06 May 7 Things I’ve Learned Riding Transit in Phoenix
Some people think driving a car is the only way to get around Phoenix. With our sprawl and less-than-luxurious transit service, that’s true in some cases. Many of my Downtown Phoenix friends get around almost exclusively by bike. But for me, living 16 miles out and working in the heart of Downtown, riding the RAPID bus to work is a blessing. Here are some things I’ve learned along the way.
1. Travel light
Cars let you carry all kinds of things “just in case.” Clothes, blankets, chairs, tote bags, snacks, books on their way to the library, yard sale leftovers headed for Goodwill. It’s lazy and wasteful, adding weight and reducing your miles per gallon. Riding transit, I think about today and carry only what I need. It makes me feel stronger and more self-sufficient.
2. Be on time or catch the next one
Before you cuss the bus driver who didn’t wait for you to run out of the coffee shop, remember there may be 60 people already in the bus who have places to go too. Taking transit reminds us we are not the center of the universe, and that’s not a bad thing to remember.
3. Dress for the weather
Unlike going from an air conditioned house to an air conditioned car to an air conditioned office, you’re guaranteed to be outside at least part of the time. I have a “bus bag” I grab on my way out the door that holds a book, a fan, and an umbrella. Plan ahead and enjoy the fresh air.
4. “Make way”
This old fashioned term refers to sharing space with your fellow travelers. In life, and on the bus, it’s best to get out of the doorways and aisles and make room for others. Your backpack will be happy in your lap or on the floor between your feet. The seat beside you is for a passenger. Riding on a bus or train I feel more a part of society, less alone.
5. Bring a book
Let’s be honest. Public transit is public, and sometimes members of the public misbehave (though heaven knows I never do). Having your nose in a book and/or headphones in your ears are well respected “Do Not Disturb” signs.
6. Take a breath
For some people, taking the bus or train feels like a loss of control. We think having a car nearby lets us come and go as we please, respond to emergencies, get places quickly. In reality the “emergencies” rarely occur, yet we put up with the aggravation and expense of driving because it’s what we’re used to. Riding transit takes more of an “I’ll be there when I get there” mindset. But guess what? I always get where I’m going, and I spend a lot of time reading the news, playing games, and relaxing while someone else drives.
There’s often more than one way to get from Point A to Point B. Some are faster, others more scenic. If you don’t like one route, try another. Throw in a bicycle for the last mile and you can get practically anywhere!
When I started riding the bus to work, I had lots of questions. What if my kid got sick at school? What if an unexpected meeting popped up? What if I worked late and missed the last bus home? Then I discovered my employer offers a guaranteed ride home in case of true emergencies (of which I have had 1 in 8 years). Impromptu meetings rarely occur and those that do can be held by phone. And pssst – the impending arrival of the last bus is a great excuse to duck out of meetings that run too long. I guess it’s all in your point of view.