I have fretted here a number of times about having to take Edward into a big city for his various Crohn’s-related medical treatments and tests. I am scared of driving in cities, and I’m not accustomed to dealing with one-way streets or parking garages or people treating two lanes as three lanes, and people honk at me and I can’t tell what the honks mean because they all just sound like honks and I don’t speak honk, and anyway each time I have to drive into the city I make sure ahead of time that my affairs are in order.

Paul discovered there is a comfy bus (the kind with overhead compartments and a bathroom) that leaves from a small, easy little station 20 minutes from our house, and drives to a stop that is only half a mile’s walk from the children’s hospital. Edward and I tried it, and it has CHANGED THE QUALITY OF MY LIFE. I sit there, and someone else drives alllllll the scary parts. Furthermore, there is Wifi on the bus, so I can play on my phone instead of having to concentrate on the road and whatever I can find on the radio. Periodically I look up from my phone and shudder, the way you do when it’s storming outside but you’re safely tucked inside: here’s that difficult exit, here’s that difficult merge, here’s the bridge that means things are about to get a whole lot more complicated. Then, on the half-mile walk from the bus station to the hospital, there were about a dozen Pokéstops.

Our round-trip tickets cost just over $20 total, and parking in the commuter lot was free. When we drive, we pay $7 for the parking garage, plus $11 for the subway, plus of course there’s gas. The total travel time is almost the same; the bus will be a shorter trip on the days when our return trip happens to line up nicely with the next scheduled departure, and a longer trip on the days when it doesn’t.

As you know, I am not fond of Figuring Out New Things, so there was a hurdle to get over: figuring out how to buy the tickets, figuring out which bus we needed, figuring out what time the bus leaves and how much earlier we should get there. But I am much more willing to try something new if there is a possibility of huge future pay-off, as there was here. I am also much more willing to try something new if someone else discovers it (Paul), and tells me about it (Paul), and sends me a link to the website (Paul), and reminds me of it in a gentle, low-pressure, I-mean-just-in-case-you-WANTED-to-try-it kind of way (Paul), and doesn’t argue when I say I am absolutely not going to do it because it is impossible to figure out (Paul), and then praises me afterward and calls me a brave traveling warrior princess (Paul).

Furthermore, I now know how to use this bus to get to the airport, which is on the same route. AND I know how to use it to get to OTHER buses, like the ones that go to other states! It is possible that I will be able to figure out how Rob can take a bus home from college, so that we can pick him up 20 minutes away instead of 7 hours away.

34 thoughts on “Bus

  1. Elsk

    I looooove buses! It’s almost a chore when I have to drive our car somewhere. Oy, to figure out parking, and get gas, and then to figure out parking when we get back (we live in a city and use street parking). Kudos to you and Paul.

  2. Alice

    Heee you don’t speak honk. As a city-dweller I *do* speak honk, so I get ENRAGED with other drivers when they honk for a reason that is NOT A HONKABLE OFFENSE, MA’AM, NOW GET OFF MY LAWN.

    Also, kudos to Paul for the phrase “brave traveling warrior princess” :)

  3. Alice

    I think for the short trips you’re talking about, which seem to involve no transfers, the bus is great.

    I think for Rob’s coming home for breaks/holidays, you shouldn’t push the bus. Mainly because a bus trip from someplace that’s 7 hours away by car is likely to be a lot, lot longer in a bus. You all might be better off seeing if college students still do ride share posts to find people who want to ride together in the same direction in exchange for gas money. I knew people who did that when I was in undergrad.

    Also: Rob coming back to you for breaks may be a shorter-lived thing, so you may want to think about making it easy for him to come if you actually want to keep seeing him. If you only have to suck up the drive for 4 drives, would it change your feelings about it? I’m asking because I never went home for fall/spring breaks (too far, too expensive), and quit coming home for summers after my second year. The only time my family saw me after that was at Christmas. I wasn’t the only one. Between jobs, boyfriends/girlfriends, and (for those with more money than I and my friends had) taking trips with friends– classes being out didn’t necessarily mean that everyone was going to their parents’ houses. Rob may be returning less and less as the next few years go forwards.

  4. Therese

    I’m jealous that you live somewhere where these mass transit options are available. It does make like so much easier (once you figure out the system and schedules that is).

    Just an FYI for Rob traveling back and forth to college. I work at a large public state university. Every break our Parking/Transportation Office runs a bus service to major cities from which we have a high enrollment of students. For us, that is places like St. Louis, Chicago, Atlanta, etc… Students can sign up ahead of time for this bus service and pay (a pretty reasonable) fee for the transportation home. Maybe Rob’s school offers something like this? We even have students use it that don’t live in those cities but they are significantly closer to home and so they take the university shuttle that far and then family has a much smaller trip to pick them up.

  5. Angela

    I am so happy that the bus ended up being such a good situation. Good job, Paul. That might make up for the Great Basement Unbaging incident.

  6. Rachel

    My favorite thing about this blog post is how it portrays Paul as a good partner to you, even though we know he’s also the guy who unbags things in storage.

    1. Holly

      Yes! I can just imagine him behind the scenes worrying about Swistle and Edward and working to find a solution. So sweet!

