5:30 AM: My new I-Home clock radio wakes me to praise music from my I-Pod. Iâ€™m embarking on a new adventure today. Iâ€™m going to take the bus to work.
Aside: waking up to my I-Pod instead of my favorite radio station, WCTL has me a little concerned that Iâ€™ve crossed over to some very bad parallel universe that diminishes the importance of terrestrial broadcasting. More about that in a future post.
6:15 AM: Time to go. Iâ€™ve packed my I-Pod, Bible, a book Iâ€™m reading, two Fiber One bars. I havenâ€™t had any coffee yet
6:22 AM: My wife drops me at the bus stop, about 10 blocks from my house. I sit down on the bench. I think that I must have looked like a goober sitting there with my Targus computer case upright on my lap. But the morning is beautiful.
6:30 AM: Still on the bench. Iâ€™m afraid to put on my earbuds for the I-pod in fear of getting mugged. Stupid I know, but Iâ€™m not yet comfortable about sitting on a downtown street corner with several hundred dollars worth of technology on me. I donâ€™t know when my bus will come. One just passed by but it was the M2 and Iâ€™m watching for the 14.
6:34 AM: Well at least thatâ€™s the time on my 20-ride ticket. Iâ€™m thinking that the ticket swiper is running about seven minute slow. No worries, however, because Iâ€™ve got plenty of time before my first meeting. The bus driver is friendly, asks where Iâ€™m heading and explains that itâ€™s two swipes to Edinboro. Of course I knew that, since Iâ€™ve been researching what the logistics would be like to take the bus for the past month now.
For eight years of my life, taking an Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority bus was a daily occurrence. I rode Route 7 to Mercyhurst Prep for four years, getting on at 18th and State often after traversing some gigantic snow mounds at the Erie Central Mall and enduring sub-zero wind chills in my W.T. Grant parka. When college came I rode with my dad the Route 5 bus downtown to 7th and State. But it has been 24 years since those days, in which Iâ€™ve probably ridden a city bus 2 or 3 times, max.; until today.
The bus to Edinboro doesnâ€™t really fit my schedule most of the time. During the school year Iâ€™ve got to transport kids, and need the flexibility of having my own wheels. But with that round trip to Edinboro in my car now costing $8.00, taking the bus starts looking really good, especially with the summer here. If I can do the bus even once a week, I can pocket $4, and feel good about doing something about these gas prices.
6:50 AM: We are picking people up at the mall. Thereâ€™s about six or seven other folks on the bus heading toward the Boro. Iâ€™ve put my earbuds in and am reading my One Year Bible readings. Itâ€™s pretty noisy and squeaky, but for the most part Iâ€™m comfortable.
7:12 AM: I put my stuff away and ask the bus driver if could let me out at my work, which is right on the highway he is taking to Edinboro. He obliges, turns on his blinkers and pulls off to the right of the road, exactly in front of the church where I work. To the door service. As he heads on I see the line of nine cars who waited for me to disembark. I feel a little sheepish to be holding up traffic, but glad for the ride.
7:15 AM: Iâ€™m at my desk ready to start the day.
As folks come into the office a bit later they are surprised to see that Iâ€™m already there. When I tell them that I took the bus, they are kind of shocked and nearly universally exclaim, â€œJoel, youâ€™re going green!â€ I look at the environmental-deal as being a cool, yet secondary benefit to spending less than half the cash on my commute.
3:24 PM: Time for the ride home. Iâ€™m the first one on, but by the time I get off, the bus is about 60% full. I shared my seat for a couple miles.
4:15 PM:Â After getting dropped off and a brisk walk, Iâ€™m back home. I can definitely do this next week!