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The Television on the Bus Goes On and On

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Buses are now equipped with full news coverage, no matter how violent the content.
I think this bus trend should stop.


Momlogic's Momstrosity: Over the holiday weekend I decided to take my 3-year-old daughter to meet Santa out at the mall. In order to avoid the parking hassles, I decided to take the bus. I personally love public transportation. I love the community of it. I love the freedom of not having a car to deal with -- not to mention not contributing to pollution. When I lived in San Francisco, I didn't even have a car. Unfortunately, now I live in L.A. and it's a necessity. It was the first time I'd taken a bus in the four years I've lived here.

Turns out buses are very different these days, at least the ones in L.A., and are all now equipped with televisions. The bus my daughter and I were on had four of them staggered from front to back. I wasn't too pleased to have TV on the bus -- at our house, the television is rarely on, and when it is, we watch videos. But I've come to accept the pervasiveness of the boob tube.

What made me fume was when the news portion of what's called Transit TV came on and the newscaster announced:

"Manhunt still ongoing for the killer of the 6-year-old girl who was shot in her bed on Thanksgiving."

OK, great, so now here I am riding with my impressionable child on a whimsical trip to meet Santy, and we get to listen to how a kindergartner was shot at point-blank range in her own home ... and guess what, kids? He's STILL at large. Merry Christmas!

Talk about a captive audience. What was I supposed to do? Leap off the bus?

If we had been at home, I would've immediately changed the channel or turned off the TV. But on a bus, we were trapped. Quickly, I distracted her with an impromptu game of "Count How Many Red Cars You See." It worked. But I resented having to be put in that position in the first place.

Look, I know I can't protect my kid forever from the evils of this world, but she's only three and a half. Should I let her watch the evening news??!

I want to continue to take public transportation, but at the same time, I don't want to expose my little one to things that might scare the s**t out of her. Sounds reasonable, right? Wrong. When I spoke to Mounir Ibrahim, one of the owners of Transit TV, the company responsible for public transportation TV across the country, he told me I was the only person who has ever complained about the broadcast content. EVER. Out of the over 10 million people who ride on buses equipped with Transit TV systems in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Orlando, and Milwaukee. "We cannot shield everybody from everything," he told me matter-of-factly, and insisted the content on the buses is "squeaky clean."

Does that mean Mounir is going to stay up with my kid when she starts having nightmares of being shot in bed? Or do I just not take public transit if I don't want my kid exposed to disturbing news coverage?

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4 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kristen December 2, 2009, 5:30 AM

I agree this is OUTRAGEOUS. I hate how pervasive the television has become, it’s disgusting. We do not have a tv in our home and our lives are better for it. I agree with not being able to always protect our kids but come on, until they are at least 10 to 12yrs old they shouldln’t have to be exposed to this kind of garbage.

Sara December 2, 2009, 7:33 AM

I’ve never understood parents who feel that they must shelter their kids from the news. Being informed of what’s going on in the world is not a bad thing.

And a bus is hardly a movie theater, it’s not like you couldn’t of talked to your child or looked out the window.

Ed December 3, 2009, 6:10 AM

“Does that mean Mounir is going to stay up with my kid when she starts having nightmares of being shot in bed? Or do I just not take public transit if I don’t want my kid exposed to disturbing news coverage? “
Bring a book for her to look at. You cannot expect everyone to make adjustments to fit you. I’m sure that some of the bus riders get annoyed at your kid being on the bus too. If you want to “control” your kid’s environment, then drive a car. The world doesn’t care about your kid…Transit TV is trying to make money with the TVs and I’m sure that 99% of the riders enjoy it and don’t have the option to drive a car. Times have changes in the 4 years since you rode the bus. Your trip to the mall on the bus was an option that you chose so maybe you should blame yourself and drive next time and stop complaining.

Rachel December 3, 2009, 11:10 AM

I agree with Ed. To elaborate a bit, you sound a wee bit entitled to me. You had the option, as you mentioned, to take your personal vehicle, but chose not to for the sake of convenience. There are people who rely completely on public transportation, many of whom do so out of necessity, not because of the environment, blah blah. I think it’s great that there is news coverage on public buses. People who might not see the news otherwise (maybe they don’t have a television at home) can stay up on the events of the world. I believe the guy at Transit TV. I think you’re being difficult. If the world is too rough for your child, keep her at home!

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