A group of strangers have built a friendship on a Seattle Metro bus. The group, known as the “Back of the Bus Club”, formed 25 years ago, its member’s complete strangers sharing one thing in common: a King County bus route out of Burien on the number 132 bus.
One of the members, Jim Canterbury, tells that the friendship began with simple conversation. “We just started conversing and talking,” he said.
In one conversation 25 years ago, Canterbury mentioned his upcoming birthday, and the group had a small party on the bus to celebrate.
Their energy was infectious and caught the attention of other bus riders. One rider, Edie Burke tells of how she joined the group. “They were laughing and enjoying each other’s company. So, I slowly started sitting closer and closer until I was accepted into the group.”
Now, 25 years later, this group of former strangers are close friends. The group has around 20 members, including spouses. Throughout the years, they have created a strong support network, celebrating the births of grandchildren and supporting each other through illness. They also spend time with one another outside of the bus, having monthly dinners and a Christmas party.
The group’s bond has made them almost like family. “We’re together at least an hour and a half a day,” one member Beverly Cawley said. This has helped them strengthen their bond. “Most people don’t spend that much time talking with their family. That’s how we got to be so close.”
While some riders have complained about the group, wanting a quieter bus ride, the members have been unfazed. They believe that the complainers are missing out on meaningful human interaction.
Edie Burke said that the friendship with other passengers adds to the experience of riding the bus. “It doesn’t have to just be a commute,” she commented. “You can actually have fun and make friends.”