Thursday, July 10, 2008

Riding The Bus To Work

I decided several months ago that I was tired of making a 62 mile round trip to work and back each day. The rising cost of gas had a lot to do with my decision but there were other factors. We are too dependent on other countries for oil. We've been talking about increasing our use of alternative energy sources but there seems to be more talk than action.

I've been carpooling for several months now. It's worked out pretty well for me but I haven't been able to do it as consistently as I would like to. Earlier this year, I looked into the possibility of taking the bus to work. I found out that it was possible but would require me to be at the bus stop by 5:55 am if I wanted to make it tow work before 8am. My first reaction was that it would be too much of an inconvenience for me. Two weeks ago I decided it was time to give it a try any way. It didn't tun out to be as bad as I anticipated. Yes, it does take me longer to commute but in many ways taking the bus to work has been a positive experience.

Here are a few ways that I've found the experience to be beneficial to me:
  • I'm saving close to $200 a month in gas by taking the bus. This does not include money I'm saving on vehicle maintanence.
  • Part of my commute now requires walking 1-2 miles each day. I enjoy the excercise and also see a few birds along the way.
  • It is much less tiring to be a passenger than it is to be a driver.
  • I bought an mp3 player and listening to music during the bus ride is a great way to pass the time.
  • I get to work early and have found that I am more relaxed by the time my workday starts.

I also enjoy the human element of riding the bus. When you are driving to work, you have to maneuver you way through a sea of automobiles driven by nameless, faceless people. After riding the bus for two weeks I am starting to recognize many of the passengers. You get to know peoples names, where they work and where they live. It's kind of comforting to know that we're all heading off to work together to face the daily grind.

I've also seen a few birds during my morning travels. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • While walking across the Arrigoni bridge last week I was able to watch two Peregrine Falcons in action. One of them screamed across the sky to chase a smaller bird. It seemed to change it's mind and turn away at the last second. Another Falcon landed on the bridge about twenty feet above my head.
  • On the same bridge, two Turkey Vultures flew over my head. They came so close that I could feel the rush of air as they passed over. I also saw a Great Egret below -along the shore of the Connecticut River.
  • I pass through a tobacco field as I walk the last mile to work from where the bus drops me off. Prairie Warblers, Yellow Warblers, Blue-winged Warblers, Eastern Towhees, and American Kestrels are just a few of the species I've seen along the way.

I can't tell you that riding the bus has been a perfect experience for me. It has required that I change some of the habits of my daily routine. It's also taken me some time to become familiar with the bus schedules. I haven't been later to work but I have missed my preferred bus a couple of times. If I don't catch the first bus getting out of work, I have to wait an additional 45 minutes to catch the next one. I would say that using the bus to get to work has been a good decision for me despite some of the challenges. To learn more about riding the bus as a means of transportation in Connecticut click on: Connecticut Transit.


Jayne said...

There are always trade offs I suppose, but it sounds like the pros are outweighing the cons at this point. I admire you for doing this Larry. :c)

Ruth said...

You are an inspiration Larry! The bus passes 2 blocks from my house and my 15 minute commute by car takes 40 minutes by bus. So I don't to save myself almost an hour of travel each day. I have been toying with the idea of taking the bus 1-2 days a week for a start. I don't think I would see many birds on my city route though. Now if the bus had wireless internet...

Unknown said...

In my county some local buses run about an hour apart, even during peak hours. That makes it hard to rely on the bus system outside of cities. If traffic patterns make the bus a little early or late, riders can be out of luck.

troutbirder said...

I like what I'm reading, now if everybody... Oh well. I've basically given up my 120 mile commute to the Mississippi with my fishing boat and returned to trout fishing which is only 10 minutes away and I dont need to use my pickup. The pro are streams in Bluff County are beautiful, full of trout, birds and wildlife. I can't think of any cons at the moment.

Larry said...

jayne-Thanks-I feel that it is worth it. Time will tell.

ruth-It wouldn't hurt to give it a try but it seems you have less to gain by taking the bus than me.I just mentioned the birds because this is a birding blog.

John-The only way to know for sure is to get details of routes and then try it.I looked into all sorts of route combinations before attempting to ride the bus.I certainly had my doubts about it but it seems to be working out for me so far.

troutbirder-It sounds like you must be quite the fisherman. 120 miles does seem like a long commute for fishing. I think a lot of people are stating to change their driving habits.

PapaCoyote said...

