September 4, 2010

Carless in Suburbia: Reflections

With 3 exceptions* I have not used a car since I moved to Danville on August 12th, 3 weeks ago.

CCCTA service: the morning bus to BART arrives within 2-3 minutes of its stated arrival time, and gets to Walnut Creek around 8 minutes after its scheduled terminus--but for a late morning/late rush hour service, that's pretty good. The MBTA buses in Boston rarely followed the schedule, and only a few buslines had headways small enough to make simply showing up at the bus stop a viable option. You still had to check the schedule.

However, on 4 separate occasions I have had to chase down buses. That's about 25% of the bus trips I've taken. Only one of these was the driver's fault; I detailed this here. While that driver just never stopped, the other 3 occasions came from cutting my BART commute home a bit too close. As in, my BART train arrives at 6:10. Delays of 2-3 minutes, coupled with the afternoon rush hour mass exodus, and sometimes with that pesky addfare, usually mean I arrive in time to see the 6:15 bus pulling out of the bus bay.

Two days ago I ran behind the bus, arms flailing. A week and two days ago I had my bike, and even though there was no bus in sight, I pedaled like the dickens and caught it at its 3rd stop. Two weekends ago I biked alongside the bus and hopped on at its first stop.

My first takeaway: it helps to be young and fleet of foot. Second: there are significant convenience trade-offs. I enjoy adding an extra half hour to my commute to snooze or read, but that's how much longer the bus takes. Convenience trade-off corollary: missing the bus = 30 minute wait. Hence all that durned bus chasing.

*Driving my sister to Oregon for her senior year of college, family trip to visit grandmother in Mountain View, and picking up two large deep dish pizzas. Bike rack will need some mods before I'll trust it to safely handle the divinity of Zachary's Pizza.

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