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Bus Ridin' Man

By Evo in Culture
Tue Sep 11, 2001 at 05:35:53 AM EST
Tags: Humour (all tags)

Two weeks ago, I decided to abandon my simple 20-minute personal commute to work and start riding the bus. Now I get up an hour earlier to start and stop at the same locations. Why, you ask? So did everyone else.

First my loving wife. "Sean called and wants to know if you're riding together tomorrow." she said.

"Nope." Said I. "Starting tomorrow, I'm taking the bus."

A look of incredulity crept over her face. "What?" She quizzically asked, followed by the obligatory "Why?"

I offered a variety of reasons, from the 4000-mile trip we had just taken on my leased car to the much more meaningful environmental benefits of mass transit. But that look of perceived insanity never left her eyes. And she turned introspective.

"You're not going to do that when NJ starts school, are you?" He's almost 10 now, and completely capable of getting himself ready and off to school in the mornings. He did it all last year, unbeknownst to her because she left for work in the wee hours. The conversation remains unresolved.

Our friends across the street had another perspective. "What the hell is wrong with your car?"

"Nothing," I said... unless you count the miles I racked up last week.

"How long are you going to do this?" they asked. I didn't have an answer. I really don't know. I wasn't aware that these decisions had to have an end-date.

From the 72 year-old man who lives a few doors down, a man who can recall the impact of the great depression yet now lives in ample luxury, "Are you all right?"

Now how do answer that? I just laughed and continued walking. Somehow, I knew I wouldn't be able to explain it to him if I had wanted.

One of my employees who lives near my house came in today and offered me a place in her and her husbands car on their way to work. I politely declined, stating that I already had one abandoned carpool buddy, and that I actually enjoyed the time I had to read and think for that extra hour in the mornings.

That's the amazing thing about the bus. Here you are surrounded by people and you never, never talk to them. Oh, maybe you'll make a comment to the bus driver, or maybe someone new comes on and asks where this bus is headed or when the next one leaves, but none of the idle, worthless, crappy chit-chat that takes up your carpooling time with the people that you know. Some first-and-only-time bus riders are taken aback by the "comatose" people on the bus, but I don't see them that way at all. When I've asked a question, or made a comment to someone, they've always replied in a very civil tone, and never once looked at me like I was breaking some sacred taboo by emitting words from my mouth.

There's one guy on the bus who doesn't share in the need for quiet and solitude like the rest of us. He talks non-stop. To whoever is sitting next to him. If no one will talk back to him (which they normally stop doing after a few minutes), he talks to the bus driver, who, oddly enough, seems to enjoy the exchange as they converse for the entire route occasionally. A few days ago, it was my turn to be on the receiving end of his conversation.

"Where do you work?" he asked. I told him and politely inquired the same of him, falling right back in to the meaningless idle chatter we are all brought up to expect from others as true conversations.

He then asked "What do you do?" where I responded again.

"I'm the eBusiness Manager for the company. Basically, I'm my team is responsible for all of the company's Internet-related activities."

A few seconds ticked by while he absorbed this information. It obviously wasn't the answer he was expecting. "I'm a file clerk." He said, pausing and looking away for just a moment before his gaze swung back to me and continued with "Why are you riding the bus?"




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Bus Ridin' Man | 26 comments (21 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
Wow (4.25 / 4) (#1)
by spacejack on Mon Sep 10, 2001 at 09:59:43 PM EST

I must admit, I am surprised by how many people thought you had some sort of problem. But do you mind if I ask where you live? There are lots of places in Canada that you literally need a car to get anywhere, but if there are buses I can only guess you live in an urban area.

The real trick to making car-less commuting work for you is of course location, and that is unfortunately very hard to do, especially if you have slim job pickings and/or a family to take care of. The explosive, short-sighted way in which North American cities have developed has left us with a culture where we are practically enslaved to automobile use (and its associated expenses), whether or not we want to be. The truly sad part is that many people don't even realize that there could be a choice.

I'm in Phoenix... plus a folding bike! (4.66 / 3) (#5)
by Evo on Mon Sep 10, 2001 at 10:11:46 PM EST

Luckily, the bus goes right by my house and drops me off very close to work.

