A month ago Lee and I decided to give public transportation a try. Rather than paying for two expensive parking spots downtown, we would pay for just one. We’d ride to work together every day, I’d use the car to get Camille from school in the early afternoon and Lee would take the bus home at 5. There is a bus stop near the office and another close to our house, so it seemed like a good idea.
I was actually pretty happy with the plan. At the risk of sounding like a hippie, I feel like we all rely too heavily on oil. That’s why our most recent car purchase was a diesel with good gas mileage. And that’s why I wanted to support public transportation – it’s like voicing my opinion with my wallet, right?
Except the bus experience was disappointing. The ride itself was fine – usually only about 15 minutes. But the bus was late more than it was on time, and quite often very late. Sometimes it would take Lee an hour to get home, even though home was only three miles away, because he spent so long waiting on the unreliable bus.
But the clincher happened last week. The bus was more than thirty minutes late. When it finally came, he boarded, paid his fare, and then two blocks later the bus driver ordered everyone off. No explanation. No refund. And then he drove away, leaving a confused crowd of would-be riders on the sidewalk.
The situation was frustrating for sure, but at least Lee was able to call me and have me come pick him up. But I have new sympathy for people who don’t have another form of transportation. What if you had to rely on the bus to get to a job on time? To get home to your kids? It’s not like they can take their business to a competitor bus company. They’re stuck.
We’re about to pony up the extra money for another parking spot because we’re the lucky ones. But you shouldn’t have to be lucky to be able to get a reliable ride home.