Homeless In Anchorage Alaska Part 1: The Bus to Hell/Brother Francis Shelter Bus Stops

This sign in the picture above is on the fence at the bus stop about one block from Brother Francis Shelter, the arriving stop. The owner of the property there for a long time collected empty booze bottles and attached them to the fence at the bus stop. Recently they were all removed. Now we have two signs instead. I have no idea who wrote this, but the property owner is one of the candidates. I will often refer to the #45 bus as the bus to hell and on Sundays when the buses don't run very late I'll say, "All aboard the last bus to hell", but it was not me who wrote this. The bus to hell is often packed with people like a sardine can, but they recently added some new runs which has helped. The bus is still packed at certain times. There can be intoxicants causing problems and then there are all of us homeless people with our stuff, backpacks, suitcases, garbage bags, other kinds of bags and containers. This is especially true of people who have disabilities and are unable to participate in the 'Inhouse' program at Brother Francis Shelter which would allow a locker, leaving stuff in storage, getting to sleep in the dorm instead of a mat on the floor (but the women's dorm has a bedbug problem, so no thanks) and more time at the shelter during the day. For some of us  a good part of the reason we are not participating is due to bullying, retaliation and massive dysfunction. It is also true for those who were targeted by the serial bullies and/or are unable to get what they need from the "case managers', which is a large percentage of the "clients."

Bus stop to Hell.
Above is the bus stop with the plywood attached to the fence. This sign below is also on the fence which is why I think the property owner may have written the hell message. He has valid complaints, but his ideas for the solution I disagree with. They now have people picking up garbage around the properties close to the shelter, so its cleaner than when I first arrived.

The first bus out of hell in the morning week days runs around 6:20 AM, on the weekends it is much later because there is a very limited bus schedule so I end up dragging my suitcase downtown while wearing a heavy backpack. The wheels on those suitcases last about three weeks if dragged around a lot which is why I started taking buses more.

I stood at the bus stop in front of the shelter for months breathing second hand smoke, listening to fighting and having people ask me for things, water, cigarettes, money etc. There is also lots of crazy stuff going on and then close by people sleeping on the ground. There are people gathered at the bus stop for some unknown reason who are not waiting to ride. The behavior of some make that stop a miserable place. It is also filthy due to vomit, spitting, stuff spilled all over. Apparently steam cleaners are rare in Alaska, who knew? Just recently they found out about them at the downtown bus transit. It's gross and was a lot worse due to garbage, but they are doing a much better job of picking that up.

I decided to walk down past Bean's Cafe and try that stop. There was just me and a nice Native guy there for a while, now another Native guy is there sometimes. There are people sleeping on the ground on the way to the stop and they often say a pleasant hello. A nice lady, a Native elder yesterday morning told me I looked beautiful as I walked to the bus stop. I don't look beautiful, but it was so nice to have someone say something so sweet to me after spending the night in hell. It was 1000 times better than "Do you have $5, I'm really hung over."

The crappy picture above is towards the bus stop in front of Brother Francis Shelter. I could never find a time when there were not people there so I could get a picture. It has been cleaned up some, when I first got to the shelter in March and for quite some time afterwards it was really nasty. 

These are Chechs pulling a prank, but that is what route 45, the bus to hell feels like sometimes.  

I have ME/cfs and Hashimotos along with other issues, but those two are massively fatiguing and it is actually (as I have found out the hard way over a long period of time) dangerous to expose oneself to doctors in this state with these diagnoses. The problem with the packed bus and having to bring your stuff everywhere you go besides it just being exhausting and making everything very difficult, even walking, is having to find a spot on the bus it will fit. If the bus has a low number of people, no problem, but the 45 is often packed. Even if you find a spot you may have a filthy, drunk person with a very dirty backpack sit next to you with their stuff against yours or your body. I have many times been on a bus with three women who have suitcases (including me) with people standing in the isle. One time it was like that in the evening on the bus to hell and the bus driver let four very intoxicated people who were swaying all over with huge backpacks on the bus. Another time at the bus stop to hell there were people waiting at the stop and they began boarding the bus as I was getting off with my suitcase. I was close to the front and there were people standing all along the aisle to the back door. The front was the only exit I could use. The female bus driver yells for them to wait to get on the bus, "I had no idea someone with a suitcase, WOULD go out the front door." What bus are you on Ms. Bus Driver? Yes that wasn't the name I was thinking at the time. There are some wonderful bus drivers and then there are some asshats. I actually got off a bus today to get away from one.

A couple days ago I got on the bus in the morning and then it stops at BFS. There are often walkers, wheel chairs and then all of us people with our crap. Everyone has a right to ride the bus and of course, this is what we want. There are sideways seats in the front and they are designed to go up for W/Cs etc. It works out well to sit there with suitcases and strollers. The area is used by everyone, but disabled and seniors are supposed to be allowed to have the area if they show up. I am on disability, but mobility issues are the first concern. I met a tourist from France who was very impressed that W/Cs went on the buses, "Not poss-e-bull in France."

My constant companions.
The bus stopped at BFS and I did not see the W/C until it started to come on the bus. I got up to let them have room and to keep the wheels etc. from rubbing on my suitcase. The W/C was on one side and the bus driver got in the isle so I could not move. The wheels of everything that goes through the property of BFS go through puke, spit and who knows what all, that includes our rolling suitcases. The wheels of the W/C rubbed into my suitcase and against my legs. What the bus driver should have done when he got up was asked me to move until they were situated which is what I would normally do if whatever cart or W/C is really wide. I now go to the back of the bus and stood by the door for two days, then this morning sat in the back.

One morning when I got on the bus I just headed to the back of the bus and nice people tried to get me to sit in the front saying there was room. I told them it would not work as there was going to be a wheel chair at the next stop. There was a W/C and lots of people with stuff. That stop takes a long time due to people with issues who are very slow to even put money in the machine and people with all their stuff. I always think the bus driver must be very happy on Wednesday because seniors ride for free and just get on. Before I got halfway to the back with a heavy backpack on and trying to move a suitcase down a narrow isle the bus driver started rolling the bus and I almost fell, this actually happens daily on different buses. When I got to the back and grabbed the pole I said, "Thank you so much Mr. Asshole bus driver, wish I could walk, but no I have to take a fucking suitcase with me everywhere I go."

I did complain to People Mover including the filthy bus seats and some of the crazy that goes on. The
next day the floor of the bus had been cleaned. I also explained how we have no choice, but bring suitcases on the bus due to how homeless people in Anchorage are treated by Catholic Social Services and the city of Anchorage. Of course we are the least happy about it of anyone. We are trapped.

From the bus stop on the other side of Bean's Cafe I use.

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