Thursday, December 13, 2012

In the land of milk and honey

Posted By on Thu, Dec 13, 2012 at 1:17 AM

click to enlarge ashleybusstop1small.jpg

"It's all about money,
There ain't nothing funny.
You can't get by without a car
In this land of milk and honey."

This was sung to me by a man at the bus stop after he overheard a conversation I was having with a friend and fellow rider about not owning cars. He stopped dead in his tracks, sang that rhyme to us a couple of times and then went off about how, in most other cities, you don't need a car anymore; "supposedly even in LA!" Then he carried on walking down the sidewalk, leaving us to discuss and imagine what life would be like if we truly didn't need a car.

Latoya, my new friend, turned to me and said, "I would get to see my boyfriend more often. And I'm sure he'd be a lot happier because he wouldn't have to drive me around so much." (I know this feeling.)

She continued, "I would be able to go anywhere I wanted at any moment I wanted to." (I know this one, too.)

"I could go shopping, to the grocery store, visit friends, stay at work as late as I want, get there on time in the morning and not have to mess with the bus." (Yep, all too familiar.)

The conversation quickly spread to the two other people waiting at the bus stop - the bus that was 25 minutes late - and continued while we were onboard. The bus was packed, which is typical for the #10 at that time of day. This day, however, it was beyond standing room only. It was more like a piled-on-top of-one-another/are-you-sure-this-is-legal? kind of packed.

Behind me I heard a man talking about how crammed the bus was and how he couldn't wait for the increased route frequency so that he wouldn't have to "pack in like a sardine." He knew that the #10 route was getting increased frequency to every twenty minutes instead of every half hour. I was impressed.

Another man loudly chimed in about how IndyGo was hiring drivers if anyone on the bus needed a job. He knew exactly how many job openings there were and where to apply.

And yet another man asked everyone around him whether they had seen the video where the bus driver punched the girl in the face in Cleveland. Although he said the girl fell off the bus instead of being literally thrown off, he had most of the details right.

All in all, I'd say that Indianapolis bus riders are a rather informed group. They know the schedules, route frequency and changes, hiring practices and budget constraints. They also know that the city can do better. They realize that life would be easier given one of two scenarios: either they can get personal vehicles (an expensive option including taxes, registration, insurance, etc) or there could be more frequent and reliable transit in our city. Personally, I err on the side of transit. It's better for the pocketbook and the environment.

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