Wednesday, December 14, 2011

One hour, 37 minutes.

It's hard to even know where to start this blog because of the pure number of bus/bike experiences that happened today. Melissa and I had a breakfast meeting with someone that wanted to hear more about our blog, so we decided to bus/bike there. It was chilly and rainy today, but nothing stops Two Women and our Four Wheels!

I also wanted to use this morning as a chance to test out the new SMART bus schedule. I was early enough to hit the 460 at the Royal Oak Transit Center all the way downtown. The bus was full but only about 2 minutes late. And not to worry - I totally got hit on at the bus stop before even dismounting my bike. A fellow bus rider asked if I had a boyfriend, told me he bet we'd make some beautiful babies, checked in on my holiday shopping status, and bid me adieu. A-mah-zing.

After our meeting, I set out in the new Detroit bus-normal. Here's a timeline:

10:38am - arrive at bus stop right on time - the DDOT Woodward 53 is supposed to arrive at 10:40am

11:00am - bus arrives after standing in the rain and missing being splashed at the bus stop by car drivers/puddles (thanks to my fellow SIX bus stop pals yelling 'watch out, baby!')
The 53 has an empty bike rack (YAY) but is packed with people. See Twitter for photo evidence (@2women4wheels). I end up getting one of the last seats- after paying my $1.75 - in a total standing-room-only bus. The man in front of me is wearing homemade actual paper clip pierced earrings. The ultimate in green/re-used/DIY fashion!

Oh, and someone says 'you take care of that gorgeous figure' to me, kind of loudly in front of the entire bus. Don't you worry...!?

11:38am - arrive at the State Fairgrounds.

11:42am - pick up the SMART 450 - after I see the bus driver flag down a Woodward 53 to transfer people. I give the bus drivers a lot of credit for trying to navigate these changes - and helping people along the way. I have to pay another $.50 for this transfer - which increases my bus commuting costs $.25 per ride between both systems. Our SMART 450 driver ends up waiting about 5 minutes for others to board from another Woodward 53.

11:50am - someone offers an uneaten ham sandwich to the entire bus. YES.

12noon - get off the bus at 11 & Woodward.

12:15pm - arrive at home. Harried. Really frustrated with this "new" system. Yet, grateful that I'm home safe, and grateful that I don't have to rely on this system on a regular basis. Because you know what? The majority of the people on this bus do. This adds about 45 minutes to my bus/bike commute. That's kind of insane, right? Without traffic, this commute is about 25 minutes via car.

How is this acceptable for a major metropolitan region? It's not.
We need to change this "new" system - and be vocal about our experiences.

We've said it before, but we'll say it again:
Send us your pictures!
Send us your stories!

Feel free to send photos to:
2women4wheels@gmail.com
tag us on Twitter at:
@2women4wheels
or post to Facebook tagging:
2 Women 4 Wheels

We would love to have the opportunity to be the voice for the bus/bike commuting community - to help highlight the need for increased bus service. So help us out. :)

4 comments:

  1. Excited to read the stories from you two ladies as you experience Detroit through our transit system. Was the bus 2 minutes late, or 20, kind of confused on that.

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  2. The SMART bus was only 2 minutes late in the morning, but the DDOT bus when I was coming home was about 20 minutes late. It's rough because everyone is just trying to navigate this new system of SMART having really limited service into the city. Thanks for becoming a fan, Kyle!

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  3. I drive a bus here in Detroit and ride too. I have had two bikes in the rack and I'm the last bus out at night so I know the frustration you feel!

    I've been telling my passengers to get a "fold-up" bike. Forget about the rack! Just fold it up and put the bike in a light weight canvas bag and it is just a piece of luggage. Don't even tell the driver there is a bike in the bag. It will easily fit under the seat or between your feet if standing. The bikes (up to $800!!!) are pretty slick too. Be safe!

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  4. I was curious to see how someone that peruses a bicycle for transportation (not sure to what extent) uses the bicycle on its own but also how in conjunction with a bus.

    Not knowing the routes of either system real well, it makes it difficult in this account here to figure out where you were going to and from and the distance, but perhaps you don't want to include too many details for whatever reason. That's your choice to share as much or as little as you want, so no problem there, but I thought I'd just share that since you are giving some information and it seems to be a primary focus of your blog.

    I only ask becaus I was going encourage you to consider riding a bicycle for transportation more, in terms of distance, depending on the distance you are going. I've found it rather surprising how short of a distance some people, some even with bicycles, no less, would ride a bus for, in my experience riding a bus. Those are people with passes I presume.

    I rode a bus here in Detroit (SMART, from downriver to Detroit and vice versa) for the first time in 2010 and have done so since then from time to time, but that would have likely never happened if I didn't have a bicycle and corresponding bicycle racks to put it on, to get me to and from the bus stop more efficiently and quickly, as the stop is about 3 miles from my residence.

    Slantrider: Are you implying that being the last bus on a route already close to the beginning of a route, and already having two bikes on your rack, that someone relying on an open rack spot would be out of luck?

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