To save some additional time, I recently purchased a folding bike. I had been using my good-old Huffy to cut off about 20 minutes of time, biking 2 miles each way (1 to the stop, long bus ride, 1 to the office). Here in Phoenix the buses have bike racks on the front which are quite handy...

... unless two bikes are already on your bus. And since the one line I take is the busies in the North Valley, I found myself stranded one too many times.

So I did what any red-blooded consumer would do-- I reached into my wallet to solve the problem! I bought a folding bike (you can take those on the bus!) from http://strida.com and haven't regretted it for a minute. Of course, the credit card statement hasn't come in yet, so we'll see how I feel after that little shock hits.

Now for the crappy news. The place I work is relocating our office. For commuters, it's going to be a major improvement as it's right off a new freeway. But the bus doesn't go that far north. And there isn't a bike path that goes there, either. And there is no way in hell I'm going to try and ride on Scottsdale Road north of FLW! Those people are maniacs! No curbs, sidewalks... just desert. Maybe I'll have to stash my mountain bike somewhere behind a cactus?



The above post didn't pass thru spell checker. Go make fun of someone else!
"You cannot reason a person out of a position he did not reason himself into in the first place. - Jonathan Swift"
[ Parent ]
cool; drag! (4.50 / 2) (#8)
by spacejack on Mon Sep 10, 2001 at 10:28:30 PM EST

Well, I've ridden to just about every corner of this city for various jobs, but luckily the routes have been manageable, safety-wise. In fact, one of my favourites was a part-time teaching gig I had in college that was about 30km east from home, but perfectly flat. I used to love ripping back home after the night class at around 11pm, and I'd do it pretty much every time it wasn't raining and the streets were clear of snow (I'm pretty wussy when it comes to bad weather). Distance means a whole lot more when you earn it yourself.

IMHO, when it comes to roads, if our taxes are going to pay for roads I don't drive* on, then they should at least do us the courtesy of ensuring safe bicycle routes to anywhere you can get to by car.

* "drive" -- isn't it funny how they say you "drive" a car (yea, pressing that gas pedal and turning that wheel is a whole lot of work!), yet they call it "riding" a bike.

[ Parent ]
Former Bus Commuter (4.00 / 1) (#21)
by relayswitch on Tue Sep 11, 2001 at 11:53:52 PM EST

I'm kinda suprised that you decided to ride the bus here in Phoenix. I had to do that a few years ago while my car was out of commission. I was living in Mesa and had to hop a bus to 16th St and Northen- Ugh. Walked to the bus stop (2 miles from my apartment). Had to be there no later than 5AM. The bus picked me up, dropped me at University and Mill, then I took the Red Line the rest of the way. Arrived at work by 7:45. If I was lucky. Getting back home was more of the same fun. Still, for that distance, $1.25 isn't a bad price. I wish this freaking city would build that light rail. Oddly, the best public transit I've enountered in the US was in Salt Lake City- UTA rocked. Two busses (at least) every hour on all routes, busses ran from 4Am to 10PM, I think the fare was $.75. Fan-Freaking-Tastic.

[ Parent ]
No options (3.00 / 1) (#23)
by Evo on Wed Sep 12, 2001 at 02:17:36 AM EST

I'm kinda suprised that you decided to ride the bus here in Phoenix.
I didn't really have much of an option. I'd love to try out mass transit in Salt Lake, but that doesn't help me get from 7th Street to Scottsdale Road, now does it! ;-P

That's a pretty nasty commute you have. Mine isn't so bad, as it's about a 30 minute trip down Bell Road. All and all, I'd say I've got it pretty cushy.

In fact, on the days I have to take my car I find myself really missing my time to read on the bus. And my whole frustration level for the day is much higher, too.

Now if I can just get my company to start comping me my fare!


"You cannot reason a person out of a position he did not reason himself into in the first place. - Jonathan Swift"
[ Parent ]
The brutal truth of life on earth.. (4.33 / 3) (#12)
by BigZaphod on Tue Sep 11, 2001 at 03:38:32 AM EST

"The truly sad part is that many people don't even realize that there could be a choice."

