I enjoy pretty much everything there is that has to do with the outdoors. Some of my most peaceful moments have been while walking through the forest, sitting on a beach, or boating (minus the loud engine). Accordingly I have a great respect for nature and enjoy learning about the plants and wildlife therein. My plan is to continue that learning process and hopefully enhance it by sharing what I learn. I intend for this blog to serve many purposes, but in the immediate future it will be a place for me, and hopefully others, to share ideas about reducing our individual impact on this planet, protecting wild spaces, and in general just to comment on the things we enjoy most in the great outdoors. I welcome all opinions as otherwise you cannot consider every aspect of a subject. However, I would ask that every opinion be expressed in a respectful way and considered with an open mind. Often there is no single right answer. Thanks.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Call me crazy, but I like the bus...

In a previous post I mentioned that I was planning on purchasing a bus pass for the month of April.  I followed through with my plan and the kids and I rode the bus to and from school almost every day.  Overall it was a positive experience and I bought another one for the month of May.

From a financial perspective a monthly adult buss pass is $82.50.  However, my daughter, who is almost 8, and my son, who is 5, ride for free when they are with me.  My son would be free anyways because he is under 6, but for my daughter to ride it would cost $1.65 each trip.  At the end of April I did a rough estimate of how many times we had ridden the bus, and how much it would have cost if we had paid per ride.  The end result is that it was definitely worth it to pay for the monthly pass.  To sweeten the deal bus passes are tax deductible and, if you get around to using it, are good for a free admission to any Victoria regional recreation centre.  Also, the money I have saved by not having to fill my gas tank as often more than pays for the $82.50.

Another reason I like the bus pass is the convenience of not having to worry about transfers.  Rather than having to think about timing, or whether I have to switch buses, I just swipe the card every time.  Sometimes on my days off I have dropped the kids off at school and run several errands on the way home.  One particular morning I walked approximately 4 kilometres stopping at a coffee shop, two different banks, a library and finally a grocery store.  I purchased a few items at the grocery store, walked right out front and caught the bus for the remaining 3-4 kilometres home.  After doing this a couple of times I realized that having a vehicle with you can sometimes feel like an anchor.  I like the freedom of knowing that I can keep walking in one general direction and hop on a passing bus if I decide that I am running out of time, the weather turns for the worse, or I have too much to carry.  Furthermore, a couple of my concerns about riding the bus turned out to be unfounded.
I was worried that by dropping the kids off via the bus, then having to catch another bus to get to my job, I would be cutting into my work hours at the beginning and the end.  It turns out that if I head straight for the bus in the morning after the school bell rings I arrive at one of my jobs at exactly the time I need to be there and the other job only about 5 minutes later than normal.  To pick the kids up from school I leave one job at approximately the same time as usual, and with the other job I have three or four different bus options that take me to the general school area.  I lose only a few minutes at the second job and since my husband usually picks the kids up from school on that work day it really makes no difference at all.

The other part that I was not looking forward to was getting up earlier.  Anyone who knows me will confirm that I am definitely not a morning person.  Given that I only have to get up 20 minutes earlier though I cannot really complain.  Also the extra 20 minutes, while I still have to fight to get the kids out the door on time, has resulted in a more relaxed morning routine.  When we take our own vehicle in the morning the out-the-door and drive routine goes something like this:

Me: "Have you brushed your teeth yet?"
Kids: "No" or "I have, but he/she hasn't."
Me: "Come on guys we're running out of time."
Me: "Do you have your shoes on yet?"
Kids: "Not yet."
Me: "We are running out of time, pack your backpacks, get your shoes on, grab your coat."

Then proceeds what feels like the slowest putting on of shoes, and packing of backpacks in the universe as I get increasingly frustrated and my limited patience quickly becomes non existent.  Subsequently I get behind slow drivers and hit nearly every traffic and pedestrian light on the way to school.  We finally arrive to school only to discover that all the really close parking spots are taken and we have to run across the school yard to be on time for class.  Not the best recipe for a calm start to the day. 

In contrast when we take the bus, while the out-the-door frustrations are much the same, once we get to the bus stop everything else is easy.  Someone else drives us to school while I chat with the kids, play rock-paper-scissors, eye-spy, or finish up home reading with my daughter from the night before.  Barring any major bus breakdown, or traffic incident we have a short walk to school and I know that we will arrive about 15 minutes before the bell rings.  We have been reading in the library to pass the time in the morning, or playing sports in the gym with another parent who volunteers to supervise other kids that arrive a little bit early for school.  If the weather ever shapes up we can simply play in the playground while we wait.  I know I feel like a much calmer mother and that translates into a better start for me and for them.

Riding the bus certainly does not work every day, but with little effort on my part I have made the switch and now primarily commute by bus.  In theory it can seem daunting, but public transit is definitely worth taking a closer look at.  Research the options available in your community and you might be surprised to find that it is more convenient than you think, and has some incentives that make it more worth your while.  If you live in the Victoria area check out this BC Transit link for local schedules and try their trip planner to see which bus/buses will get you from Point A to Point B.  Do not forget to take into account the other benefits: Saving money on gas and parking, the favour you are doing your body by getting that little bit of exercise from walking that you might not get otherwise, and, of course, the reduction in your carbon footprint.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to hear it's working out for you and that you guys can 'play on the bus' on the way to school.

    That trip planner link is also very useful, thanks! I don't know how many times I wished there was something like that years ago when I rode the bus!!!