I have a vague recollection of getting on a city bus with my mother as a very young child - maybe 3 or 4 years old. I don't know why we would have had to take a bus anywhere; my mother always had a car. But whether or not this recollection is valid, is, essentially, moot. Even if I did take a bus with my mother as a pre-schooler once very long ago, my knowledge of and experience with public transit remains practically nil.
But living in a city and not driving kind of demands that one become familiar with this complex system of transportation. And my orientation began yesterday!
We are conveniently located close to a convenience store that sells bus tickets. Who knew? My intrepid and oh, so patient, busing mentor, Bizz, of course. For $24 I was able to purchase a ten-pack of bus tickets there and at 9:30 a.m. that is what I did. At 9:39 a.m., I boarded a city bus for what may have been the first time in my life.
And we were off!
Our first destination was a little new age store where I hoped to arrange to do Tarot readings a couple of days a week. (But that is another story and one I won't get into here.) Upon boarding, I deposited my ticket into the ticket thingie and received a transfer from the driver. We had the bus to ourselves, so we sat in the senior seats up front - with the understanding that we would vacate them should a senior (handicapped person or stroller pusher) board. So far, so good.
The first leg of our journey ended at a transfer station where we alighted and then waited for our next bus. Buses were coming and going and people were boarding and alighting like pros. I just followed Bizz and observed.
Two things are important when riding a bus. First, one must pay attention to the stops along the way. Second, one must know where one needs to get off the bus. And, yes, there is an app for that!
The Edmonton Public Transit system has its own app. It's complicated and caters, I believe, to the seasoned bus commuter more than, say... Well, a newbie like me. A far easier way to enjoy the ride is to use Google Maps. Just plug in your destination and tap the icon for public transit and everything is neatly laid out for you. It even gives you walking times between bus stops if you have to move to a different one. (Now if I could only get directionally oriented, I'd be able to follow the maps!)
Our second destination was to Johnson's Sewing Centre, where Bizz works. We went there to show off the mystery quilt that she had completed at seven that morning. After staying up all night to get this quilt done, a tired, albeit caffeine infused, quilter on a mission was my teacher and guide. Once show and tell ended, we packed up the quilt and headed south to Millwoods Town Centre, our local shopping mall, to mail off said quilt and complete the final leg of our journey.
Which we did on foot. It takes about the same amount of time to walk from Millwoods Town Centre as it does to bus, so we saved a ticket and hoofed her home, where is was my time to be the guide. I showed Bizz an alternate route through Sister Mary (something) Casey Park next to the Grey Nuns Hospital, a more scenic course. Along the way we stopped at a little lake - or a large pond - to watch the geese.
My first (or possibly second) experience using public transit was altogether positive. Even if the reason for it didn't quite pan out the way I had hoped. Public transit etiquette is, as it should be, fairly straight forward. Know where you're going. Give up your seat to the elderly, pregnant, handicapped or otherwise encumbered people. Do not press the stop request button unless you mean to actually get off the bus. If you are at a stop where several buses stop and a bus other than the one you are waiting for comes by, signal the driver that you don't need him/her to stop. This applies to situations where you are the only person there. Say thank you to the driver! (Just 'cause.)
I think I will enjoy the new-found freedom public transit has to offer. Even if it is freedom on a schedule!
Which, by the way, is highly dependable! I have to admit I was impressed at the efficiency of it all.
Ooh! And the bendy buses are really cool, too!