Adventures on the 66 Express

Taking a Stand Against High Gasoline Prices

I officially rebel! I have not taken the city bus in 30+ years, since I was an awkward teenager in high school. Gasoline prices have recently hit $3.59 per gallon. The last time I filled up cost nearly $50 for one week’s worth of this liquid gold, and I drive a small SUV. I feel bad for people with larger vehicles.

To me, $200 per month to drive my vehicle to and from work is entirely unacceptable. High gas prices are a reason that this country spiraled into the recent recession that we are still struggling to overcome. People cannot afford a substantial depletion of their disposable income. I know I certainly can not. Even if I could, I just refuse to pay that much for gasoline. I hereby take a stand, and I hope that I can encourage others to do the same.

I was nervous at first. I was afraid the bus would be crowded, people would annoy me, it would smell, or feel dirty. My friend Tara said, “Bring mace and sanitary wipes.” Most of the people on the Express 66 are older, and are regulars. There were several younger than I, or right around my age. I would love to see more young people riding the bus.

I was afraid riding the bus would feel inconvenient, or that I would feel helpless without my car. Three offers for a ride home if I missed the bus, or if something happened, helped alleviate the fear of abandonment in downtown Louisville 25 miles from home.

In preparation, last Friday I went to University of Louisville to get my ID card, which I had never taken the time to do. I am a student there, and students ride Transit Authority of River City (TARC) for free. This was the one thing that convinced me that I had to try. How can I pass up a free 23 mile ride to work?

My first morning on the bus eased any fears I felt. It was empowering. The people all seem nice and decent, it did not smell, and I could just chill out while someone else drives me to work, for free.

So far, the only person that has annoyed me is this lady who never stops talking. She rides every day, knows all the regulars, and talks much about nothing. Bless her soul, and bless those whom she traps within a conversation, because she will not allow them escape.

As far as  inconvenience, it is actually less of a hassle to walk to and from the bus stop than to walk to and from the parking garage on the fifth floor where I have to circle around twice per day until I am dizzy.

I have just completed the first full week of my new bus riding adventure, and I question myself as to why I had not started this earlier. I am very pleased, and the tank of gas that I purchased last weekend still reads “full.”

The downside of taking the bus is I have to leave home and arrive back about ten minutes earlier and later. But, that is no big deal. I arrive to work 30 minutes early and have to wait 30 minutes for pickup after work. My car is exposed to the environment and is parked all day in a parking lot unsecured. Also, the bus is usually crowded and many people try to take up two seats so they do not have to sit with anyone. I’d rather them be more considerate than have to ask them to move their stuff so I can have a seat. It seems like the buses are smaller than they were when I was a teenager. Is it me or the bus? Don’t answer that. The seats are so small, the average sized person takes up one and a quarter seat, and we all know that most of us are not average. Men take up more room because the have broader shoulders and they spread their legs.

The pros definitely compensate for the cons with the extra cash, one less car on the road, and that good feeling that comes along with doing something that helps society in some small way. As an unexpected bonus, I have noticed that I am less fatigued from driving so much and dealing with traffic after arriving to work and home. I can also make constructive use of the extra wait time by reading, studying, or just relaxing. I will be taking the bus every day indefinitely, even when or if the gas price goes back down.

I wholeheartedly encourage anyone who drives to work every day to try car-pooling, walking, biking, or public transportation. The only way the price will go back down is to decrease demand. I don’t care what they say about what is going on overseas, if we are not buying as much gas, they will lower the price. One person does not make an impact. If we all took a stand in some small way, it would make a difference. Moreover, it is good for the environment.

For the future, when I get to the point of moving on from Louisville, and hopefully that will be soon, I will live close to work, or else work from home, so that I am not so dependent on gasoline and driving. That would be Phase II of my rebellion. Where ever I happen to live next, it would be awesome to live close enough to walk or even bike to work.

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