As a 9-year old kid, I first rode the bus, actually a trolley, to the YMCA many Saturdays for swimming lessons. When I was in junior high, I rode the same trolley, in the other direction, to my junior high school. The fare, if purchased in advance, was 10 cents.
Since that time, I’ve rarely ridden the bus – my car is so much more convenient. But considering the impacts of my car’s CO2 emissions as compared to the efficiency of bus transportation, a bus carrying a lot of people is tremendously more friendly to the planet than all of us individually driving our cars. In fairness to the debate, some argue that a bus with only a few people is generates more CO2 than everyone taking their own car. Fair argument. Others argue that the number of people needed is relatively small and that overall, public transportation is good for the environment. I wrote about this a bit in I Get Around earlier this year and at that time, I intended to increase my use of public transportation, particularly the bus.
Well, I’ve dipped my toe into the water, that is, used the bus for trips that I would have otherwise used my car. My son helped me get over the hump of learning about the bus and it’s much easier than I expected. (Thank you!) He helped me load the app to purchase tickets (one way or all day) as well as the app to monitor where individual buses are at any time and when they will arrive at any particular stop.
My first excursion was an appointment visit to my doctor. Using Google Maps, I input my doctor’s name (which was in my contacts) and asked for directions – selecting the “bus” icon as my choice. Immediately it told me which bus to take, where to catch the bus, and when the next ones would arrive. It was a 10-minute walk from our place to the bus stop. The bus was delayed 14 minutes, but that information was displayed and updated repeatedly via Google Maps. When the bus arrived, I hopped on, showed the driver my electronic ticket and rode 17 minutes to my doctor’s office – one block from the bus stop. The ride home was just as easy and because the electronic bus ticket allows transfers up to 3 hours from the first ride, I was able to use the same $1.25 ticket to ride home. It didn’t hurt that the weather was absolutely perfect – mid-70s and beautiful blue skies.
It is 3.6 miles from our home to my doctor’s office so round trip, I saved 7.2 miles of driving my car. My car gets ~ 25 MPG so I saved about one-third gallon of gasoline and since gasoline currently cost about $2.25 per gallon, I saved about 75 cents worth of gas. Not enough to offset my $1.25 bus ticket, but when I include the cost of parking at the Houston Medical Center, typically $7.00, I saved more. But more importantly, I saved one-third of a gallon of gasoline from being burned and increasing the global temperature, albeit a very, very small amount. And I got a little bit of walking in as a bonus. And since that first excursion, I’ve taken the bus on a couple of other occasions.
The point here is that these very very small amounts of gasoline saved, whether using the bus in lieu of a car, or using an electric car, or keeping your car tuned up so it is more efficient… all these things add up. And every additional gallon of gas we can eliminate, will make a difference in how our planet’s temperature changes over time. If a million people or ten million people, or 100 million people went through this same exercise and just used the bus for one trip today, then the results would start to be noticeable, maybe even eliminate lines at the gas station.
To the degree I can do this, and by sharing this experience may encourage others to consider doing the same, then we can make a difference that our grandchildren will appreciate. Let’s hope so.
Oh, one more thing. When you’re out and relying on your smart phone for your ticket home, be sure to have charged your phone the night before…. just saying, you don’t want to be running on empty.