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- Fifty cents goes a long way – It’s amazing that you can get all the way to Tula on $0.50. Another amazing thing is that there is someone willing to take you there. If you are interested in seeing the island you can actually ride from Tula to Pago then from Pago to Tafuna then from Tafuna out to Poloa if you like. It might cost you a little more than fifty cents but it is worth the ride.
- Music is king – Arguably, the most often played song on the busses in Samoa is “E Fasia o le Gata” by Five Star. The extravagant sound systems in these busses makes riding a cultural experience as well as a way to get from A to B. Sure you can pass up one of these busses and get on the R&B bus. But if it is your first time, take the Samoan music bus.
- Capitalism is alive in Samoa – It is fabulous to see that a little ambition can go a long way. The transit system is privately operated. The drivers usually own their own bus and profits go directly to provide for their families. There are no major government regulations to bog down the system with unnecessary bureaucracy. The market determines the amount of busses. I don’t think capitalism functions this well in the states.
- It’s OK to wait for the next bus – If a bus is approaching and you see a bunch of people wearing white coats, let that bus go by and wait for the next. Why? Just trust me on this one.
- No bus stop but you can stop the bus – Why people don’t wait together is an enigma. The frequent stops to pick up passengers 30 yards apart always puzzled me. But isn’t it convenient that you can get on wherever you want?
- Tap your quarter to get off – How the driver hears that little tap of the quarter on the window with the music blasting is uncanny. Seriously, the only way it is possible is because he knows that sound is what he’s going to buy dinner with that night.
- Pay when you get off – Trust system is still used. It is very easy to hop off the bus and not pay. Even after a long ride. One thing to remember though, it’s a small island. He’ll remember you and if you do it too often you may need to start walking wherever you go, cause no one will pick you up.
- Available seating – This is the best thing I learned! I remember cruising along in a bus. I saw a teenager suddenly jump up from his seat and sit in the back. He squeezed in with some other people. Not because he knew them, not because he wanted to sit in the back either, it was because he saw that an elderly person was going to get on the bus. On a bus in the states it is common to see a sign at the front of the bus that says something like “Please make these seats available for Senior citizens and handicaps.” No sign is ever needed in Samoa. Malo Samoa!