Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Thursday miracle

I have two bikes - a speedy one-year old hybrid, and a clunky old gear-slipping rust bucket of a mountain bike that serves as back-up. This morning however I was in the unfortunate situation of having left both bikes in the storage room at work, leaving me with a commuting conundrum.

I know I've mentioned this before, but I HATE taking the bus. I need to take two to get to work, the first one heading North from a stop about 2 blocks from my house. I don't always manage to get on the first bus that comes by. Or the second. Sometimes I have to walk South for a couple of blocks and get on the bus closer to its departure point. Anyone trying to get on between my stop and the intersection with the main East-West transportation corridor (24 blocks away) is SOL during rush hour.

And the bus stops TWICE on every single one of those 24 blocks. Once for traffic lights, and once for the bus stop. (Why do they have to have them on every single block?) So we repeatedly lurch forwards and then come to a juddering stop, pitching people into each other like drunken sardines in a can. (I never get a seat. No reading on the bus for me, just the pleasure of having my face crammed into someone's armpit).

I usually get on the first connecting Westbound bus, but not always. And I show up at work all dishevelled and pissed off.

BUT! There is a new East-West bus route! It starts at the existing Skytrain system in the East (light rail to downtown and Eastern suburbs), goes right past my house, connects to the soon-to-open downtown-airport Skytrain route, swings North to take me within 6 blocks of work, then carries on to the main University campus that I need to visit every now and then. The Eastbound stop is 1 block away from my house, and the Westbound stop is 2 blocks away.

It was funny to see how Mr E Man and I reacted to the pamphlet that got pushed through our door a few months ago, telling us about this new service. Mr E Man was worried about the noise of the buses* and the potential of having a bus stop right outside our house**, whereas my reaction was "only every 15 minutes during the week?! And less on weekends?!"

I guess they have to start off that way to build a passenger base before expanding the service, because - wonder of wonders - I got a seat this morning! On my first time trying the route! Not that I had enough time to read much, seeing as I got to my work stop in 9 minutes flat. See, that's what happens if you leave 2 - 5 blocks between stops. (Including waiting for connections, the old route takes more like 20 - 30 minutes). Not only that but there was a cute little boy on the bus who insisted on saying goodbye to each of us in turn when his Mum made him get off, and I saw two cute dogs being walked and another cute kid (waving to me from a window) on the short walk to work.

I arrived at work with a smile on my face. Bus bliss - who'd a thunk?

*turns out they don't start running until 6 am on weekdays, later on weekends. So we're already up when they start, and they're super quiet anyway.

**justified - people throw enough garbage over our fence as it is, thank you. Although this doesn't seem to have got any worse since the stop 1 block away went into operation.


  1. I would love to know what bus # that is. If I was on the bus today, I would've sworn that it was my little monkey. He has to say bye bye see you to everyone. twice

  2. You know what, the ethnicity of the mother and son matched yours... it was the 33, just before 9 am yesterday. They (you?!) got off somewhere on Cambie I think (I wasn't paying that much attention). Let me know - how hilarious would that be?!

  3. As a former Londoner, every 15 minutes is something I still cannot get used to. If I got to a tube station platform and found the indicator board saying 6 minutes till the next tube that would instantly ruin a journey home. As someone who used to live on the main campus, it was awful how there would be so many buses in the weekday and then on the weekend, forget it! The 33 doesn't even run on a weekend and most of the others stop short or have radically reduced frequency.

    But yes, I too dislike bus days (today). It takes literally twice as long and is no fun.

  4. I'm not a fan of the bus, but it sounds like this route was amazing! Bus bliss, huh? Wonders of wonders!

  5. It wasn't me, but it would've been too funny if it was! Once the monkey gets into the main campus daycare I will start taking the bus.Until then he's on the mountain at the other university. Don't ask me how I can get a space there but not at MY university

  6. Dr J, I grew up in York so every 15 minutes is pretty standard! But even when I used to take the 99B line along Broadway, which comes every 2 or 3 minutes during rush hour, I'd have to wait for 3 or 4 buses before getting on (at the Commercial skytrain station - nightmare).

    I think the plan is to start running the 33 on weekends (and more frequently during the day) within a few months.

    Amanda, I was astonished!

    Scientist Mother, that's too bad, it would have made a good story! And I've heard about the terrible daycare situation - I have 2 sets of friends who are completely unable to find anything and might have to leave Canada (both are on work permits that are tied to a specific job, and if they can't go back to work, they lose the permit).

  7. the problem here is that you don't have enough bikes, clearly. (a hybrid is your "speedy" one...oh my!).

    hell, I hardly ever ride anymore and I have a garage full....

  8. It's true... I was explaining this to the guy at the bike shop the last time I took my back-up bike in. He was having major issues with the fact that I just wanted a quick fix for one specific issue and didn't want to fix any of the other major things wrong with it (needs new chain and rear derailier, gear shifters, saddle, and wheel). He said the guys in the workshop would give him a hard time, so we agreed that he could attach a note to it saying essentially "customer realises that this bike is a piece of shit, but just wants to be able to ride it once every couple of weeks or so".

    Anyway, I digress. It's only in the last couple of years that I've had enough space to store even two bikes. Before that the mountain bike lived in our tiny apartment kitchen, next to the skis. And since we bought the house, we've had no money, and I am done with buying crappy cheap bikes. But a garage full of different bikes (and a room full of different kinds of guitar) is a definite long term goal.

  9. HAHA, "the customer realises..." that's priceless.

    I guess that is a good idea on how to move away from those kind of conversations. "Yes, both you and I know that it is not good but I don't need it right now..." :)

    Good on you that can ride to work. Here, I am too scared of the traffic to even try. Not even thinking about the idea of riding when it is dark in the afternoon.

    It's too bad. but life, I guess.

  10. Yeah, I'm very lucky - I get my exercise, my commute, and my thinking time all rolled into one!


I promise to respond to all respectful non-spam comments! Don't be shy! Oh, and please don't type my surname in your comments; I know you all know what it is, but I'd prefer Google to rank other pages before this blog.

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.