This one sentence sums up just about every major problem on the planet. Well done!!

Now if only you could get that message out to everyone else...

"We're all patients, there are no doctors, our meds ran out a long time ago and nobody loves us." - skyknight
[ Parent ]
it's amazing (4.80 / 5) (#2)
by czar chasm on Mon Sep 10, 2001 at 10:01:38 PM EST

It's amazing that people automatically think that just because the ability is there one will do it. People always ask me why I walk or bike to school (seriously about 4 miles), even though I own a car, have friends that will give rides, etc. It's almost annoying that they insist that I go by way of motor vehicle.

I think it's sad how we've gotten to a point where just being isn't enough. We constantly have to be doing things -- driving, talking benignly to people, etc -- when just being there is good enough. I don't drive for the environmental and economic reasons (in that order), but I walk because I carry my sketch pad and notebook so I can record everything along the way. Every one to whom I talk doesn't understand that by my just being human and enjoying the world as it is, is enough to warrent such a trip in hot weather.

It's amazing that just because we can, we are supposed to. It's almost getting depressing that we are to be that way.

-Czar Chasm
resource (3.66 / 3) (#10)
by spacejack on Tue Sep 11, 2001 at 12:38:02 AM EST

I did a little searching, and found this document, which is probably worth a read. It outlines the problems plaguing alternative transportation efforts quite well.

This is worthwhile, I guess. (2.66 / 6) (#11)
by elenchos on Tue Sep 11, 2001 at 03:20:42 AM EST

Although I almost voted -1 for use of the word "eBusiness" but in this case maybe an exception can be made. It would help if you could post some kind of explanation, though.

Also, a section other than humor would have made more sense. But I think your experiences in all this are interesting, however they are presented.

Don't tell me your name
If you don't want it sung.
-- Sleater-Kinney

God, I hate it. (1.25 / 8) (#13)
by LQ on Tue Sep 11, 2001 at 03:52:30 AM EST

I almost voted -1 for use of the word "eBusiness" but in this case maybe an exception can be made. It would help if you could post some kind of explanation
I really hate the total prats who hang out here who pretend not to know any of the terms everyone else uses every day. Explanation? Sarcastic cunt.

[ Parent ]
Transportation (3.75 / 4) (#14)
by bse on Tue Sep 11, 2001 at 04:34:35 AM EST

Not sure how valid this is, but i think it probably is.

Where i live right now, the only real way to get from place to place is by car; lots of hills, and buses are mostly few and far between; i've also been learning to drive recently, which makes me even more aware of the whole getting from place to place. This is in England, the midlands, edge of the pennines, lots of hills.

But then I compare that to the short time i was in chicago (well, i'll be there permanently next week). I basically walked everywhere, downtown. Several miles a day, I suppose. Took the CTA buses and subway a few times too. The whole integrated public transport system really surprised me ($1.50 anywhere, with a nifty little card you can fill up with $1.50 trips - around 7, if i recall. valid on the subway and on the buses). It was a great relief to just be able to walk from place to place, even if where i was going was 2 or 3 miles from where i was staying. Sure, my legs ached at the end of each day, but the next morning was just fine. Rinse, and repeat.

If all goes well, i'll have a complete license by thursday afternoon.

"Please sir, tell me why, my life's so pitiful, but the future's so bright? When I look ahead, it burns my retinas." -- Pitchshifter - Please Sir

Public Transport (4.00 / 1) (#15)
by hulver on Tue Sep 11, 2001 at 05:45:45 AM EST

I live in Sheffield in the UK, and Sheffield has got what must be one of the best public transport systems in the country.
Well, you would think so. There are bus stops every 200-300 yards or so, there is the supertram system. There are lots and lots of different bus companies.

Ah, now here we have a problem. There are lots and lots of different bus companies. There are only a few really profitable routes. So what we end up with, is lots and lots of different buses, all trying to pick up the same people.
This is great if you live on one of the popular routes, but not so great if you don't.