Hope you don't mind me making a comment on your blog. I come here via Troubirder. In Idaho we have no mass transit options. Towns are too far apart and there are too few people to make mass transit economical, but, ouch do those monthly gas bills hurt. People in rural states tend to make less money than workers in more urban states, but we must travel much more than urban people, so our gas budget is exhorbitant and we have little recourse. I have decided to become much more intimate with two reservoirs near where I live; one about twenty miles away and the other about forty miles by rough, dirt road. Members of the fly fishing club to which I belong now go fishing in groups of threes and fours and we agree to each give the driver $10 to help pay for the fuel. We trade driving randomly. This seems to work well. As a result there seems to be smaller fish now to tell about. Hmmm, could that be because of the witnesses? One must keep in mind that fishermen don't lie, they just think big! One member did catch a barn swallow on his backcast while flyfishing the Owyhee River last week. We use barbless hooks, so the release went well.

corey said...

Glad you can make the bus work for you! Here in NYC it is much easier to get around by mass transit: when I lived in Albany I never even made the attempt, though if gas prices were then what they are now, well, I probably would have!

Larry said...

Papacoyote-A carpool of fishermen-sound pretty good! We're going to be doing birders carpools more often. I guess the point is that people are starting to consider things like riding the bus or carpooling these days when they wouldn't have bothered two years ago.

corey-I just never bothered to try in the past.It just didn't seem worth the bother but with gas prices the way they are now it is worth the bother.

Sandpiper (Lin) said...

That's really great, Larry! I guess we're lucky that Mr. Sandpiper only has to drive two minutes down the road to get to work. Riding a bike isn't practical in his case for a variety of reasons or I think he would consider it. I have certainly cut back on my driving with gas prices the way they are.

BTW, you commented on my blog that a place on the CT River looked familiar to you. My in-laws lived on Shipyard Rd. in Middle Haddam, which is where the picture was taken.

Anonymous said...

Rewards look promising. Bussing is fun and exciting over here for variety of reasons.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Larry,
Your post brings back fond memories of when I used to ride the bus to work. We always had the best bus drivers and it was fun to become part of the "bus riding family." I know a lot of people who could ride the bus now but don't because of the inconvenience and longer time factors you mentioned, but gosh, isn't saving $200 a month worth it?
(Now if you wanted to learn to knit or crochet you could also save money by creating handmade gifts for all the people on your gift list and putting your bus riding time to more good use!)

Birdinggirl said...

This is great- good for you Larry! I did a 60 mile commute by bus for about a year and it worked out perfectly. I could read, listen to music, or sleep on the way. It was much more relaxing than fighting Boston rush hour traffic.

I've been sporadically ditching my car to walk or jog my current 3-mile commute to work. I can follow the river the whole way so I have beautiful scenery to look at and I get to bird of course!

Keep the bird call videos coming- they've been so helpful. I need to eventually get a good bird call CD. Any recommendations?

Lana Gramlich said...

I'm glad you're saving all that money & seeing birds. :)
When I lived in Toronto public transit was the ONLY way to go. Besides paying too much for an apartment, you'll get charged an extra $100/mo if you want parking, too & even that's no guarantee that they won't tow your darned car out of the lot (as happened to me one day. No apology, no correction. I had to take a day to locate the car & pay $175 to get it back. Not to mention that it's illegal there to tow a car w/o a parking ticket on it, but who wants to go to court on TOP of all that BS?) Fortunately the Toronto transit system's really quite good.

Anonymous said...

From Sri Lanka.

Larry said...

Oh-it's gallisicca! You fooled me with that name title.

Kathie Brown said...

Good for you, Larry! and what a treat to see all those birds! Now if they would just improve the public transit system more people would likely use it. Nice to see you've put a positive spin on things.

Larry said...

Kathiebirds-I wouldn't say it's a great way to see birds but I thought that I'd just add the birds in there.I guess that I'm fortunate that I have a connection to the bus line.

Larry said...

lin-I guess my first choice would be to work near where I live.-Then again-I'd be afraid that they'd always be calling me into work! I thought that view looked familiar.-I believe we visit that road during one of the Christmas counts.

a busser by default-I'm just curious-When you say over here-where are you from?

ruthiej-The day may come when I feel the need to take up a hobby to keep me busy on the bus. For now, I'm happy enough to have an air-conditioned ride and listen to some music.

birdinggirl-That sound like a nice bike route that you take! The few times I've tied to find my way around Boston I've been lost.I remember going past the Fleet Center for a concert and then having to travel through the whole city just to get back to where I started.-I hate that tunnel you have to go through-especially if you get stuck there in the middle of the summer.I hear people say that the stokes bird call cd's are good. I'd stay away from the old Peterson ones because it's too hard to select a track for a single species. I use a program by Thayer called Our Birds Connecticut.I think that you can get one for each state or the whole USA. They have audio/visual quizzes that I find helpful.It would seem too easy for an advanced birder but it works for me.I think it's only for computer though. Everyone else is getting those birdpod type devices so they can call birds out in the field.

lana-I'm hoping that the Connecticut Transit system will improve in time.I'd be pretty upset if I were in your shoes and that stuff happened to me. Not to mention that my feet would probably hurt.