For the uninitiated, riding a Metro Transit bus can be intimidating and scary. Passengers sit next to strangers of all ages going to all kinds of places for all kinds of reasons.
That’s exactly what makes riding the bus fun and cool, said Tane Danger, a frequent bus rider who is best known locally as the improv comedian who founded the Theater of Public Policy.
In his most recent act, Danger has teamed up with Metro Transit to create a new web series, “Hey! Where Does This Bus Go?” to take the mystery out of bus riding, confront biases, and, of course, entice people to ride.
“I recoil at the notion that the only people who take the bus are people who have no other option or no other choice,” Danger said.
Danger rode the Route 23H at 7 a.m. on a weekday from Uptown in Minneapolis to Highland Park in St. Paul for the debut episode posted last month at metrotransit.org/where. In the second episode, he took a southbound evening rush hour ride No. 6 from downtown Minneapolis to the Fuddruckers in Richfield.
“Who knew there is a bus that goes to Fuddruckers?” he said.
It’s those oddities Danger points out as he chats with teachers, students, professionals and those who take the bus to complete tasks of everyday life. He asks riders why they like the bus, and for levity throws in offbeat questions such as, if their bus route were a hot dish, what kind would it be? He queried a bus driver, wondering if she could use her bus-mounted phone to order pizza. (No.)
He also spoke with one guy who took the No. 6 to a liquor store, and in what Danger described as a “pro-level bus move,” the man caught the same bus on its return trip.
That encounter didn’t make the video — there was a little language problem — but it illustrates how everything is unscripted and unrehearsed, sort like what happens on any trip on the bus.
“It’s all real riders,” Danger said. “It’s not the perfect sound bites, but that makes it believable.”
Last year, transit systems in Vancouver and Toronto hired Canadian actor Seth Rogen to record onboard announcements about transit etiquette. (They’ve since been discontinued in Toronto.) Danger wondered which celebrity would be hired for the same job in Minnesota. Former Gov. Jesse Ventura? That thought morphed into the idea for a web series featuring Metro Transit routes, showcasing the places they go and the interactions and experiences people have on the bus. Danger tweeted out the idea. Kathy Graul, Metro Transit’s social media strategist, who was familiar with Danger’s comedy work, saw it and got on board.
“I thought it was a great fit to partner with him on this,” she said.
Graul admitted she was nervous about how riders might respond to having a camera crew on the bus. Some shied away, she said. Others, however, were quite loquacious. One woman divulged that she became Facebook friends with her driver.
Danger gets paid $500 for each episode, and more are planned. Riders have been putting in requests for their route to be next, Graul said.
“We are overwhelmed with how much people love it,” she said. “Tane’s charm and humor most definitely have a role in making it work.”
Danger is looking at Route 21. He hopes Kevin Kling, who wrote the acclaimed play “21A” about eight people on the Lake Street bus, might make an appearance.
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