Buses have always been gross, but please wear a mask and wash your hands anyway

Little bus with big aspirations. Stay home and help others stay healthy if you can.

Someone has vomited on your bus

My second week on the job I was headed up to OHSU on the 8, on one of those cold, rainy mornings that can make the inside of the bus smell like the room of some wet mammal exhibit at the Zoo. Someone vomited on the bus, because guess what, a stuffy wet bus in January plus some morning sickness will do that to a person. Totally not her fault, but it happened. Also she was awesome because it all pretty much ended up in the trashcan.

Someone has peed on your bus

Driving the 75, heading east on Lombard through St. Johns, I picked up an older gentlemen. He sat up front and I kept driving down Lombard. Eventually it starts smelling really strongly of urine and just terrible smells. I crack open the window because I can barely take it. I started to wonder whether someone had gone to the bathroom on the bus, but sometimes people who haven’t gone to the bathroom on the bus smell that bad. I get to Interstate and I just can’t take it anymore. The old man hobbles off the bus and I notice his pants are wet, with one sneaker squishy and more wet than the other. I look back to where he sat, and there is a puddle. Urine. Called that into dispatch and I have to take a trip back to the garage to clean the bus.

Someone has pooped on your bus

Then there was the time someone left a puddle of diarrhea on the 12 when I was going up Sandy Boulevard towards Parkrose. At first I wasn’t sure it was poop, because sometimes people just smell really bad on the bus. It got worse though. Eventually a group of passengers get off and after they do a woman comes up to me.

I love the seats on the 2500s and their funky 90s aesthetic, I just try not to think about the germs.

Someone has bled on your bus

Bloody noses happen, whether it’s a little kid (lets be honest, adults with no manners too) who dug a little too deep trying to get those boogers out, or a addict who hit that nose candy a little too hard before getting on the bus. Then you have the cut lip, bruised cheek, I just got in a fight but I need to get out on this bus now to get away from the tweakers after me. That’s usually what it amounts to, nothing more than a paper towel or kleenex can’t handle.

NE Glisan and Cesar Chavez Boulevard, AKA 39th.

Yes there is probably semen on that bus too

Ok, I haven’t seen it personally. But have you heard of the TriMet barber? Loved snipping off driver’s hair and leaving semen on the bus. So it’s probably there somewhere. I’m not bringing a black light though, there’s just some things better left unknown.

Spit? Oh yes, there is spit

A wino fell over on my bus once because he was falling down drunk at 3 in the afternoon. He decided my face was a good place to spit on, and launched a loogey because it was my fault he has such a problem drinking he can’t stay standing up.


Yes there are boogers on the bus. One day I watched a grown man pick his nose and just flick the booger toward the floor. I’m not holding the kids I’ve seen digging for gold responsible. They are just children. But that adult, YOU ARE IN PUBLIC! Leave that mucus where it belongs!

Bare butts?

You’d be surprised how many people have a hard time holding up their pants or have pants that are too big for them, or butts that are too big for their pants. Bare ass has touched those vinyl seats, who knows if it was a clean rear?

Finger nail clippings?

Clip, clip, clip. Why yes, there is someone clipping nails on my bus. Why? Why are you clipping nails on the bus? Is the bus your bathroom? What if I came in your house or office or where ever and just started clipping my nails?

Yes, there has been animal poop too

One time I got on the bus and looked down and realized that someone had tracked dog (or at least I think it was dog, it’s hard to tell sometimes) poop onto the bus. I called dispatch and they said maintenance would meet me in enroute. Funny thing was, a trainer got on to give me a checkride (when trainers come and watch you drive to make sure you’re safe). I said watch out there’s poop there, but before they heard me, the trainer already stepped through it. Oh well.


Coffee, milk, beer, burritos, cheeseburgers, ketchup, Lucky Charms, milkshakes, whiskey, it’s all landed on the bus at some point. Now the real question is whether that brown stain on the seat is from coffee or chocolate or poop…

If there are so many disgusting things happening on the bus, why should I start commuting again? Why should I venture outside of my house? There are germs! And insects! And rats! What can I do to protect myself?

  1. Wash your hands!!!
Do your part and help out, we got this Portland!

You can do all these things!

Covid-19 will pass, the pandemic will be over, and life will sort of return to normal eventually. What will remain the same though is the bus will continue to be a pretty gross place. Wash your hands, don’t touch your face and you will probably be fine. And do you really want to know where that brown spot on the seat came from?



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Don Iler

Don Iler

I’m a public transit enthusiast in Portland, Oregon. I love public transportation, history and writing.