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The Slice: Avoiding the fuss when riding the bus

Since deciding to take the bus to work this winter, I have been asked over and over: “Why don’t you buy a monthly pass?”

No, I’m kidding. No one on Earth cares about whether I have a bus pass.

Nevertheless, I need to address this. You see, paying cash to ride the bus every day is more expensive than using a prepurchased pass. And spending more than is necessary is positively unSpokanian.

I don’t want to get a reputation as a spendthrift.

But here’s the thing. I’m not certain those passes work.

Oh, sure. Riders manage to get on the bus using them. But it seems like half the time the people employing those cards are greeted with an automated voice saying either “Card not valid” or “Please show I.D.”

Who needs that?

Admittedly, no one ever seems especially flustered by these encounters. Still, it’s not how I want to start my trip downtown each day.

Years ago, I occasionally bought those old-timey tokens STA used to sell. They were cool-looking and seemed like the sort of thing that marked Spokane as a real city and not just a greasy spot next to the railroad tracks. But they are a thing of the past.

Anyway, I boarded the bus Monday morning and fed my $1.25 into the fare-swallowing machine. As I turned and headed toward a seat, the driver softly called to me, “Sir.”

Then, in a quiet voice, she reminded me that the fare had gone up 25 cents with the new year. I think she spoke softly so as to not make me feel like a rube among the more street-wise passengers. Wasn’t that nice?

I like STA drivers. Not every single one, mind you. But the majority of those I have encountered seem like good people.

My dealings with highly paid STA administrators have been hit and miss over the years. The drivers, however, are almost always ready to help.

So I guess I need to consider getting a bus pass. The thing is, there are a couple of new wrinkles with the 2011 versions. They might be even more complicated to use.

Oh, well. I know who to ask if I have any questions.

Today’s Slice question: When attempting to get organized and toss things out, how do you decide what can go in the regular garbage and what requires shredding?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470, fax (509) 459-5098; e-mail “Eags”: Yes or no?

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