Thursday, October 30, 2008

Kudos to Asheville Transit Drivers

Hail to the Bus Driver
The passengers applauded as the aeroplane touched down,
But no-one claps the driver of the bus to Blanchardstown.
He pulls up to the bus-stop, but there’s no-one there reacts,
He doesn’t get the kudos that the airline man attracts.
So next time that the fifty five pulls into Heuston Station,
Let’s give the poor old driver a magnificent ovation.

by Peter Goulding

I was trying to find a little ditty to celebrate the bus driver and found this one with an Irish flavor.

I realized I hadn't really said anything in praise of the Asheville Transit drivers yet in my blog. But since I've been riding the bus, the drivers have been great. Always professional, competent, calm...

So thanks, Asheville transit drivers! Kudos and a "magnificient ovation" to ya!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

the credit crisis

There is bad news for public transit in the most recent edition of USA Today.

You can read the whole article here.

After you've read that, I highly recommend that you take a look at Bus Chick's angle on the subject. Be sure to read Bus Chick's October 24 post.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Quiet Rainy Friday on the Bus

Very quiet on this bus this morning. I wasn't ready til 8:15, so I dashed out the door in the drizzle. I took an umbrella, but still felt surprisingly light. I was sure the Brevard Rd. bus had already gone by, since it was so late. Just as well. I wanted to walk up to West End Bakery and get a muffin anyway. I can then catch the #1 bus right across the street. As I was walking, at 8:18, the Brevard Rd. bus passed me. Told ya before, it's really variable!

So the rain had all of us quiet this morning. The only flurry of sound was when we started into Pisgah View, I saw someone running for the bus. No one else saw her, not even the driver!! This was so exciting for me...I pointed and said, "Hey, (sputter, sputter)"...or something like that. Fortunately a young man looked, and then yelled: "Someone's trying to catch the bus." So an older lady in a green raincoat and carrying a red umbrella caught up with us. And all was quiet again.

After I got to work I realized why I had felt so light this morning. I didn't bring the leftovers that I had intended to eat for lunch! Fortunately, Ken (it's his day off) and Walter were coming into town, so they brought them to me!

Who Says Americans Won't Ride Mass Transit? (article)

I saw this article from Salon posted on a bus-riding blog that I just found. Here's the link:

The blog I found it on is called Bus Chick, Transit Authority. Isn't that a great name! The link to that blog is in the list of blogs at right. (She's in Seattle).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Blizzard Tech Guy, Loud Pater Familias and a Soggy-Bottomed Purse

This is Thursday and I haven't driven my car at all this week. Monday was the first time that I rode the bus at 8:30 at night and walked down Brevard road by myself in the dark. But it was okay. It looks like I can also ride the bus tomorrow. So, a full week of bus riding. Woo-hoo!

We missed the Brevard Road bus on Tuesday. We got out there around 8:08 I think. We always shoot for 8:00. We saw it going past just as we got out of the house. This bus is really variable. Sometimes it is there by 8:08. But sometimes, like Wednesday morning, it was 8:18! Anyway, missing it isn't such a big deal, because we still have plenty of time to walk up to Haywood Rd. and catch the #1 at 8:35. The only drawback, when we do that, is that we are a few minutes late to work.

Each group of passengers gives the day's bus ride a different flavor. Tuesday evening's ride was loud, mainly due to BlizzardTech guy. He is a regular rider and has a very sonorous voice. It's really quite a beautiful voice. Unfortunately, what he chooses to talk about is usually pretty annoying. Tuesday he spent most of the ride complaining that his nipples were sore because someone had twisted them. (His off button needed to be twisted!) Anyway, I wish someday he would break out into an uplifting speech (or an a cappella solo) of some sort. He was rapping one time, but again, the subject matter left a lot to be desired.

The other morning we were regaled by a loud Pater Familias. We learned that he has 8 kids. The youngest, who is 18, goes to Asheville High, where Pater Familias had been called in recently to take care of something. He also has 8 grandkids. One of the little kids on the bus came and sat by him and Paterfamilias kept insisting: "Get yo thumb out yo mouth."

The same morning of the Paterfamilias, one of the young women hauled her toddler onto the bus, carrying him by one arm.

A few of the rides this week have been totally quiet. I still haven't gotten to the point where I read during the commute. Maybe the novelty will wear off soon, but so far it is fun to people watch and to overhear (otherwise known as eavesdropping--but when people are yelling is it really eavesdropping?)

