19 June 2008


Met a friend for coffee today, so took the 6:57AM 81N.

An easy, uneventful, over-air conditioned ride with lots of new-to-bus-riding passengers.

In this new age of high fuel costs and increased emphasis on public transportation, the inquiring mind wants to know - do bus drivers take the bus to work?

18 June 2008


Yesterday afternoon I wanted to take the 3:45PM 81S. A wee bit late leaving the office, I hustled to the transit center at College and University and waited. And waited. And waited. Hustling in 112+ degrees leaves the body hot and sweaty. Standing about and waiting in 112+ degrees only makes things worse. After two bottles of water and watching dozens of 72s and a couple of 81Ns come and go, a bus finally turned the corner . . . and the sign read "81 ASU Research Park" - at last!

Stepping on the bus, I knew instantly, this bus had not been long on the road. That lovely new car/bus smell drifted through the air - the fixtures gleamed and the floor, pristinely clean. The newest of the new, no forward facing seats existed in the front lower section - only two long lines of seats facing each other - similar to an underground/subway car, only padded and comfy. The mezzanine level configured like all other buses. I sat right-front, next to the wheel cover, and marveled at the beauty. I decided they must have unpacked the bus just before sending it on our route as, I swear, I found bits of styrofoam dust on the wheel cover.

The trip began and it ran like a dream. No bumps, grinds, squeals, squalls or other ear-splitting, body bruising events. It rode as though on a cloud. Best of all, instead of cords along the window tops to pull and signal a stop, they put buttons on all the vertical support bars - even near the front door! Such a brilliant move and I could hardly wait for my chance to push for my stop. My dilemma - which button to push? With a pole on the wheel cover and a pole immediately to my left, I waited until the last minute and then reacted - left! I pushed the button on the left pole! The signal rang and the bus glided smoothly to a stop.

What a ride.

09 June 2008

Iris Infiniti

Took the 6:57am 81N today, but need to write about Friday.

As previously discussed, gas prices continue to climb with $60+ tank fill-ups the new standard. As a loyal, almost 3-year bus rider, I rarely experience the pain of fuel costs and avoid the heart-stopping effect of large digits at the pump. Friday, I learned that, apparently, some of my co-workers, too, discovered the frugality of the bus.

With some errands to run, I decided to drive to work on Friday. Quite possibly only the 3rd or 4th time my car has been to ASU in the past 3 years, I just decided to drive. When exiting the building, two women who work in our college passed by as I came out the door. We exchanged greetings and the one woman noted my car keys in my hand.

"Driving?" she asked.

"Yes," I said, "decided to leave the bus at home and bring the car today."

"Well . . ." she said, through pursed lips, "WE'RE taking the bus home. See you later." and off they walked (or stalked!).

I was flummoxed. Loyal, persistent, bus-blogging, public transportation advocate and I had just been trumped by a couple of Green Queen Wannabes! Any passerby hearing the tone of her voice would take me as a spendthrift, panda-hunting, child-spanking, carbon monoxidng eviledoer. Of all the nerve! Bandwagon jumpers!

I hope they had a good trip on the bus and I also hope there might exist a great big ledger somewhere that contains the tally of all my bus riding days. I hope, I hope.

03 June 2008

#6441 then 6452

About last night's ride home . . . took the 3:45PM 81S, which arrived at ~3:57PM with the engine cover in a raised position - foreshadow? At 3:45PM on Monday in the summer, rush hour traffic generally doesn't exist, so it seemed the 81S delay probably originated in the engine. A new driver got on and we took off. Things seemed OK until we got to McClintock and the 60 - stopped at the light and could barely go forward after sitting. The driver nursed it along but it choked and died in front of Fry's, just before Baseline. The driver got out, fiddled in the engine area, came back, re-started the bus but lights and warnings told him problems still existed. Fortunately, the 4:00PM 81S appeared in the distance and our driver had us all get off so we could catch the next bus - a totally painless delay. Before I knew the next bus approached, I tossed around the idea of walking home - about 1.25 miles - but the temperature hovered around 101 degrees and my shoes left something to be desired for distance use. So glad I didn't take off down the street.

An interesting/positive note about that ride. A man with a bicycle sat in front of me and I heard him tell the lady sharing the seat that he lived in Chandler, but worked in Scottsdale. He said with gas prices on the rise ($4.01/gal today), he now bikes to and from the bus and loves it. Said it adds about 20 minutes to each commute, but he has no stress from driving and gets much needed exercise! Hope more people follow his lead.