  7. liz

    YAY BUSES!!! I love taking the bus. LOVE LOVE LOVE it. And yay for you and for Paul getting to a place where you could ride that bus.

    And yay for pokestops.

    I recommend that you OFFER the bus option to your son, but that you drive without complaint if he wants you to pick him up and drop him off in the car instead. also, that’s another several hours you get to spend with him.

  8. Tracy

    This bus sounds wonderful! I love having someone else drive me…

    I see that someone else talked about buses that are for students. The ones our college had for the large metropolis 4 hours north of us were charter buses for students only and they were lovely. (I visited my beloved aunt regularly this way – got on a bus, got dropped off at a mall near her and she picked me up!)

    I don’t know what regular greyhound is like now, but I used to take it as well, but my ride was only 2 hours. My parents liked being able to just pick me up downtown instead of having to make a 4 hour round trip to pick me up and 4 hours to take me back.

  9. Shawna

    In the days before smart phones and apps and such, there were index cards thumb-tacked to the ride share board in the campus centre and that is how I travelled to and from home (~6 hours away). I’m sure this has been replaced by technology now, but am equally sure that this sharing of cars for gas money still happens among college students.

    My sister, by the way, now in her mid-40s, still takes the bus from Toronto to Ottawa (~4.5 hours) when she comes home to visit, AND STILL HAS OUR MOTHER PAY FOR HER TICKET! I am a big advocate of public transportation – even though I have a car I still bus to and from work – but not so much my sibling’s expectation of being reimbursed for her travel for all of these years.

    1. Sarah!

      Yes, there are definitely facebook groups that facilitate ride sharing at every break and often at random other times as well (“I’m going someplace for the weekend, who wants to pay for gas?!?”)

  10. Ruby

    I feel similarly about driving in a big city. I live just outside of one, and I have been known to NOT GO to get-togethers with friends if they take place in a place in a part of the city that’s particularly scary to drive in. Lyft has been a game-changer for me. (Well, and Uber, but based on what’s been in the news lately I prefer not to give them my money.)

  11. Kay W.

    Oh, I highly recommend long bus rides for college students. Encourage Rob to figure it out and try it! I actually started a bit earlier, in high school, making the occasional multi-hour trip on Greyhound or Amtrak, and I think it gave me a whole set of life navigation skills that have served me very well in the many years since. I learned how to deal with delays; how to spot/avoid/handle difficult strangers; how to get from one place to another when things seem confusing; how to negotiate problems with transit staff. Sometimes it was stressful, but overall it was a good experience. Later I got to do some traveling in Europe and those bus and train trips really helped me have a good experience. Getting to do all of that (in English!) first was good practice.

    1. Kay W.

      Plus, it’s statistically much safer than a 14-hour round trip car ride, especially if he drives himself or hitches a ride with college friends.

    2. Bkb

      I was going to make this comment. I very much wish I had learned how to take public transportation at a young age, before, as a college student, I ended up in Senegal on a bus with a missing ticket, with a double language barrier (ie I spoke very broken French, the bus driver spoke very broken French, and that was our only means of communication). I intend to make my children learn how to take different kinds of transportation when they’re a little older–the oldest is five right now, so maybe we’ll start in seven or eight years. There aren’t really any options in our small town, but I think this will be worth a few trips to a bigger city.

  12. Matti

    I am so relieved on your behalf! A nice cozy bus ride with Wifi and a bathroom? YES PLEASE.

    Also, well done Paul. And you ARE a brave traveling warrior princess!

  13. Kalendi

    Yay for the bus and yay for Paul helping you gently to try it. I have traveled by bus and/or ferry for commuting for 30 years and love it! I visit with friends, read, knit, play on my phone or kindle and just generally find it so much nicer than driving myself. I don’t even mind longer rides as well (I almost always take a bus to the 3.5 hour away airport). I think Rob will be able to find alternate ways to come home for a visit, but I would agree that driving him sometimes might encourage him to visit.

  14. Jenny

    Public transportation, especially buses, is one of my irrational fears. I do OK on subways (I think because the routes are in a straight line and the stops are almost always clearly marked). But buses kind of freak me out because you have to know the stop you need to get off at and you might need to pull that wire to alert the driver that you want the next stop.

    SO I am super impressed with you and even with my bus issues, I think it would be so nice not to have to worry about driving to Edward’s appointments and dealing with city traffic.

  15. Alexicographer

    Yay! This past year, the bus-I-can-ride-to-work (also has wifi) got new stops nearer my home AND I figured out a place I can park (at least for now) near the stops that is free, which cuts my bus commute time down relative to other alternatives, and now I pretty much prefer the bus (plus a short drive before the bus) to all other commute options. Which is great, because it turns out that this (actually preferring the bus) motivates me to ride the bus (and thereby consume less gas, i.e., cause less damage to our environment) WAY more than does just thinking I *should* ride the bus to cause less damage to our environment.

    Here’s to buses.

  16. kate

    SOLIDARITY. (And thanks, I sent this post to my mum, who knows I have anxiety but doesn’t really get what it’s like.)

  17. juliloquy

    Congratulations, that is a wonderful solution!

    I also loved seeing the many ticks in the yay-Paul column. :)

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