One of the more difficult things about living in France is trying to figure out how to get around the city. Unlike Kansas City, most people use public transportation. There is the metro, the bus, the tram and bikes.
The other day I got a bit lost. It took me two hours to get back to the university and it should have only taken 15-20 minutes. At 1:30 my friend and I decided to head back to the university. We waited at a bus stop for a while. According to the schedule it was supposed to come at 1:45 and 2:00, but it was 2:05 and the bus still hadn’t come. So I decided to go to a different stop. I walked to the next stop and got on the bus. After a few minutes I realized it was going in the wrong direction. I got off the bus and walked to a stop that had a bus going the right way. After waiting for a while, I finally got on the right bus. The bus I was on doesn’t go all the way to the university, so I got on a tram to take me the last few miles. After riding on the tram for a little bit, the driver informed us that we had to stop because there was a protest in the street. I walked the rest of the way and finally got to the university.
Now that I have thoroughly explored public transportation in Lyon, I will give some advice.
The bus. When taking the bus there are several important things to keep in mind. Firstly, you must make sure that you know which bus to take, and which direction you need to go. There is nothing worse than realizing that you’re going the wrong direction after riding the bus for ten minutes. Secondly, when waiting to get on a bus, you have to waive at the driver as the bus comes toward you. If you don’t the bus might not stop. Thirdly, you must know how to get off the bus. There are red buttons all around around the bus. In order for the bus to actually stop at the next stop, you have to push the red button. If no one presses the red button, and no one waives at the bus driver, the bus will just skip that stop.
The metro. Just like the bus, you must make sure you are going in the right direction. When the light flashes and the noise sounds, the train doors are going to close even if there is someone in the way. Hold on to the handles if you are standing, the ride is usually bumpy. If the train fills up, you should give your seat to a person who is older or pregnant or has kids. It’s not obligatory but it’s polite and most people do it. Also, if you get motion sickness, do not sit in the backward facing seats. Trust me, it makes it worse.
Vélo’v . There is a public bike renting company in Lyon called Vélo’v. Vélo is the French word for bike and the company name is a combination of the words Vélo and love ( Vélo’v is pronounced vay-love.) It is very easy to do and a great alternative to walking. The only thing that is a little bit difficult is getting the bike back into the station. The light around the button should turn green and it should beep twice. If you don’t put it back correctly, you may continue to be charged for using it. If someone else takes it you will have to pay 150 Euros for a new one.
All in all the public transportation in Lyon is quite useful…as long as you know how to use it.