Monday, January 13, 2014

It's hard to love you, Metro Detroit public transit system.

We’ve been together since December of 2010. You’d think after our 3rd anniversary, you’d start treating me better, Metro Detroit public transit system!

With the polar vortex, we knew that we’d have to be flexible and give ourselves some extra time for bus/bike commuting - more so than our past few winter experiences. This past Friday, I left myself 20 minutes to bike from my house to the Royal Oak Transit Center - a 1.5 mile ride that usually takes me about 10 minutes. It was pretty important that I made the 7:10am Woodward 460 as I had a meeting downtown at 8:15am. I made an assumption, that while it snowed about a half of an inch the night before, most of the polar vortex snow would be moved out of the way. ALAS. Snow piles everywhere. Sidewalks were still a mess. This workout was giving my quads and abs something serious - who needs a spinning class!?

25 minutes into my commute, I had only made it to 11 & Main Street, and I just knew I had missed the bus. Time to head to Woodward and figure out my next option.

As I was biking up 11 Mile, I saw the lights. Those of you regular bus riders know those lights. The orange-yellow lights at the top of the bus.They are a beacon. You will make your work meeting. The bus is here! You will be warm soon! I knew if I busted it and quickly locked up my bike, this could happen. I was right next to the bus, near the back door, my helmet still on, seeing my bike headlight still on and blinking. WHO CARES. I had made the bus and my bike was locked up! My legs burning through that hellish bike commute, sweat running down my face, but now, NOW. The transit gods smile upon me as a reward for my bike commute! And I smiled back. The bus was running late too and our schedules aligned!

And then that damn bus drove away.

My yells, my screams did nothing. Three other bus riders that were closer to the front of the bus kindly chipped in and yelled on my behalf.

The bus just rolled on.
NO, Joumana.
I don’t have a personal injury.
SMART just broke my HEART.

A guttural curse word expelled itself from my body, and it caused the three other bus riders to stop and stare. Holy crap, I may be the subject of another person’s transit blog. Ah well, it’s about time.

I turn on my heel and just started stomping up 11 Mile towards Woodward. The bike and the sidewalks and I need some time apart. Angrily and sweatily drinking my now-cold tea, I cursed out everyone that hasn’t properly managed their snow removal. If only ONE more person had shoveled, I still would have been late but I would have made that bus.

As I’m getting to the corner of 11 Mile & Woodward - I see the lights again! AH! This cannot happen twice in one day, right? This bus and I are one. I make it to the middle of Woodward - one half way across the street - and the bus is waiting at the light. There’s a huge snowbank there and…...I fall. In the time it takes to pick myself up - I know what’s happened. The light has changed. That bus stops, drops someone off, and is gone.

I surrender to you, transit gods. I am not in charge here.

I take out my phone and call the person I was supposed to meet with, and explain we’ll have to reschedule. I take out my breakfast and take the time to enjoy it. Sweat is still dripping off of me, and my hair is frizzing and freezing out as it dries out from my second shower of the day. 20 minutes later, a limited bus rolls up. It’s 7:50, one hour after I left my house, and I had officially gone about 3 miles. Sounds about right with recent commute times around here.

Metro Detroit public transit system, I thought you and I, after our time together, were better than this. After today, I am reminded just how far we still have left to go!


  1. Great work! I totally relate. Metro Detroit transit is totally a borderline abusive partner. No matter how many smooth mornings my bus and I have, it takes just one like this to make me wonder how much longer I can keep up my codependent reliance.

  2. Aw that sucks! I've totally been there. Some drivers really pay attention and help you out by waiting a minute. Others, not so much.

    We'll keep working on it!