After the post about car music recently, I’ve been thinking about public transport. You know, I really don’t like listening to music when I’m out walking. I suppose that’s just because I like to pay attention to what’s going on around me, even on routes I know well. Headphones get in the way of that, just a little.
Now, I’d happily listen to something on a bus, but I was struck recently by how infrequently I actually ever take the bus. I fully admit that would probably change I was in a position where I had to do a commute, but I think it’s worth examining anyway.
So first of all, I’ve identified the 2 main destinations I have. First is the supermarket, which I drive to. Before I got a car, I took the bus and it wasn’t all that practical. I was limited to what I could carry so I had to make multiple trips per week instead of the once and done I do now.
Second is downtown. That is obviously well served by transport links, yet I almost always choose to walk in. I don’t drive in, it’s expensive to park and stops me drinking. I don’t take the train as I’m close enough to the CBD that walking to the nearest station is only a km or so closer than walking directly there. Walking has a lot of advantages: it’s healthy and the route goes through a nice park.
There’s also a bus. In fact, from the top of my road there’s 3 that go downtown, 2 of which are special high frequency routes. Most buses here are what I would consider infrequent – either every hour or every 30 minutes – but I used to live in London which had the density to support buses every 3-5 minutes. They can’t match that here, but the Link buses run every 10-15 minutes.
You might expect that although I favour walking, I’d definitely take the bus when it’s raining? That would be wrong. The route where I am is crippled by having to go through a narrow, busy shopping street. There’s no bus lanes and when weather’s bad the increase in traffic brings it to a virtual standstill. The usual 10 minute ride is so delayed that walking gets me there faster. It’s amazing.
I will usually take the bus home from downtown. After a little drinking I don’t feel like the exercise of walking as much! That occasionally goes as it’s supposed to; I arrive at the stop, wait a few minutes then a bus shows up. It seems more common to have to wait 20-30 minutes for a bus to arrive, which given the supposed 15 minute frequency is pretty impressive. I have no idea where they’re losing entire buses!
I suppose I can’t complain too much. One always shows up eventually, the ride back is usually short and uneventful and the fares aren’t expensive. I just wish the buses were more reliable, I’d be more inclined to take them. I suspect I’m not alone.