I will not be trying the bus during the Triangle’s “Try Transit Week”

30 Sep

It’s Try Transit Week in the Triangle, which means public transportation officials want people who normally wouldn’t ride a bus to climb aboard.


I’m fortunate to have a car, so I don’t have to rely on bus schedules. Sure, I could ride the bus to save gas, save emissions and cut down on traffic by taking my car off the road. But suddenly this independent chick would have to rely on other people, something I do not like to do. I like knowing that the bus is there, and if I needed it, you can bet I would take a seat. I also have no issues with paying taxes and fees to fund our local public transportation system, even though I don’t really use it. I understand the value the bus system provides to our community and I absolutely support it.

But other than riding the R-Line downtown, I have no plans to participate in this week’s festivities (which include free rides, ice cream and coupons to bolster ridership).

That said, I applaud local transit officials for setting aside time to help bring awareness to bus ridership and encourage new riders to ditch their cars. I’m not sure how much these awareness events have on ridership though. Last Tuesday was World Carfree Day, and the Daily Tar Heel reported that there didn’t appear to be an influx of riders (although, the article notes that rain may have been a deterrent).


Last year, fellow Raleigh blogger Leo decided he would ride the bus from his downtown apartment to his office in Research Triangle Park for one week.

He thoroughly documented his experience on his blog. The self-described “ecogeek” concluded that while it was nice to be able to watch videos on his iPod while the bus driver steered him home, he would rather leave a slightly larger carbon footprint than endure the 2.5 to 3+ hour roundtrip bus ride. He wrote:

“We all live and work in different areas so your particular experience will be different from mine. With that and the experience I just shared I have decided not to continue riding the bus as the time factor is the real kicker for me. The bus is just too slow and it is not worth it to me to ride it for so long.”

Another Raeligh blogger, John, is a daily bus rider and he seems to enjoy it. Best of all, he embraces the people watching and blogs about the characters who board his bus. With names like “Sci-Fi Fantasy Man” for the guy who loves his paperback science fiction reads to “Waffle House Man” for the guy who boards the bus after his shift. His blog is a must read for a snapshot of buscapades (as he calls them).

So if you’ve been thinking about giving the bus a try, this is the week to do it. As always, feel free to share your thoughts, experiences on the Triangle’s bus system in the comments.

8 Responses to “I will not be trying the bus during the Triangle’s “Try Transit Week””

  1. Valerie September 30, 2009 at 5:23 am #

    The main reason I don’t take the bus is time. According to the bus schedules, it would take me an hour and a half to make my commute. By car it’s 30-45 minutes. It would be great to have more “free time” to read or knit on the bus, but I’m not willing to wake up even earlier to do so!

  2. Dina September 30, 2009 at 6:18 am #

    I agree with Valerie. I would love to take the bus to get places. I grew up in a city and I hate driving. I took public transportation everywhere and didn’t even have a driving license until I was 25. But that was because it was actually faster than sitting in traffic and driving and then dealing with parking whenever I got to where I was going. None of those things are an issue in the Triangle, not to mention the very nature of the “triangle” makes everything so spread out. I applaud the effort and those who can make it work with their living/working locations. But for most Triangle residents, a bus doesn’t work. The pain of driving isn’t great enough to not drive your own car to get there. The only way I would take public transit would be in the form of a train that could get me to Chapel Hill or Durham faster than I could drive there OR that could get me to popular nightlife activities (Franklin Street, American Tobacco, etc) so I wouldn’t have to worry about drinking & driving.

  3. John Martin September 30, 2009 at 6:23 am #

    Hey Ginny! Thanks so much for the shout-out! Yesterday was “Rack & Ride” day as part of the Try Transit Week, which claimed that if you ride your bike to the bus stop and put it on the rack, you could ride free. I didn’t notice any surge in that practice, but thought, “It’s a darn good thing.” I’ve not yet seen one bus that can accommodate more than two bikes on the rack that’s in front of the buses for them. I mean, even if five people took advantage of that (on one bus), it would be a problem.

    Again, thanks for the mention and for paying for my rides to and from work each day–as a taxpayer, of course. :-)

  4. Rob E. September 30, 2009 at 7:59 am #

    The bus system is tricky. I have to agree that the way this city is spread out, and the way that one of the main center of employment is removed from all the cities, makes any alternative transportation a challenge, but I encourage people to try. For my part, I chose my house with the bus system in mind. Then my office moved a couple of miles closer to my home, and a 30 minute bus ride became a 90 minute one as I had to take one bus downtown and a 2nd bus back out to my office. Then my office moved back, but the bus route changed, making it about 45 minutes to work. The office is scheduled to move again in a couple of years, making it necessary to transfer again and probably doubling my commute again. Even so, between biking and bussing, I have managed to leave my car parked, sometimes for weeks at a time, and I feel no loss of independence. It can be done, but sadly it takes more effort than a “Try Transit Week” ad campaign can solve. Efficient public transportation should provide more advantages to the average user than disadvantages, and I don’t think we’re there yet.

  5. Diana September 30, 2009 at 10:36 am #

    Would you give it a try for a free Latte?

  6. Tanner Lovelace September 30, 2009 at 11:01 am #

    I’d love to be able to take the bus sometimes, but last I checked it would take me a minimum of 3 hours and 4 buses to get from home to work! And that’s just one way! (In fact, once when I tried to use their routing web application, it told me to get off at Wade Ave and walk back down I-40 to Harrison Ave to catch another bus!) It may be ok if you’re staying within the same town, but going by bus between the various towns of the triangle is sadly a recipe for pain.

  7. Jay September 30, 2009 at 5:59 pm #

    Apparently, living within 4 miles of RTP precludes me from actually being able to take any bus to work, anywehere without driving to a bus stop or walking to one.

  8. Smitty September 30, 2009 at 6:22 pm #

    This is so sad. Is no one willing to sacrifice just a bit for clean air and less congestion on our freeways? I know we need rapid rail, and I know there are no bus shelters and most routes are horribly placed due to scant ridership, but do you actually think it will improve unless the powers that be see that some people – especially the thought-leaders who read this blog – will think of SOMEthing besides their own comfort for a single day?? Here we have a chance to show that we’re ready to be a large, better managed, cutting edge urban space, with the public transportation options that come along with it. I hope the Obama/Perdue administration triples the fuel taxes, just so it will force more people to ride, rather than take their cars. Sadly, since everyone here is self-focused, that may be the only way things will change.

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