Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A not-quite-impossible bus commute (March 19, 2008)

Current mood: accomplished

This is a story of how a supposedly impossible commute became at least do-able, even if it was not very fast. If I had to do it again, I would at least know how.

I had a two-day temp job at an office building in Warrendale PA (roughly here; I walked to this specific spot from the worksite, as mentioned below), about 10 miles from my house. I drove there Monday and drove home, but because my wife works nights, I had to find alternative transportation for Tuesday. Getting there, I arranged to meet a co-worker to carpool, but I was on my own getting home.

As the work day ended, nobody was heading my way, so I sat in the lobby, stuck. Outside it was raining, and the idea of walking 10 miles in a 45 degree drizzle loomed. What to do!

I knew there was an outbound transit trip that went past the place, but was not aware of any inbound afternoon service. I hoped that I might be able to beg my way onto an outbound trip in hopes the driver would be making a "deadhead" (empty) trip back Downtown for another outbound run. Once Downtown, I could catch my regular route that passes a quarter mile from my home.

Turns out it was easier than that! I discovered, much to my pleasant surprise, that there was an inbound trip. In fact, there were a couple of them, and if I had known about it beforehand, could actually have caught an earlier trip while I sulked in the lobby, with a very short wait.

As it was, though, after waiting 30 minutes for that next bus, I was Downtown in 25 more minutes, 10 minutes later was headed back outbound, and 30 minutes after that was home and dry. All told, it took a bit under two hours from deciding to give up begging a ride, to sitting in my own house.

Morals of the story:
  1. If you do not know that transit service exists, it cannot help you.
  2. If you know it exists but do not where or when to catch it, it cannot help you.
  3. Having options means you are not stranded.
  4. The system might not get you there quickly, but it does work.

Even better, the bus Downtown was one of the big, 10-wheel, over-the-road buses, identical in many respect to the rigs that Greyhound uses. Wow, they are nice to ride.

The real problem was the "V"-shaped commute. Driving that 10 miles takes almost 30 tedious suburban traffic minutes, but far less than the 100-plus-minute bus trip. For those who live the other side of town, though, using this option might make a good bit of sense.


bus15237 said...

For those who know the old Port Authority routes, this was the now deceased 13K Cranberry, and that StreetView image is of the Warrendale Park & Ride lot. The 13K got deleted in the March 2011 service cuts. An attempt by a private company to run identical service has, at this writing, not proven profitable.

bus15237 said...

For that matter, the Perry Highway (then an 11C or 13C, later a 9) was also cut in March 2011, so this trip simply is no longer possible in any way, shape or form.