Thursday, February 08, 2007

Making lemonade...

I woke up to a plate full of lemons this morning.

The always too-early alarm wasn't much of a problem, and neither was the malfunctioning beard trimmer. I didn't really mind the cold either.

But things started to go downhill when I remembered that Abbzug's car was parked behind mine in the driveway. Normally, this isn't problem, because we usually leave around the same time. This morning, however, I had planned to get an early start and her car stood in my way.

No problem, right? I can just move it to the street. Unfortunately, the street was pretty packed with cars and the closest open spot was a long way from our house. Just a minor inconvenience, though.

The major inconvenience didn't become evident until I tried to start her car ... to no avail. After much pushing (now the cold was bothering me), I managed to create enough space to maneuver my car around hers, without resorting to the "garden route." With Abbzug's Subaru stranded in our driveway, she drove me to work and returned home to wait for the tow truck.

As I walked up the stairs -- my normal choice, though on this morning the large crowd in the lobby indicated that our building's elevator "problems" were still not resolved (they get stuck ... a lot) -- I decided today would be a good day to have my first first-hand experience with Howard Transit. I would ride the bus home.

The final verdict: Not bad.

I walked out of the American City building at 4:50 pm in order to catch the 5 pm Brown A bus back to Oakland Mills. The county's main bus hub is at the Mall, next to Sears. I walked up the hill just in time to see my bus pull into the already-crowded loading area (all the buses meet up at the Mall at the top of every hour).

There were plenty of folks waiting, loading or unloading -- normal bus stop activity. I paid my $1.50 fare and hopped right onto my bus -- and out of the cold -- with about seven other riders, most of whom were younger (late teens, early 20s) and African American.

After waiting a couple of minutes (until exactly 5 pm), we, like the numerous other green buses, were off. We rode stop-less on Little Patuxent Parkway/Rt. 175/Rouse Parkway to Thunder Hill Road, where we made a left to go to the Columbia Medical Plan campus. This stop is kind of out of the way (we had to cross back over 175 immediately after it) and no one got off or on, leading me to conclude that it is a pointless stop.

A few passengers disembarked at the village center before we arrived at my stop near Kilimanjaro Road. I got off and walked the rest of the way home (less than half of a mile away).

In all, the trip took about 40 minutes door-to-door, split evenly between walking and riding. Looking back, it probably would have taken less time (and cost less) for me to just walk home from the office (about 1.5 miles), but it wouldn't have been quite as comfortable.

I wish I could say I gained some significant insight about transit, but I didn't. It was a bus. It took me where I needed to go in a reasonable amount of time and with few inconveniences, which, today, is more than I can say for the automobile.


Anonymous said...

"...the Columbia Medical Plan campus. This stop is kind of out of the way (we had to cross back over 175 immediately after it) and no one got off or on, leading me to conclude that it is a pointless stop."

Pointless unless you either work at that campus, have suffered an injury that prevents driving but still requires follow-up visits, or are at a point in life where it is safer to use public transit than to drive and also need medical care. One ride does not a statistically valid sample of a particular stop's worthiness make.

A bike ride, if dressed well enough, would have provided a much quicker, more direct, and much cleaner commute.

Hayduke said...

Hey, don't lecture me about misusing anecdotal evidence! That's my schtick.

The remark was not entirely serious.

numbers.girl said...

I can't believe you took pictures...

I'd love the option of riding a bus. Who do I have to lobby for a shuttle between my house and Mt. Airy? or my house and the mall?

FreeMarket said...

Hayduke, be honest. How tempted were you to sing The Who song, “Magic Bus” the whole way home?

Hayduke said...

I don't wanna cause no fuuussss...