Friday, June 1, 2007

Hmmm... Day 2

This morning my commute went as expected, I took the bus to Greg's house and we carpooled to work. He left promptly at noon but I wanted to go to the bank and the gym before heading back so I told him to go ahead without me and I would catch the bus. I soon learned that the first bus on the route I take home does not run until 3:20 so I had some time to kill. As it was a gorgeous day and the sun was starting to peek out from behind the clouds I decided to lie out by the pool at my gym for a while before working out. It felt great but I did get a little too much sun. After lounging poolside I went into the gym for an hour workout and headed to the bus stop.

On the first leg of my trip two things caught my attention. The first was an observation that while we were on the 805 south the bus drove in the shoulder while the traffic in all other lanes crawled along. This seems to be a great use of an otherwise under utilized space. My second observation was more of a question... Why of all the people who could have sat next to me did I have to get the fattest woman on the bus to share a bench with? I was hoping she would find another seat but sure enough she hobbled in and swung around to take the seat next to me. She nearly crushed my left side with her right quarter thigh then uttered "sorry" in the most petite of voices. That was a minor annoyance, actually more amusement than anything. The bus was on time and everything went as planned until my transfer.

So I was transferring from the 960 route to the 15 route at the I-15 transit plaza and according to the schedule there was to be a 6-minute overlap before the 15 bus left. As I got off the first bus I could see my next bus waiting across the intersection. Before I could cross the street it drove away several minutes early!!! My frustration was palpable. So I waited at the transit plaza for several minutes until the route 1 bus arrived. Both routes will take me to my stop at 54th but the 15 runs limited stops so it is essentially an express and cuts off at least 5 minutes from my trip. This trip was riddled with stops on nearly every block and all kinds of people who could not figure out how to get their money into the machine or why their children needed to have a ticket also. This was a bit of a nightmare. Before I made it to my stop at 54th the next 15 bus passed us from behind, so the lesson here is to never get on the 1 unless I absolutely have to. I finally got off at my stop at just over an hour for this commute. Had the transfer to the 15 been successful I would have saved several minutes.

My next chore was to go to the grocery store. My transfer slip was good until 6:15 so after a brief snack at home I ventured back out to El Cajon Blvd. to catch the 15 line to College Ave where Vons is located. I arrived several minutes early and the 5:21 bus did not show up at all. I had to wait for the following 5:36 bus to begin my trip; this was 15 minutes totally wasted. Meanwhile I got into a conversation with an SDSU student and he swore that the buses are never on time. He was astonished that I was conducting this "green experiment" and said that most people couldn't be bothered. I hope he is wrong about the frequency of buses being off schedule, but today's experiences did bring to light some concerns.

Shopping was uneventful and I was in a rush to get back on a bus before my transfer slip expired. Just as I got back to the corner of College Ave and El Cajon Blvd the 15 bus was waiting but it also decided to take off while I was crossing the street. This bus was actually behind schedule so I had not planned to catch it anyway. I had to take the 1 back to my house, as it was the last option before the 6:15 transfer slip cut off time. This bus also stopped at nearly every block along the way but thankfully the distance I had to travel was not that far.

To summarize the transit experience today I had mixed feelings. If I had no other option then I would just accept the fact that the buses might not keep me on schedule all the time. I ended up getting to every place I had to go but the times were a little unpredictable. Can I put up with it indefinitely? Stay tuned...

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