So, no surprise, I’m a transit junkie. I was raised by transit employees – today, April 20th, is my mothers 30th anniversary. Given that I am 31 and a half years old, it would seem that I was about 19 months old when Mom was hired on as a driver. So, despite the motto that “Friends don’t let friends take transit”, this whole transit thing has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. I remember Mom leaving for work just as I was going to bed, working night shifts, then coming home in the morning to see me off to school. I remember spending a couple of days when I wasn’t in school riding the bus around with her, and a nice older gentleman asking me if I was lost (since I was parked in the front seat with a pile of books & toys.) Mom let him know that I was with her. Heh.
Because my mother worked odd hours, I stayed with my grandmother a lot. Since she quit driving the year I was born, transit was her main mode of transportation as well. We’d catch the bus in downtown Cloverdale, near where Nana lived before she moved in with us, and take it all the way out to Guildford Mall. I remember learning a fair amount of transit etiquette from her, like the fact that if the bus was full, I wasn’t allowed my own seat and had to sit on her lap. I remember being quite bitter about that, damnit. I wanted a seat! She also would refuse to use the courtesy seats, even when she was well into her late 70s, because “those were for people who really needed them.” To this day, I’m uncomfortable sitting in the courtesy seats, even if there’s nobody else who needs them.
When I was 10, we moved halfway through the schoolyear, but just a couple of km away from our old house. Instead of switching schools, I was put on the 320 heading to my old school in Cloverdale, which conveniently picked up half a block from my house and dropped me off right in front of my school. I was a rather nerdy child, but I got a little bit of street cred for being the kid who took public transit to school.
(Picture is unrelated.)
Like most other Cloverdale kids, I went for my drivers license when I hit 16 (although lost interest over an ugly winter, and didn’t actually get my license until I was 17. My interest was renewed when my grandmother bought me a car so I could chauffeur her around.) Transit service in Cloverdale was worse then than it is now, and we didn’t live particularly close to any route. A car was necessary. (Heck, it still is. Although with the opening of the new pedestrian bridge over the ravine by my parents house, the 502 is at a lot more accessible.) So, I had cars throughout my late teens & early 20s, including when I lived in Victoria, although commuted by transit most of the time (or at least halfway, driving to park & rides.) But… I moved to Yaletown when I was 22, and realized I didn’t need a car. (Although I did have a motorcycle, but that was for fun.) So I got rid of my truck, and was pretty happy living car-free by choice. And did so until I was 28, when I moved back in with my parents for a few months and discovered again the horrors of living in Cloverdale without a car. (That pedestrian bridge just opened up a few months ago, so getting to transit required at least a 15-20 minute walk… when I already had an hour and a half commute once I got to a bus. Bah. Do-able, but not if I could avoid it.)
Nick & I always had a car. I still had my crappy little Cavalier when I moved in with him, and it became extremely convenient for SCA activities – when you are lugging 60+lbs of armor, having a vehicle is super convenient. We eventually upgraded to a minivan, which made SCA traveling infinitely more convenient. Still, I hated using a vehicle when I didn’t have to. It rarely occurred to me to drive to work even if it would have been convenient for after-work activities, and Nick & I would usually disagree over how we wanted to get downtown for Adventure – he wanted to drive (and pay through the nose for parking) I always preferred just hopping on the bus and not worrying about parking and the whole omg wtf I have a VEHICLE nonsense. And we’d invariably end up standing in the cold for half an hour, but still. Nick & I had different ideas of “convenience”.
Having left the van to Nick (well, because he bought it) I was quite pleased to go car free again. I like taking transit. Case in point: On Monday, I had a day of Adventure. I had one time sensitive errand to run – I had to pick up my replacement Kindle from the UPS by the airport, and the only bus (the C90 Sea Island North!) that gets me to the UPS parking lot runs twice a day, an hour apart. Missing it meant about a 3km walk from Templeton Station on the Canada Line. Which I did on the way back, since my 10 minute stop in at UPS meant that waiting I’d be waiting 50 minutes for the bus to take me back. Naaaah. I walked and I took some nice pictures on the way back.
I started off by having brunch with Dan, and then hopping on the #7 into Vancouver. Dropped Dan off at work, then had some time to kill before I had to hop on the Canada Line to get to Bridgeport Station for that C90. So since Dan works near Waterfront Station, I decided to hop on the Seabus and zip over to Lonsdale Quay, take some pictures and kick around for half an hour, then head back and whip out to Richmond.
Honestly, sometimes Transit impresses the hell out of me. My day was East Vancouver -> Downtown -> North Vancouver -> Downtown -> Richmond -> Downtown -> East Van. And if I’d been paying more attention to the time and not dicking around on the drive, I’d have then gone out to Surrey by Skytrain to go to fight practice, but I wasn’t paying attention and ended up grabbing a co-op car. Oops. (But that wasn’t a transit fail, that was my own “Err… what do you mean I have to be somewhere in half an hour, and I’m still half an hour away from home?”)
And the cool thing? Assuming I didn’t already have a free three zone pass through work, I could have done that entire days travel for $9 for a daypass. Seriously, how awesome is that? NINE DOLLARS. It would have cost me more than that in gas to do that trip, nevermind all of the parking fees, etc. Sure it’d be faster, but I’d be stuck in a car and not taking Awesome Pictures. (Although I’d miss that 3km walk from the UPS back to Templeton Station, too. But hey, I got to see a new skytrain station. And take more pictures.)
I dunno. I love transit. I think it’s effing cool that I can do all of this travel without really thinking about it. I wish I could explain why I like it so much more than driving. It just feels so much easier than driving. I’d rather read, play games on my iPhone, or look out the window any day of the week than drive and stare at Other Drivers. It really hit home later that night when I had to grab the co-op car and head out to Surrey, while I was skipping through radio stations desperately wishing I was on a bus where I could just read my book.
Anyway. I find buses lend themselves a lot more to Adventure, and I love Adventure. I like the car co-op because I admit, sometimes it’s supremely inconvenient not to have a car. I have a dog who is too big (and neurotic) for transit. Sometimes, I buy large things that I don’t want to take on the bus. Sometimes I travel to places that are not serviced by transit.
But most of the time? Bus, please. It’s inconvenient, the weather is hell, and I’ve spent more times cursing buses for not showing up than I can think of, but … I still don’t have any interest in owning a car for as long as I live in Vancouver.
Things that are awesome? Dan’s a transit junkie, too. This pleases me.