August 6, 2011 in Washington Voices

Front Porch: Bus perks far beyond going green

 

A few years ago, when gas prices hovered around $4.50 a gallon and the country stood mesmerized as each passing minute brought another sharp increase to the pumps, I realized our garage resident and source of pride since Henry Ford plopped the first engine into a Model T, had morphed into a gas-guzzling bucket of tin.

I also realized my frivolous driving habits had hit the brick wall of reality. It was time to rely on mass transit for my work commute.

It wasn’t easy giving up stopping at the store for picking up this or dropping off that, white-knuckle driving along ice-covered streets and jockeying for position on the freeway. Not easy at all, and I suspect there are many struggling with the same dilemma, but there’s more to mass transit than meets the eye.

To prove that point, I’ve compiled a list of ten reasons to take the bus to work. You won’t find any going green mantra here; what you will find are little known perks observed by a card-carrying STA bus rider that might have you slapping your forehead and saying “Wow, I should have an STA bus pass”:

1. Plenty of time to read, do crosswords and play solitaire. Trading commutes through Spokane’s treacherous streets, be it summer (road construction) or winter (ice, snow, potholes that devour your car) with expanding your horizons while someone else does the driving is much nicer than it looks.

2. Plenty of time to catch up on gossip. Sure, you’ve got friends; sure, you’ve got family; but on the bus, you’ve got bus buddies. Oh, the wonders you will hear.

3. Plenty of time for a snooze. Naps are permissible and bus mates take advantage of this perk. It can be comical at times, but I rarely hear snoring and, to my knowledge, no one drools.

4. Plenty of time for a cup of joe. Grab that coffee and bring it on board, provided it’s in a spill-proof, destruction-proof and tamper-proof mug. Sit back, relax and feel the caffeine enter the blood stream … once you get the dang thing open.

5. Plenty of time to be a lookie-loo. Every freeway mishap can be stared at without causing accident reaction. I dare you to do that while driving your car.

6. Plenty of time to hone comedic talent. Bus driving can get monotonous and the drivers, with captive audience in seats, take this opportunity to sharpen their comedy routines. A recent drive through downtown’s jackhammered streets and freeway on-ramp closures spurred our bus driver to do just that. “The weather for tonight is dark,” he said ominously over the bus microphone. “Followed by more dark, until morning, when it gets light.” At times, the obvious is hilarious, and so was the bus ride home.

7. Plenty of time for texting, tweeting, twittering and Texas hold ’em.

8. Plenty of time to work. What I consider forbidden territory, others consider opportunity. Working on work doesn’t work for me, but there are those who work on work while riding the bus.

9. Plenty of time to enjoy lunch. Dodging through traffic while eating that burger lunch is no longer an option.

10. Plenty of time to decide where you’ll spend the money saved. I guesstimate it cost me $300 a month in gas and parking fees. A 30-day bus pass is $45. Do the math.

The above are only 10 out of dozens of reasons to seek out the nearest park-and-ride and take the bus to work. Hop on board someday. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Voices correspondent Sandra Babcock can be reached by email at Sandi30@comcast.net. Previous columns are available at spokesman.com/ columnists.


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