I have recently become a fan of the Geneva public transport system


            I have recently become a fan of the Geneva public transport system, perhaps too late, but better late than never. In particular, I find taking the new 27 bus line from Carouge to Cornavin an absolute delight. There are plenty of pros and cons and valid criticisms of Mme. Kunzler and the TPG changes, but for me, when I am not in a hurry, the 27 is ideal.

            The 27 leaves on time every 15 minutes from Carouge, with so few passengers that I have the feeling I have my own chauffeur. I have more than enough time to read my morning paper as the driver waits patiently to cross the Wilsdorf Bridge. For the passengers who calculate the exact 20 minutes from Carouge to the train station as advertised, they should have realized, like the TPG that this would never happen. But for the relaxed, well-informed passenger like me, there is much to do in the 30 odd minutes from door to door.


            My most striking discovery, after having read the essence of the morning news and watched the traffic creep across the Wilsdorf Bridge, is the busdrivers’ salute. Every time a bus comes in the opposite direction, the drivers hold up a hand and smile at their colleagues. When I first witnessed this, I was worried that there would be an accident since both drivers had only one hand on the steering wheel. But then I came to realize that this was something done not only on the 27 line, but on the other lines in Geneva I am discovering. While I cannot verify that this practice exists all over Geneva, I have witnessed this phenomenon enough to say that it is a common practice.

            In my professional career, I have rarely if ever seen colleagues smile and wave to each other every time they cross paths. I have seen colleagues avoid each other, scream at each other, throw things at each other, plot to have colleagues fired, etc., but never this type of corporate solidarity if not genuine friendship. It is most impressive, and seems downright spontaneous. Why it is so remains a mystery that I will perhaps discuss with my private chauffeur as I sit alone in the 27 in the morning in Carouge. But I hesitate to do so since I might get the drivers in trouble for breaking some safety rule – as I hesitated for the same reason to write this column. Or, I might discover that they are forced to do this by some union rules.

            So while passengers complain about the missing the old 13 tram and criticize the new 27, I patiently sit on the bus, read my newspaper, observe the world while the traffic slowly crosses the Wilsdorf Bridge, and admire the camaraderie of the busdrivers and their salute. What a wonderful way to start each day.

May 13, 2013

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