Recently my car was in the garage getting mended rather longer than I thought it would be, so I had to get to the other side of the city in order to get a lift with someone I work with. Shouldn't be a problem I thought, after all, Sheffield has got a really good public transport system.

So I set off, at 5:55 in the morning (I usually set of at about 7:45, and get to work early). I missed the bus, DAMM. It was 10 minutes early. Well there are only 2 buses an hour (unfortunatly for me, I don't live on one of the popular routes). So I stand at the bus stop waiting, I wait, and wait. The next bus is 10 minutes late. It takes me 15 minutes to get to the tram stop. The bus arrives two minutes after the tram leaves. Yes, the bus was on time, and so was the tram. The timetable is designed that way.

So I'm standing around, waiting for the tram. 18 minutes later, the tram arrives. I get on. I sit there, reading Metro (we have that in Sheffield to, the Northern edition). I read that. I read it again. I sit there.

The tram stops, it waits, people get on, people get off. The tram waits some more.
($DEITY), this takes forever. I eventually get to the tram terminus, where my work pal is picking me up. We arrive at work, it's 5 minutes past nine.

Believe me, I won't be doing that again in a hurry.


multiple bus companies (3.00 / 1) (#22)
by janra on Wed Sep 12, 2001 at 01:09:54 AM EST

This is why I think some people's idea to 'introduce competition' into the 'bus market' is not a good thing.

In my mind, a monopoly, such as the one transit companies can have, is a deal. The company is permitted a monopoly on the profitable routes, and in exchange it has to provide decent service on the unprofitable routes.

Discuss the art and craft of writing
That's the problem with world domination... Nobody is willing to wait for it anymore, work slowly towards it, drink more and enjoy the ride more.
[ Parent ]
Why bus when you can walk? (4.50 / 2) (#16)
by Lionfire on Tue Sep 11, 2001 at 06:35:49 AM EST

I used to use public transport to get to university (which has become my place of work until I finish my thesis), but now that I've moved closer I just walk. Many people can't quite understand why I wouldn't just drive in.

There's something nice about stepping out into the fresh air in the morning and waking up as I walk the 20 minutes or so to my office. Walking home is even better; it's a time for me to drop all the stress and thoughts from my day and start to relax.

Okay, not everyone can walk to work. But, for those that can arrange to live close enough, I'd highly recommend it.

[ blog | cute ]
The Problems I Have With Public Transport (4.00 / 2) (#17)
by AArthur on Tue Sep 11, 2001 at 07:56:33 AM EST

I live in the country with my parents, in South-Western Albany County, and commute to Hudson Valley Community College in Troy every day. I end up driving, because taking the bus just isn't pratical at all.

Disadvantages of the Bus:

1) It's slow. At least in Albany, with it's interstates which rarely have traffic jams (ie. max. capacity), you can get from place to place by car much faster then bus. Buses slowness problem is even more apparent the longer the trip (assuming it has lots of stops). So I waste more time. And time is money.

2) You have a limited range of destinations. If you don't want to go from Place X to Place Y, your going to have to change buses on the way, pay more, and it's just a pain. And if you live in the country, like I do, your going to have get in your car and drive almost 20 miles from the farthest out bus stop. Figuring I only commute 30 miles each way, it doesn't make sense really.

3) You have no control over the bus. You can't make it go faster, you can't avoid it breaking down, you can't control the radio station. So if I want to listen to really loud country music or something, I couldn't. I could wear headphones, but then people would laugh at me when I sing along.

4) You have to be on schedule. I get out of work-study from college at 3:15 PM, and then like to study / research, until I decide to go home. That could mean 5:02 PM or 4:18 PM. I doubt a bus would run at that time.

Disadvantages of Driving:

1) The way I usually go doesn't have that much traffic, but enough traffic you have to be aware of vechicles that are about to pull in front of you, apply their brakes, etc.
2) Gas. I put almost 350 miles on my car a week. That's like $25 a week in gas.
3) Repairs and milege. My car has 102k miles on it, it's a '94 Plymouth Sundance. Two Fridays ago, my brakes failed at the college parking lot and it rolled into somebody's car.

