The start of the school year has been characterized by a series of new experiences — back to learning in the classroom, live conversations with people and learning to read facial expressions through masks. But perhaps none of these experiences have been as awkward, frustrating and unforgettable as learning to use the new transit bus pass machines.
Since Saskatoon Transit first introduced mobile ticketing over the summer, when students were on break, this is the first time many of us are using the system. People can now use their cell phones to purchase bus passes and tickets on the Transit app, then scan the pass on their phones when boarding the bus.
After a few tries at the new system, I realized that there were hidden life lessons waiting to be learned.
First is a reminder that patience always matters.
Returning back to school after a year of online learning will require us to practice patience, with ourselves and others, many times over. We might as well start with the bus, right?
While the mobile pass is just as fast as scanning our student passes, as we used to do, it can often feel like a lifetime standing in front of the scanner, positioning and repositioning your phone at just the right angle to get it to work. Sometimes, your phone has gone to sleep or you’ve completely missed the scanning mark and need some help from those around you.
Being patient and waiting for the scanner to do its job rather than constantly moving our phones around would go a long way and giving passengers new to the system a reassuring smile would also help.
Often, I’ve seen bus drivers and fellow passengers help people through the process — a huge thank you to everyone who shows some much needed patience.
Second, the mobile ticketing system reminds us that learning something new takes time and isn’t always easy.
When I first started using the Transit app, it wasn’t exactly a smooth ride — it took me a while to remember to have my phone charged when I left home, unlocked when I was boarding the bus and at just the right height for the scanner.
Yet, after a few uses, it’s almost become second nature.
While this is a simple example, it powerfully illustrates that learning is not something that happens on the first go. Rather, it is a process that will look different for each of us. It may also involve frustration and challenges, but those emotions too are part of the process.
Lastly, the new system reminds us that change is an important part of life.
I’ve been a regular user of Saskatoon Transit for over 10 years now, and in that time, the method of fare payment has changed — from paper tickets, to plastic cards to the current mobile system.
This progression reminds me that we, along with our communities, must try new ways to do the same things. Change welcomes innovation, fosters creativity and may pave a path for us to make existing systems better.
Right after the first day of classes, I went to line up at the USSU office to renew my bus pass card, as I had done for all my years at university. When the friendly staff member told me it was all on my phone now, and pushed forward an instruction panel, I was surprised.
And what a pleasant, much needed, surprise to start off the school year with.
This op-ed was written by a University of Saskatchewan undergraduate student and reflects the views and opinions of the writer. If you would like to write a reply, please email email@example.com. Vaidehee Lanke is a fourth-year undergraduate student studying bioinformatics and is the Opinions Editor at The Sheaf Publishing Society.