inconvenient
12-oz cappuccino cost: no beverages allowed, usually, but sometimes there’s water or weak coffee
Time allowed: 2-5 hours minimum, but you might have to stand part of the time
Parking: usually free in your doctor’s lot
Loyalty card: no, but your insurance card is sort of a loyalty card
Website: varies

This Write Out creeped me out. People were coughing, sneezing, and blowing their noses. The only thing keeping me from their bugs was a surgical mask (see photo).

I simply have a hard time recommending your doctor’s waiting room as a voluntary Write Out venue. My apologies to all of the doctors who were hoping to have writers visit as an attraction to help sick people kill time.

009 Doctor's Office me

some offices offer free masks


And what have I accomplished since Saturday, between my Writing In and my Writing Out? More editing on the novel thing. That’s about all, because I spent a lot of time concocting this elaborate April Fool’s joke for you.

What have you written this week? Talk to you soon!

3 thoughts on “Write Out on the WTA Bus

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