And finally, this morning, I was walking down the street. My leg started feeling a little damp. It turns out that my water bottle was leaking inside my cloth purse and dripping out onto the sidewalk. It's the middle of the day and my pants are still damp. My purse is still wet. All the junk inside my purse is damp. All the little receipts and papers that litter my purse are wet beyond recognition!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Purple Transit: LaZoom at LEAF

Well, even though we aren't taking public transportation to get to LEAF there are at least two of us in the car and once we get there we are riding the shuttle from the Owen Middle School parking lot on out to LEAF...not exactly mass transit...nor is it public transit, but better than a bunch of cars with one or two people in them all converging out at LEAF. Their shuttle is none other than our own LaZoom, the big purple bus (biodiesel!) that we see downtown all the time. We watched LaZoom being conceived and researched at the library so feel sort of like godparents or maybe aunts and uncles! It's like a festive lounge inside.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Almost Off the Wagon, Into the Car

Oh boy. This week has not been much of an alternative transportation week for me. On Monday, I felt rotten and it was my late day at work, plus I went in even later because of feeling bad. So I drove. This was the first time I had driven alone to work since I started this experiment!

Tuesday we both rode the bus. Wednesday, we did carpool in together, but I had to shop after work for my job this year at LEAF. So Ken took the bus home, while I burned gas. Thursday I was off work to spend the day with my daughter, Kimzey! That was wonderful, but we did have some places to go by car that weren't on the bus route. Animal Haven, to see the pigs, for one thing! (That's Kimzey in the picture!) Then, to burn the final few gallons of gas, I drove to Marion to pick up my son, Nathan. This morning, Ken and I drove in together, but I'll be leaving at 1:30. To use more gas.

Speaking of driving, I really hadn't been used to driving much in town for a month or so, and it seemed crazy yesterday being behind the wheel in what seemed like lots of traffic. Stopping, starting...where did all that traffic come from!?

I have high hopes that next week will be more normal and that I will be back to bus riding most of the days.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

bus for LEAF?

The LEAF festival is this coming weekend, near Black Mountain. Will The Asheville Transit buses be making trips to the shuttle stops for LEAF?

LEAF can be a fun weekend, but as day visitors know, parking at LEAF can be very difficult. I bet there will be hundreds if not more than a thousand Ashevillians making a day trip to LEAF.

So, what's the plan? Drive to LEAF and use the shuttle? Or take a city bus out to the shuttle point, then pick up the (free) LEAF shuttle? I think a bus trip out to LEAF would be nice.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bit of Biker News from The New York Times

Buried in the Bailout Bill is a teeny benefit meant to encourage people to ride their bikes to work:

"Starting next year, employers who provide bike parking, bathing facilities, tune-ups, or other support for bicycle commuting, can deduct up to $20 a month per participating employee from their own taxable income..."

It ain't much. It's really tiny. Maybe even trivial? But as the writer says, it's an acknowledgement and a step in the right direction.

Now for more bike lanes and more careful, responsible, non-hostile automobile drivers!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Rainy Day on the Bus

Yesterday evening's ride home was interesting. It was rainy and messy. I couldn't leave work early, but I wanted to try to get the 5:30 bus so I wouldn't have to wait half an hour for the next one. At 5:30, I hurriedly scrounged an umbrella from Lost and Found. When I got out to the street, I discovered that the one I had grabbed was in tatters. I ran back in with it, dropped it in a trash can and tried again. The second one had a big hole in it, but even though it too was trash can fodder, I was determined to make it work. I saw the bus pulling in just as I got to the station. I was relieved, but a bit wet, especially the bottoms of my pant legs and this dampened my mood.

When the moms and kids got on from the daycare center, there was at least one young mom in a very bad mood. There were a lot of loud, sharp reprimands to the little ones. I can certainly identify, because when my kids were little, I had my frazzled moments. I probably never yelled this at my 3-year-old, however: "Wipe yo' damn face." I might have thought it, but never yelled it. When they got to their stop, the mom hoisted her son up by the neck of his jacket (scruff of the neck springs to mind) and yanked him off the bus. She told her other little one to jump.

We zoomed on down Haywood Rd. Suddenly, I was knocked in the head. "Sorry lady," the young woman behind me said, lurching over me to hit the yellow "next stop" strip. I said, "You could have asked me to hit it for you." I doubt she heard.

I wonder if all rainy days on the bus are like this?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

cars and buses

Yesterday I drove the car. I saw no way around it; the boy had a scouts meeting at 6:00. I picked him up at 5:45, and whisked him straight to the meeting. Whilst he met, I ran in North Asheville. After that, we went straight home.

Today's another story. After putting the boy on the school bus at 7:30ish, I walked home, got my act together, and made it to the bus stop at 8:10. The bus was late! I wish I could have known! In my haste to leave, I may have left some unfinished bidness in the house. Today was my first day to flash my County ID. I stepped up onto the bus and showed the ID. The Asheville Transit bus driver knew exactly what was up. He waved me onto the bus without even a pause.

