Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bus Pass, Thy Name Is Freedom*

We became a car-free family on December 22. It wasn't by choice. There was an ice storm the day before and the day after my husband went to start the car and it smelled of fire and the entire electrical system was shot. We towed it to a mechanic who said the ice storm caused an electrical fire and the car was a write-off. We tried to get insurance to cover it but the insurance company wanted us to put out a whole bunch of money we didn't have to have the engine ripped apart and "prove" that there was an actual fire and not just a short.

So we got bus passes.

The first week I was all, "BUS PASS, THY NAME IS FREEDOM!" It was great, we could go to all the places we wanted without having to worry about the amount of fuel in the tank and living so close to downtown, we have multiple busses to choose from every time we leave the house.

My freedom, however, was short-lived.

In short, buses can suck. Commuting to work has never been a problem for me via bus but doing errands is a whole different ball game. If I need to drop something off in the next city, I can spend an hour and a half on the bus for a five minute errand. Doing laundry by bus is torture. It seems laundromats are a dying breed and dragging your dirty laundry across town on a bus is not nearly as much fun as it sounds. Who knew?

The worst part is the buses that never come. Back when I was a car person, I would scoff at the person showing up 45 minutes late for work with the lame "my bus never came" excuse. But for reals, now I know it's true. Sometimes buses just don't come. In fact, it's happened to me 4 times in 3 weeks. On the same bus route.

It's shitty any way you look at it. But especially during winter. And especially when you have 2 kids with you who are freezing cold. During a snow storm. Or freezing rain.

Credit: Region of Waterloo/GRT

Our town has an express bus route that is the bomb. Whenever I have the chance to take it, I'm incredibly impressed at the speed in which I can get around the city. It also has the great feature of real-time info displays at all of its stops. You walk to the bus stop and the display shows you exactly when the next 2 buses are coming and it updates as buses go through traffic, it's really quite amazing. And frankly, these real-time displays need to be at every bus stop, or at least at every stop that has a bus shelter.

For those nights like the one when the bus was supposed to come at 8:19 during a pretty good bout of freezing rain and it didn't come until 8:55. There's a bus shelter at that stop but the kids had to stand out in the rain because there was a group of teenage boys in the shelter and when I asked them to make some room for my boys, they replied "back off, bitch". Or the Sunday afternoon, when 5 cm of snow fell during the half hour we were in Michael's and the bus that only comes once per hour, didn't. And there we were, standing at the side of the road for 45 minutes. Real time info at the bus stop would have warned us to go find somewhere to hole up and stay warm until the next bus time instead of waiting for the bus that would never appear.

I understand why bus companies can't always send out replacement buses when a bus can't finish its route. But I also now know what it's like to be on the receiving end of the bus that doesn't exist. And it blows.

So bus pass, I still love you, because you give me freedom to go places I wouldn't have gone when I was busy worrying about the amount of gas in the tank but sometimes you make me yearn for sunny days and my bicycle, the only vehicle I know that'll get me everywhere I want to go, whenever I want to go there and the only fuel it needs is the food I'm already eating anyway.

*when you arrive, that is.

1 comment:

  1. I can relate.

    I also sold my car during the summer and got a bus pass. It's been an experience lol