This morning, with scribbled-down timetable information and 10 bits ($1.25) in hand, I boarded a Syracuse number 182 bus, and took a short ride. I wanted to get a printed timetable or two, as I always do when I’m in a different town. I also wanted a little exercise, so simply boarded the bus headed Downtown, got off a mile or so later, and jogged back.
Even at 6 a.m., there were a couple of people getting on. A pity, though, that even at 9 a.m., there are only nine cars in the Park & Ride lot next to the hotel. I don’t know how busy that route gets, but there were at least three inbound trips by the time I typed this. People boarded each of the three. Maybe they get dropped off. But the I-690 was clogged with cars at this point, enough to drop the predominant speed to below 40 m.p.h.
In any event, the bus I was on had lots of seats for the trip into town, and everyone NOT on board would have used $2.50 in gasoline for the round trip in their cars, the cost of a full cash fare round trip on the bus. Why don’t more people use public transit? Especially when it’s so cheap? I’ll tell you: THEY DON’T KNOW HOW.
The bus I was on was reasonably clean, and appeared to be well maintained. For the trip I rode, I was able to obtain a timetable from the driver. For the second bus, I simply waited in line and got a timetable from an on-board "take-one" rack, but did not board to ride.
The first timetable I put in the hotel’s coffee-table book of nearby restaurant menus that sits in the lobby. The second I kept.
The majority of Centro buses are powered by natural gas. Pittsburgh had five of these a few years ago. The CNG (compressed natural gas) engines are essentially the same as standard diesels, but are much quieter. I saw a few diesels, but most had the roof-mounted CNG tanks. I also saw a couple of hybrid diesel-electrics while walking around Syracuse, but not many.
So far, I have only seen one bus with a bicycle rack. In Pittsburgh, the majority of buses now are bike-accessible, and all new buses are getting them. For Syracuse, they are still rare. Syracuse is a lot more level than most of Pittsburgh, so you’d think the bike-bus combination might be more established, but not yet, apparently.
Well, enough. I need to get packed and out of here. I don’t think I’m leaving the area quite yet -- a couple more places to go, a couple more people to see -- but by tomorrow night I should be back in my own bed.