On snowy cold days, when school is cancelled and many stay home from work, I am grateful that we have public transit. Buses are large, heavy, driven by skilled drivers who know how to navigate the slippery roads. I never worry how I will get anywhere when the buses are running, only that my wife will be able to get out of our subdivision to pick me up where the bus will leave me.
Buses are a wonderful way to travel, they take away the stress of driving, the expense of gas, the frustration of finding a parking spot, and they provide a social environment to meet new people. Moreover, there is the added benefit of knowing you are being good to the earth, a green lifestyle always includes a bus pass.
And yet when people hear that I bus around the city the first question they ask is, “do you drive” or “do you own a car?” It’s like they think something is wrong with me. Despite all the evidence that busing is the better way to go it is treated like a strange behaviour. People look at professionals like me who take the bus with a mixture of contempt and pity. I can see them looking in my eye and wondering what disability I am hiding, perhaps I can’t drive because when I see a yellow sign I want to howl like a dog? That is precisely the look I get, I am tempted to play along, pretend there is something about me that makes driving a danger for all concerned. (See the Woody Allen segment in Annie Hall, an early Christopher Walken.)
While it is true that I do walk to the beat of a different drummer the decision to take the bus is in fact a logical, even reasonable one. It just makes sense on every level. The bus pass the church provides saves them money, much cheaper than paying me per kilometre. It provides an extra parking space next the office. It gets me out in the community more, it puts me in contact with the people as I walk to the bus stop, stand there waiting. And contrary to the public perception the bus does not take longer. Case in point is getting to the hospital. If I drive I must go to the QE11 parking lot, pay for this, find a spot, and walk through the garage to the elevator, and so on. If I walk to the West End Mall that is 10 minutes. Timing it just so I immediately step on the #1 bus that takes me to Summer Street in 15 minutes. Then it is a quick walk to the Summer Street entrance and the next thing you know I am at the bedside of a parishioner.
Walking is also very good for us and the short walk to the bus stop and from the destined bus stop to the home where I am going, also a short walk. At 53 these short, fast walks, are very good for my body, my heart, my weight. I can also be thinking of my sermons, ideas for church, I am free to consider other things when I am not behind the wheel of a car.
My spouse has the car, we live in the suburbs, so she needs the car to transport our daughter and attend to daily chores. So instead of two cars, we have one. A huge money saver! Also reduces our green footprint.
This is one person who will never grieve losing my licence, when that times comes. I’ll even get to sit in those senior seats near the front. Oh the perks!