I want to ride the bus. I love Myrtle, but I love the environment more. I want to do my part. But I have issues.
Lets move past the typical problems of why a middle class, nearing on middle age, white woman might not ride the bus and talk about the real reasons.
Problem 0: It takes too long. To take the bus to work it would take me half an hour more than driving because of the time it takes to walk to and from the bus stop. Riding my bike takes five minutes more than driving and I get better parking.
Problem 1: How much does it cost?
At the bus stop I did not see any sign saying how much the ride would be or that I needed exact change. When I tried to board the bus, I had a yuppie food stamp ($20 bill). Neither the bus driver, nor the automated machine gives change. Also, are there discounts if I buy a day pass or something? How do I transfer?
When I enter a subway station, I don’t necessarily know how much it will cost, but I know that I can buy my ticket from either a machine or an attendant. Both will tell me how much I must pay and will give me change.
Problem 2: Embarrassment because I didn’t have exact change.
Even though I a)didn’t know the price before boarding and b)didn’t know the bus driver couldn’t give change, and c)didn’t know anyone on the bus—I could feel the disdain towards me from the passengers and driver for wasting their time.
Problem 3: Actual costs exceeds expected cost.
I had to get off the bus and buy something I didn’t need at either a local store or restaurant to make change. There was no way to get change at the bus stop. So I went to a taqueria and had a taco and a sangria. It wasn’t a total fail, but if I had gotten to the party on the first bus, I could have just eaten there.
Problem 4: Where is the bus going?
All I see are signs that say the bus number and sometimes the ending location. I don’t know if this bus goes where I need to go. This could be solved with route maps at the bus stop. A route map of where this bus goes would help, but most subway stations have route maps of the entire system so you can see where you should transfer. This might be difficult at a stop that is just a sign. Which leads me to my next problem…
Problem 5: Where is the bus stop?
I come out of a restaurant and need to get to the train station. Which way should I go? The sun isn’t out so I don’t know which way is north, and I can’t find the bus stop. Most subway stations have an entrance that is obvious. Bus stops could be a small clear shelter covered in graffiti or just a small sign on a post.
Problem 6: Which direction is the bus going?
I’m unfamiliar with this area and have no idea which side of the street I should be on to get where I want to go. If I enter a subway, there are usually signs saying which ramp to take to go in a particular direction.
Problem 7: How do I know when to get off?
I am supposed to pull this rope when I want to get off. I see a sign that says the next stop, but there was no map at the bus stop, so I’m not sure when I need to get off. Lucky for me, I have an iPhone with Google maps and can see where I am thanks to GPS, but not everyone riding the bus does.
Problem 8: How do I know it will stay on the route?
Of course, every bus is not a reenactment of the movie Speed, but this is a psychological problem I have a hard time getting over. Subways and trolleys all have to stay on the tracks or they don’t work. I know where the tracks go. Buses could change their route at any time. There is an unfounded fear of uncertainty. And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.
So why don’t you ride the bus? How can our communities convince you to not drive your car?