Bus Ride

Transit bus
Image via Wikimedia

If you have not already noticed, I am worried about climate change.  Everyday I learn more, read more, hear more; every day I am more worried.  It seems crazy that we have gotten ourselves into this situation, and even more crazy that most of us are content to sit idly by while it happens all around us.  However, I do understand why people choose to be bystanders – I was one of them only months ago.  What could I do?  How could I make a difference?  These bad things are going to happen regardless of what I did.  All I could do was just watch it unfold and hope for the best.  Right?

Well, maybe, maybe not. 

Maybe not.

I can do things to effect change in my own life.  I can inch things forward, little by little, by adding my voice to the thousands that are already on the cause.  I can “be the change you want to see in the world”.

It is pretty hard to openly complain about the BP oil spill or the Alberta oil sands, and still jump in my car every time I want to go somewhere.  But it is just so easy to jump in the car.  But how can I complain about oil and still be a rampant user of oil?  It is a double standard and I know it.

But it is hard.  I wrote before of our car culture and its hold on North American society.  I live in a city that is especially spread out, almost the worst urban spawl in Canada according to a recent study.  This makes it difficult to get around without a car.

I was thinking about it, and there are four main areas where I use my car:

  1. Work
  2. Shopping (for just groceries due to my current shopping ban)
  3. Friends and family gatherings
  4. Family activities (for example, my kid’s swimming lessons)

Where could stop using my car?  By far, the easiest to tackle is going to work.  There is a bus that goes through my neighbourhood that heads straight downtown and can deposit me one block from my office. So, beginning in 2011, I have committed to taking the bus to work.

I have not taken the bus in about 10 years, so this was a really new way of transporting myself.  After about 5 weeks, I am happy to report on my experience:

The entire trip takes about 35 minutes, as compared to about 15 minutes by car.  This includes walking 10 minutes in my neighbourhood, and another 5 minutes downtown to my office.  I am enjoying the bit of exercise this provides each day (30 minutes total).  I especially enjoy walking home at night in the quiet streets of my neighbourhood.  I reflect on my day.  I notice how the snow beneath my feet sparkles in the street lights.  I pass by houses, looking warm and cozy inside. I look up at the stars.

However, I am especially enjoying my time spent on the bus.  For the most part, I read.  I seem to never have enough time to read everything I want to read, especially now that I am greening my life from top to bottom.  I have all sorts of books out from the library right now, ranging from gardening, to preserving food to making homemade cleaners. I want to soak up as much information as possible.  My daily bus ride gives me time to do this.

I also enjoy making new connections with strangers.  This may sound odd, I know.  But I have made a commitment to strengthen my everyday connections.  I want to be part of the of glue that holds us all together; so that we can better realize our shared humanity, our shared stake in this world.  So I have conversations.  I recently talked to one man who lost his house in a fire.  I talked to another woman who I happened to work with 10 years ago.  I often talk to the people waiting at the bus stop in my neighbourhood.  I think it is healthy to connect with others, to not just live our separate lives in our separate cars. 

All in all, it has been a good experience.  I will gladly continue to take the bus.  I have even started taking it for other types of trips as well.  It does take longer, yes.

That’s okay.  It gives me more time to relax, reflect and read.


18 thoughts on “Bus Ride

  1. Excellent post ; thank you. I was walking along the street with you for a moment, watching the snow sparkle under our feet 😉 I love how the simple lifestyle choice of taking the bus is not only benefiting the environment, but you’re satisfying your goal of talking to people within your community AND you’re getting some exercise. How does this method of transport compare financially?

    • It is really good all ’round isn’t it… The bus costs $2.85 to ride each way, so a round trip is about half the cost of parking downtown, not to mention the cost of gas and wear and tear on the vehicle. Plus I think I could change my insurance if my vehicle is no longer designated to commute to and from work… Overall – not bad!

  2. It’s so great that you wrote about this, because I often hear people defend their addiction to their cars by claiming that the benefits of exercise, social connections, time for reading, being present and aware of your environment, etc., are overstated and untrue, but you’ve proven the opposite! We need more vocal defenders of the alternatives to driving alone in cars. This year I’m going to try cycling… but I’ll wait until the snow has melted. 🙂

    • The bus is no problemo! Today it was PACKED (it normally isn’t) and there were these two girls on their way to work at a restaurant, and they were talking and just so happy and positive. Their positive energy lit up the whole back of the bus, I swear!!!

  3. LOVE that you are taking the bus! That is great. My daughter’s and I often grocery shop on foot during the warmer three seasons of the year. My husband and I also have made the choice to stay in very little, high MPG cars instead of buying a bigger car even though we now have two kids and a dog that we travel with!
    You have certainly inspired me to look into our bus schedule!
    Thanks for the great post.
    Following through the Green Mama Blog Hop. I am a co-host now and loving it!

    • I have been pondering the grocery shopping by foot or by bus idea. I think it would work if you are stocked up on staples, and only need to get fresh produce and milk. I can walk to the grocery store from where I live, but the ice and snow, combined with heavy food bags and 2 small kids, makes the prospect a bit daunting right now… Maybe in spring!!

  4. What a great thing you are doing!! And to think you have time to just sit and read or knit or whatever. Not only are you helping the environment, but you are allowing yourself time for you! What a great combo and commitment.


  5. Interesting post! I live in a rural area so bus transportation isn’t an option. Wish it was. When I use to live in different cities, I always used public transportation. It’s a great way to get around (not to mention a good way to get caught up on reading or other projects I was working on at the time).

    Found your blog via the GMBH. Am your newest follower.

  6. Is it funny that I miss riding the bus to work? When we lived in an urban city (and I worked outside the home) I used to ride the bus a lot. Now the kids think it is a fun treat to ride to the dentist on the bus. Good for you for making a change in your daily life!

  7. Pingback: Green City | One Earth to Live

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