Andrew B. Arthur | aarthur@imaclinux.net | http://hvcc.edu/~aa310264

Too bad suburbia can't be a part of this (4.50 / 2) (#18)
by mikecra on Tue Sep 11, 2001 at 08:18:17 AM EST

I really wish that I could use mass transit. I would really love to ride the train into work or school every day, not have to deal with the a******s on the road.

Here in Chicagoland we have a great train system, but in the 'burbs you can't get to work from the train station, there's no decent bus service. One other problem is my work is 20 miles north, and my school is 10 miles south of where I live, and the trains mostly go only east-west.

The thing that gets me the most is I love to drive, just not with some of the people that I am forced to drive with. :/

Peak time/rush hour (4.50 / 2) (#19)
by Pseudonym on Tue Sep 11, 2001 at 08:46:41 AM EST

I live in Melbourne. Almost in the city, in fact. I had a unique experience of public transport a couple of years ago when I got a job further out in suburbia. This required me to travel against the direction which the public transport's peak ("rush hour" for you Americans) wanted me to go.

I found travelling out of town in the morning and into town in the afternoon an awful experience. Basically, unless you're travelling in the peak, you don't exist. Trains were routinely late, they would change platforms at the last minute, requiring you to rush lest you be even later... sure I got a lot of reading done, but I spent a lot of time just stressing on whether I'd be late, or what time I'd get home.

Then I got a car. Travelling down the freeway when you're travelling the opposite direction from the peak/rush... now there's a relaxing experience.

sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
Transit vs. Driving (4.00 / 2) (#25)
by vectro on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 12:34:30 PM EST

It's interesting. It seems that when the roads are the most clogged, transit is the best option. But off-peak (e.g., reverse commute, nighttime, etc.), transit is impossible, and driving is the best option.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]
Madison's Approach (3.00 / 1) (#20)
by _Quinn on Tue Sep 11, 2001 at 08:20:50 PM EST

to public transport is very simple, and I think their thinking went like this: "We only built the roads for N people. Therefore, we'll only bother to build M parkings places." Naturally, this makes parking rather expensive after the place quadruples in size -- and public transport that much more attractive, especially with heavily discounted plans available through employers, and the park & ride facilities available just outside the major highways.

Reality Maintenance Group, Silver City Construction Co., Ltd.
Thank god I live in Germany.... (4.00 / 1) (#24)
by hughk on Thu Sep 13, 2001 at 08:48:44 AM EST

A lot of continental European countries have this thing called an integrated transport policy. WHat it means is that the suburban rail service, (S-Bahn), underground, tram and bus system is coordinated.

Regrettably the system is far from cheap, but neither is parking downtown. I can commute from another town to my workplace (Frankfurt) in about 35mins door-to-door (using S-Bahn and bus).

If I go out in the evening, as long as I go home before 01:00, I never have to drink and drive and if I miss the last one, then there is always a nightclub until the first one at about 05:00.

Few thoughts (none / 0) (#26)
by strlen on Wed Sep 26, 2001 at 05:08:58 PM EST

I've taken the bus here in the United States, and to say the truth I've despised it most of the time. The bus comes at very rare intervals, and there isn't always a guarantee it will come. Bus makes a lot of stops, I have no control over the bus. I have to put up with people I wouldn't ordinarily associate with.

I also enjoy driving my car, other than in traffic. And problems such as horrendous Sillicon Valley traffic, impossible parking, rather expensive gas are all pale in comparison to the shit I've been through while riding the bus. Now back in Russia the public transportation system was much better. You could purchase tickets in advance. Schedule was stricly adhered to. Many of the buses were also equiped with electric motors, as to not produce tons of diesel smut when driving through the town, but they could be switched to a diesel engine when going outside the town. Subway was also excellent, and very fast. Thus even people who owned cars often took the public transportation. And you could easily make do with a non-practical car or a complete beater for weekend trips, since you were guaranteed that there would always be a way to get from point A to point B.

[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
Bus Ridin' Man | 26 comments (21 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
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