Fair Fare

April 22nd

Here comes my ride

Survived the bus commute today in honor of Earth Day. The daily ride pass costs $2.50, not $1.25 as I thought. This left me scrambling at the front of the bus for change for a $10 after I had already put in all the quarters in my wallet (5, as planned). It was like being at Rhodes Junior High School for the first day of 7th grade all over again. There I am fiddling with my bottom row locker when all the freshman are spinning through their combos with ease, hovering above and snickering at the green new kids. Thanks to the kind wave of the bus driver, I took my seat without ever finding the right change.

Bus gear ready for the ride home

It was the right change to my routine. The brief experience threw me into a new mix of folk who I otherwise wouldn’t spend an hour with socially. I like these sorts of social situations where you feel completely uncomfortable because the universe is shaking you down and trying to teach you something about yourself. There were high school students from the technical school speaking Spanish and playing with their long, shiny brown hair. There was an African immigrant in a pressed white shirt that was so thin I could see his bus card clearly through his front pocket. A man with a hearing aid slowly rocked back and forth, flicking his long fingernails and never looking up from the black plastic flooring. I smiled, thumbed through my book mindlessly and people-watched with hunger. Bus riding is good for a writer’s soul.

Bus view.

The commute was easy. It took an hour, including about a mile walk — which I thoroughly enjoyed knowing we are full well climbing back in the oven known as the Phoenix summer soon enough. The bus was comfortable, the company eclectic and I didn’t have any road rage while reading and day dreaming. Imagine that.
I may have to give this public transport thing a fair shake, although it means I’d miss my morning coffee stops on the way into work. You know your life problems are insignificant when it all comes down to caffeine.


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16 Responses

  1. I usually take 2/4 (when I go home for lunch) bus rides every day for work, and even if sometimes I enjoy my reading, or some chats with a girlfriend, I truly enjoy also all the conversations going on there. Various humanity………..

  2. Fabulous! I do a “public transit day” twice or more a month when I’m working in DC. It’s a whole other sense of calm about commuting, isn’t it?

    I hope that you can do it again.

    (AND, I just found out that I’m moving to Chicago, so I’m looking forward to using public transit as my main mode of transportation for my personal life. AND getting to see Kacey.)

  3. I really admire you for taking the bus! Now that we live in the “burbs” we are a little further from the metro and have to take the bus (or drive) there. I did it once and it was an awful experience. We got yelled at for holding up the line and not having the strolled folded up. It was kind of crazy.

  4. riding the bus is THE best people watching EVER!!

  5. Back in October when my Saturn finally died and I was carless, Jordan and I took the bus frequently for about two weeks. It sucked [for me] at first only because I didn’t know what to expect–I was completely out of my comfort zone, but once we got the gist (jist?) of it down, it was actually fun. Jordan LOVED it. He had always seen these big city busses zipping past us here in Tampa and his natural ‘little kid curiosity’ made him in awe of these things. So to actually ride on one–he was in heaven. And it was nice for me to actually be able to ride around and look/observe life from a passenger’s view point. I am NEVER the passenger since Jordan and I are here by ourselves…no one to take us anywhere, etc. I really enjoyed not having to pay attention!!! LOL


  6. We are such a small town we don’t even have a bus system. YAY for you for making changes.

  7. I just bought a new 4 cup coffee pot on sale at Tarjay for $15. Can I send you an insulated mug?
    I used to LOVE taking the bus and the subway in India and England. The people watching was so great – and the listening to all the different languages and accents.
    I keep thinking once I have two kids at the same school I might manage to take the bus to work. With gas nearing $4/gal. a $2.50 bus pass sounds like a bargain.

  8. michelle April 23, 2008

    That is so cool that you got to take the bus. Yesterday I made sure I didn’t drive if it wasn’t absolutely necessary(picking up the kids was my only outing). We did a lot of recycling at the house including cleaning out a bunch of stuff and getting it on craigslist. Not sure that that is Earth Day worthy, but man did it feel good to clear out junk.

  9. I love those types of uncomfortable situations too! We moved to this neighborhood in July that is definitely a change from the suburbs I grew up in. I feel slightly uncomfortable every time I take the dogs on a walk. But there are so many opportunities for making a difference in this city.

  10. I took the bus for the last few months I worked at Freescale. Due to some kind of county/industry program, Freescale would *give* anyone a all-rides-are-free bus pass if they rode the bus to work. Free is a very attractive price, so I rode my bike to the bus stop and rode the bus to work (4 whole miles). It was a relaxing and entertaining way to get to and from work.

    Hope I didn’t scare you two this morning on the canal. I didn’t recognize you until I was past. I’d wondered how long it would be before I saw you out and about around the Y.

  11. I don’t miss riding the bus (in Boston) because I can’t handle the fumes, but I guess the new electric ones should be better, right? But I do miss riding the commuter train, watching all the business people meet up with their friends after work and discuss vacations, kids, etc. It was great to have that enforced down time when I could read the newspaper or knit.

  12. You rock! (I too am victim of those morning caffeine cravings!)

  13. Is that a plastic bottle I see…if it has a number 7 on the bottom you really should toss it. Bisphenol A has now been banned in Canada, seems it causes serious health problems including fertility problems. I’m preaching, sorry but I’m quite passionate about this stuff…ciao

  14. One bad thing about living in the sticks is you can’t walk or take a bus anywhere :O( I used to take the bus when I was a kid all the way across town, and changed buses at the mall even. I still can’t believe my mom let me do that. All to get to Girl Scouts lol.

  15. Good for you for mixing it up! Other than when I was at school at the U of I, I’ve never lived anywhere that a bus system was available. (and I didn’t use it much then because everything I needed was walking distance) Years ago (pre-children) we took a trip with my French professor and some other students to Quebec and we took the metro or the bus all over the city. I thought it was such a great way to get around and so much less stressful, no trying to find your way while driving, parking, etc.

  16. I have a love/hate relationship with the bus/light rail system. I love that I get to read to and from work. I love sharing the commute. I love that I’m one less car on the road (not to mention saving all that $$ on gas). I love the people watching. I hate when it breaks down and you miss your connection, and it takes 2 hours to get home. I hate when I’ve had a hard day and the humanity is overwhelming. I hate how downright dirty some buses/trains are. But, overall, it’s a great option for me and I love how I know the system. It’s so nice to know that we can survive with one car, or even no car, if needed.