I have had a lot of exciting things happening lately and when I get my pictures back I will let you in on all of the fun. But for now I will share another day of trials and tribulations of my car-less life. The past week the skies have threatened rain at least once a day everyday- which for me is like russian roulette. Without fail, if I ride my bike on a cloudy day, I will get wet and if I ride the bus then the sun will come out. I honestly don't mind getting wet when its warm out but when the temperature drops below 65 (yes, I am southerner), then I become very cold and bitter. Needless to say, I decided to take the bus on Thursday because there was a 60% chance of thunderstorms. Since I decided this last minute, I had to run around like a banchee trying to get ready and had to forgo breakfast... but I made it to class just in time. After class I had an interview with some undergraduates doing a project on social entrepreneurs and then I was free to go.
After a short interview, I decided to catch the 3:30 bus so I could head home and eat. I hustled to my stop and got there with 15 minutes to spare. While 15 minutes may sound like a long time, the buses don't exactly run on-time, so you want to make sure that you don't miss it. There is nothing worse than sitting at the stop wondering if the bus hasn't come yet because you are too early or too late. If you are too late, then it will be a solid 45 minutes until the next shot at getting a ride. So, as you can see, it is worth it to show up a little early to dispel any doubts.
The nice thing about riding the bus on a regular basis is that you know how to judge the arrival of your bus based on other routes passing by. So as the 20 came and went, I knew that my ride was just around the corner. In the beginning I had pleasant conversation with fellow bus riders to keep me entertained, including a discussion on how silly it is for tourist to pay $5 for a 99 cent hot dog. But when the second 20 went by, I started to get worried. I check the time and realized that I had been sitting there for 45 minutes. I started getting a little suspicious and decided to call CARTA. After getting past the automated system and through to an actual human, I was put on hold for 5 minutes. When she came back on she informed me that my bus had broken down, so I asked: "Do you have any idea how long it will be... an hour? a day?" to which she replied with attitude: "No. I'm not a mechanic." I then I started to asked her: "Well could you at least tell the 20 to stop and let people know there bus isn't coming?" but she hung up before I could finish. So after waiting for an hour and desperately hungry- I realized that I had no way of getting home.
Lucky for me, I have enough friends that have flexible schedules, that one of them could come get me. But what about all of the people trying to get to work, home, and school? The clouds were threatening rain as parents struggled to keep their kids entertained and those heading to their second job were trying to flag down cabs. Why is there no system in place for situations like this? No back-up bus? Why weren't the bus drivers stopping to let people know? How is CARTA expecting people to use their bus system if it is unreliable with horrible customer service?
Needless to say, I wrote them a letter with my thoughts as well as suggestions hoping that maybe the next time this happens, they can handle it a little better.
In the end, I am glad that I got stranded because on the way home, my friend and I rescued a stray puppy that was running across a busy road that may have otherwise not have made it. But from now on I think I will bring my bike with me just in case.