Thursday, December 06, 2007

Bus Ride

Lonely bus ride, originally uploaded by MirandaRae.
Yesterday I performed a small experiment during my day. We received about six inches of snow during the course of the day, and so my day was slightly adjusted as a result. The streets around my house are among the last to get cleared when streets are being cleared and salted, so I have learned to make alternative travel arrangements. When you drive a small car with low rolling friction tires, and you live in a town that is built on a hill it is not wise to attempt to drive—the odds are stacked against you.

Yesterday, I had some meetings at Chestnut Ridge Church, but my automobile plus the steadily falling snow made that seem like it wasn’t a viable option. But then I got an idea. Morgantown has a bus system that they are looking to expand called Mountain Line. (There may be a bus that goes to your favorite place to shop in town, or that would take you to and from your place of employment.) I wondered if they had service that stretched out to the Cheat Lake area. I called and asked, and they said they had a bus that went right by the church. The bus left every 90 minutes from the depot, and one was leaving 15 minutes from when I called. Of course, there were also delays caused by the inclement weather. (Even big buses have some difficulty along the snowy winter hills of Morgantown.)

Although my bus was about 40 minutes behind schedule, I was still able to make it to the church in time for my meetings. It cost me a whopping 75 cents to travel to the church. Of course it did take slightly longer than traveling in my own car, but I also didn’t really have to pay attention to the roads—in theory, I could have made phone calls, worked on my computer, read, studied, composed emails, wrote notes, or a number of other tasks, but I didn’t. I spent most of my time talking to John, my bus driver, while we journeyed through some rough weather to reach my destination.

Of course, I did pick the worst time to ride the bus in one sense. We were in the middle of a huge winter storm, so more than likely the buses would all be behind schedule. But at the same time, it was the best time. When better to take a bus than when smaller vehicles should not be on the road. Lot’s of people site the time it takes to journey by bus as the main reason not to ride on one, but I think there is a lot that can be done with that time.

One of my old roommates lives in the DC area. In order to arrive at work each day, he takes a bus and then gets on the subway. It is inexpensive and relatively efficient transportation for many people. And the more people who use it, the better it gets.

For most of my trip yesterday, it was just me and the bus driver. There may have been a half-dozen people total at the bus depot. As the city of Morgantown expands, it only makes sense to encourage residents and students to consider alternative modes of transportation. Walking or Riding a bike can work for most trips for a large portion of the year, but sometimes our trips in the city are a little longer, or they require multiple stops.

Wherever you live, if you live in a semi-urban area, take some time in the next few weeks to try the bus system. As more people use these public transportation systems, they can only get better.

Did you know that only 8% of the world’s population even own cars? So driving isn’t a luxury for them. Did you know that 89% of Americans own one or more cars? Maybe you live in a place where public transportation isn’t available, or your job requires access to a vehicle at all times. That isn’t the case for most of us. So instead of spending time digging your car out of the snow and stressing out over the drive to work, maybe give your local public transportation system an opportunity to serve you. It never hurts to try something new, right?