Sherry is catching a ride home.

I'm happy about this: I will get my sports fix tonight. Then I will either bum a ride or run back to the west side.

Weather has been so nice lately. I wonder if our busriding habits will fall off during the winter. I hope not, but I expect that the prospect of standing outside in 20/30/40 F weather sounds a lot more pleasant than it is.

I heard about this nonprofit on NPR today. See what you think.

Three Weeks and How's It Going?

It's been 3 weeks now, so I think it is time for some reflection about how my experiment is progressing. I'm pleased to say that, as far as work goes, I have succeeded so far. I've managed to ride the bus or carpool every day. Adapting to the bus schedule has become much less chaotic!

Leisure activities on weekends are harder. For instance, I wanted to see Obama in Asheville this Sunday. I would gladly have ridden the bus, but there is no bus service on Sunday. So I did drive to that. I parked a mile away, but still, I drove my car into town. I also combined two shopping trips with it. I would have combined one more, but Amazing Savings is not open on Sunday. I am having serious Amazing Savings withdrawal, but I'm probably saving money by not rushing out every few days to Amazing Savings to see what I can buy to save money!

Having my consciousness raised about how much I use a car is a real drag. I really don't like to think about it. At the same time, I am happy to be using public transportation. I just wish it were a little more convenient. For me, it couldn't be cheaper, now that I can flash my county ID and get a free bus ride! So that's great!

Here is a link to an Asheville bus entry on a blog that Ken found:

Friday, October 3, 2008

relaxed Friday

It's been a good week for getting around. The van has been idle in the driveway since Sunday (Desperate Housewives airs on Sundays).

First, the bus riding: Tuesday and Wednesday were bus-riding days. I'm getting the hang of riding #9 from Brevard Road. It's a shame there's not a bus stop near the house, but the drivers are always very nice, and they stop for us.

I've used the Corolla a bit, but not to get to work. Tuesday I drove it a few miles to a ride-share. We meet at a spot, then carpool down to Fletcher to play some volleyball. We would play in Asheville, but Asheville Parks and Recreation saw fit to cancel the league games here. On the one hand, driving to Fletcher burns a lot of gas. On the other hand, we managed to pack nine adults into two vehicles. I put about six more miles on the Corolla just going back and forth to the carpool spot.

Oh yes, here's another 100+ miles I had forgotten about... Sherry and Nathan went to Franklin yesterday. They took the Corolla. Well, it's better than driving the van.

I'm happy to have the day off today.

I put perhaps another six miles (I'm guessing) on the Corolla today. I was invited for a panel discussion at Erwin Middle School. Surely there's no way to get to EMS without driving (I've never seen a runner on New Leicester Highway. I value my health and life too much to run that road). I drove out there and back. It was a lot of fun.

Speaking of running, I went out for a run in West Asheville around noon. I usually run early in the morning, but today looked like a good day for a later run (temp this morning was 37 F). The temperature at 11:30 was fine, but the traffic, geez. I did not remember the traffic being so bad in WA that time of day. Please, if you see a runner in the road, treat him like a cyclist. Give him a wide berth. If he's on the sidewalk or in a crosswalk, realize that he's a pedestrian.

Drivers usually ignore the crosswalks on Haywood Road, particularly the one near Burgermeister. Folks, this is a state law. Drivers must stop for a pedestrian in the crosswalk. Having said that, Pedestrians, hear me: don't plan on ANY drivers stopping at the Burgermeister crosswalk for you-- for practical purposes, it may as well not exist.

I walked up to Haywood Road (I am blogging this from the West End Bakery--the Chocolate/Ginger muffin is tasty), where I can combine a lot of errands. It's a crisp, sunny day--ideal for a walk, a perfect fall day. It's sunny and cool. The trees on Vermont Ave. still have their leaves, but not for long. All in all, it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

Do you live in a neighborhood? I recommend you take a walk through it.

Be careful in the crosswalks.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Thanks, Buncombe County!

Good news for Buncombe County employees! Starting next week we can ride the bus for free. I'm like a kid at Christmas, even though I just spent $15 for an October bus pass. I'll consider that $15 a donation for a good cause.

So if any Buncombe County employee on a bus route reads this blog, I challenge you to try riding the bus a few times and see what you think. Have a positive attitude and give it a chance! Also, if you're not a Buncombe County employee, why not start asking your employer if he/she will provide you with a bus pass! A nice, relatively inexpensive perk that is socially responsible!

I am leaving carbon footprints all over the place today, as I am driving for the first time in awhile. I am off work and am going to visit my Mom in Franklin. I hope I can find gas. I tried at Sams, which had regular, but when I got to the pump, I found out my membership is out of date and I don't really want to renew. I'll get back on the bus tomorrow.