June 25, 2008

up and down, up and down

Today's my first shot at riding public transportation to work. Lydia's coming downtown twice, and by eliminating my trip, we save about six bucks in gas.

Our fair city has a bus system as its sole form of public transportation. The one notable exception is the Music City Star, our lone rail line from downtown to the east. The bus system appears to be, at least at first glance on my trip, a great government institution: big, old, operational, and inefficient. When I got to the intersection where I boarded, the bus didn't stop at any of the bus stop signs. It stopped in the middle of a parking lot. I had to ask when I got on if I was supposed to get on there.

Also, in the first ten minutes I've been on this "express" bus, we've wound our way through five different back streets when we could have gone straight down Old Hickory Boulevard. Interestingly, on these back streets, we've picked up people along the way at "non bus stop" locations. It makes me think, of course, "well why can't I have a bus come straight down my street instead of making this ten minute walk in the morning??"

37X is a double bus, and when I boarded, I was passenger number two. A little awkward, because I had no idea where to sit. I made my way past the first passenger to the second half of the bus. Now that we're moving, I've figured out that there's more noise back here... it's where the engine is (duh.) So next time, closer to the front.

When I ran my trip on the website, it showed the fare as $1.35 each leg. When I boarded, it shows $1.85. I knew they were going to be raising the rates, but it's a little frustrating (read: "governmenty") that they haven't updated the information to the public. Since I'm on a one-way trip, I'm paying cash today, but in the future, I may go for a multi-ride ticket to make it even cheaper.

So far, the clientele on my ride is all business people... and I'm just inferring by state of dress and age that they're all government people. Since the main bus stop is right in the middle of a bunch of city and state government buildings, that's probably not a stretch. School's out, or we might have some magnet kids with us.

But, the real upside to the whole thing so far, if you haven't figured it out, is that my broadband card is working, and I can GET STUFF DONE on the trip instead of just sitting in my car by my lonesome on I-65. Or I could just blog. Which I am.


Christina said...

I love that you rode the bus! We are so about public transportation. If we lived in Hermitage still, Dave would be riding the MC Star. I think all of the gov't and vandy employees can ride the bus for FREE. Maybe Lifeway should offer that ; )

Anonymous said...

Have you figured out how much you're saving in gas?


Patrick said...

It'll depend on the day. The truck gets 20-25 MPG, and the round trip is about 25 miles... that's 4-6ish bucks a day, swapped with $3.70 in bus fare on a nice day. If it was inclement weather, I'd need to take a second bus instead of walking the eight blocks from the bus stop to work which would mean $7.40 in bus fare, or, if they still offer it, purchasing a $4 day pass, reducing the savings.

And, on July 1, the express fare will be $2.10, and the day pass will be $4.80. However, I could invest in a 20-ride express pass for $38.00 making each ride $1.90.

I really do wish it was more clear cut... like $10 to drive and $3 to ride. Instead, it's like $5 to drive and $4.50 to ride.

Then you factor in time. In order to ride the bus, I have to be up no later than 5:15 (which is normal these days) and be at the bus stop by 6:05, arriving (after the walk) at work at about 7:15. Then I don't get home until 6:00 p.m. (after the walk.) If I'm in my car, I can leave at 7:00 and be home by 5:00. It's an extra two hours of time to take the bus. What's that worth?