Tag Archives: bus

Perception vs. Reality

12 May

One of the great dangers is letting our thoughts become our reality. So at my new job, I get a very nice benefit; I get a bus/rail pass. Considering my job is downtown, it makes far more sense to use it, but I was surprised on how many co-workers would not.

The reason they don’t has nothing to do with timing or location… it’s “the light rail is smelly.” They were afraid of dealing with urine-stained seats and homeless people riding the rails. The truth is… there’s none of that. I rode it this morning and everything was spotless, no smelling people, just people on their way to work. But people were convinced that it was that they didn’t want to ride it.

It just struck me as a very unusual complaint, probably by people who hadn’t taken the light rail in years. Buses… okay, you may have a point, but generally the buses in my neighborhood are pretty clean. I was really just taken aback by the weirdness of that argument. There are plenty of reasons that people might not take the bug. I have to drop off my kids. What if there’s an emergency? I need to get home quickly.

What’s prevented me in the past is the inconvenience angle. When I lived in outer Cincinnati, I took the express bus to work, only a fifteen minute walk to the stop, shot me downtown, and then there was a shuttle to take me to work. Cheaper, easier, and much less stressful. Then we moved from beyond the beltway to a much closer burb. I rode my bike to the bus stop, shot on close to my job on the local bus, and then waited for the bus at the end of the day to take me back. And waited. And waited. And when it showed up, there were three in a row, because all the refugees from downtown slowed down the bus.

This honked me off so much, that I just rode home one day… all 11 1/2 miles of it. I did it, felt exhausted, but made it home in one piece. After that, I did it on purpose. Then eventually, I took the bike down to work as well as back up and only rode the bus again when I broke my hand. Because it was simply faster.

So I’ll admit, I’m taking advantage of the light rail because it’s gonna only a little more time and save me a whole ton of money. Plus I love trains. But thinking that it’s “smelly” when it’s not? I think there’s an impression of the last time you rode… or the impression that you think you remember from one incident long ago… and that colors your actions. It’s a strange thought, but so often gets applied to many subjects. The same way that the first thing you heard about a subject becomes the absolute truth, despite any facts to the contrary.

Does this happen to you? Let me know in the comments below! Then once you’ve done that, why not pick up one of my books? But if you’re not convinced of my writing to spend $1.99, download one of my stories for free!

You’re Going Nowhere

1 Apr

The idea of public transit in the US is wonderful–too many cars, too few roads/lanes. But outside of the certain urban areas, it doesn’t get much traction. Why? Because the timing simply doesn’t work.

The first problem is waiting; it’s a pain in the butt. With a car, you get in whenever you want and you go. With public transit, you are dependent on other people. There’s a schedule and you have to be there at that time or you have to wait. Honestly, bus schedules are more of a “suggestion” anyway, because they’re dependent on traffic and the number of riders.

Then there’s the bus itself. I personally love trains–light rail, subways, Amtrak–absolutely love riding them. Any time I can make an excuse to ride them, I do. Buses… not so much. When choosing between an amazingly clean bus and an amazingly dirty train, I’ll take the dirty train every time. Why? Because the train only stops at designated places; the bus stops any time someone wants off. Of course, that’s the local bus. There are express buses which only have designated stops… but it’s still not as fun as a train.

Most places I’ve lived, when I have the train option, it doesn’t go where I want to go. If I work in Corporate Acres, but I live in Lesser Middlesburg, the train station is in Upper Middlesburg, it goes downtown, then you have to switch to go to another train to get to Corporate Acres. So I have to “park and ride.” When I lived in Cincinnati, I lived outside the highway ring, and took the express bus downtown, and then my company had a shuttle direct to campus. It was very convenient. Then we moved to a closer suburb. I was going to ride my bike to the bus stop and take the bus in. Going into work was fine, but then catching the bus back meant I had to wait, and wait, and wait… because everyone who got on the bus downtown had to get off before it got to me. After a while, I started just riding home the 11.5 miles. Then I realized, “Oh, I can ride faster than I can take the bus,” so I became a dedicated bike commuter for three years. (Then I changed jobs.)

When I worked in Baltimore, there was a light rail direct from the airport to where I was staying. Great! Except my flight got in after midnight, and the last train left at 11:30. Oops. So, taxi it was. When I caught my flight, I could take the light rail, but otherwise, everywhere I wanted to go… I could walk faster than waiting for the “Charm City Connector.” The bus was really nice–but it’s never where you needed it, and never where you wanted to go.

That’s the problem. US was built for the car, and our urban sprawl is based on being able to get there by car. So unless there’s a geographic constraint (such as New York City and San Francisco) or there’s simply too many people between you and your objecive (Chicago, Washington D.C.), it simply is faster to take the car than the bus. Even if you get enough trains to where you need to go, the price tag is often more than the return you will get from it. With COVID and working from home, this is even more true.

But that’s just my opinion– where did I get it wrong? Can public transit work in the US? Is it doomed from the beginning? Let me know in the comments below! Meanwhile, of you like my writing, pick up one of my books. But if you’re still not sold, download one of my stories for free! You’ll be glad you did.

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