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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Stuff it!

I want a car!

Excuse my momentary lapse into whining. It's been a long day, and it's only half done.

When we moved here, we got rid of our car. It was a good decision, and while I miss it, I don't regret it. We have access to public transit now, and overall it's a very good system. One of the better ones of the various cities we've lived in, but then we live close to downtown, so we've got plenty of choices available to us. A brisk walk gets us to a train station that takes us to most places we need to go. We've got a bus stop practically outside the door to our building that takes us to most other places we need to go. It's cheaper by far, and we never have to worry about parking, insurance and the price of gas.

But I'm starting to really want a car again!

Just to use today as an example of why. I needed to pick up some new filters, etc. for Dh's CPAP. Because the company's office hours are pretty much the same as Dh's, there's no chance of him getting the stuff he needs. I wonder how we'd work it out if I were working out of home full time, too? :-P

The office I need to get to is in the south side of the city. We live in the north side of the city. It's been about 6 months since I've been to this place, so while the girls and I went downtown, I checked the map to verify which bus we needed to transfer to - and what I was finding didn't make any sense. I was *sure* we'd taken a particular route, but according to the map, there was only 1 route going past there during our time frame, and that wasn't it. I called to verify the address (turned out I had an old one), but that didn't change anything. The transit map still said we needed to take a different bus route. The stop was close by, though, so it wasn't any more inconvenient than the other choice, but I still found it odd. We take this alternate route to our location and...

... sure enough, at the stop I could see that the other route I'd remembered (along with almost a half dozen others) did go past this place. No problem. Time spent: about 45 minutes.

The girls and I go into the office, get what we need (took all of 10 minutes), then head to the return bus stop, which was right in front of the building. We had to run for it, with Eldest slipping on some ice and landing on hard along the way, but we did catch a bus right away and Eldest was unhurt.

When we got downtown, we crossed the street to the bus stop that would take us home, though we were going to bypass home to go to the grocery store. The bus at this time of day is supposed to be running every 15 minutes.

It wasn't.

At least 20 minutes later, with no sign of our bus anywhere, we give up and go below ground to the train station (and you just know that, 2 minutes after we left, our bus would've arrived... *L*). It meant more of a walk by taking the train, but we were soon at the grocery store.

Because we didn't have time to stop at home first, we didn't bring our own bags, nor did we have our folding cart that we take with us (even though it's broken). That means we had things like a big bag of flour, a sack of rice, 4L's of milk, and all those other heavy things to carry. We manage to get them to be bus stop, in spite of the fact that the bagger did a rather crappy job and even tore one of the bags all down one side. We had to pause part way, put our bags down on the ground and re-pack some of them. Good thing I'd asked for double bags. :-P So there we are, waiting at the bus stop again for another 20 minutes or so.

Finally, we get home, over 3 hours after we'd left, to do things that took a total of less than an hour.

As for tonight, I'm looking at another 2 hours on the bus total to go someplace that, by car, might take only 10 minutes. Why so long? Well, first I have to go downtown. Then I'll need to run the gauntlet of panhandlers to reach another stop across the street. There's one particular panhandler that seems to have staked that corner out for herself. If the first bus is on time, I've only got a minute to wait for my connection. If not, I've got 10-15 minutes to the next bus. I then take the second bus to a transit centre, where I wait for yet a third bus. Total time, just under an hour.

The trip home, however, will be longer. The return to the transit center is unchanged, and my connection to downtown is usually already there. Once I get downtown, though, I'm dropped off in a different spot. The gauntlet of panhandlers is much bigger by this stop, and I usually get hit up for money several times before reaching my next stop half a block up. Because of the timings of the route, I'll be waiting there for about 20 minutes to half an hour.

All that to get to a place that I could probably walk to in less time, though not while wearing business dress.

It's basically getting to the point were getting a car is a necessity, and transit is not as reliable as it could be. The Suzuki's and Gore's of the world who keep preaching for us peasants to take public transit from the comfort of their jets and diesel coaches can just stuff it up their ears. They're not the ones lugging bags of groceries to and from bus stops, or standing outside with their kids in -20C weather for 45 minutes, waiting for a bus or cab than never comes, or taking 3 hours to do something that should only take 1.

Me; I want a car.


  1. I fully understand. I would be lost without my car! Although today as I was stopped to get my oil changed I noticed that when I step on the brake a noise comes out the cassette deck of the car!No noise on the outside of the car. The guy that was changing the oil listened and told me to trade it is soon :( Always something with a car! I think I still owe too much to trade it in.

  2. Damn. I don't know how you do it!

  3. I personally don't find our city to be manageable without a car. I ease my guilt about driving everywhere by avoiding long trips. We visit the closest library, the closest grocery store, the closest preschool, gymnastics, and music classes, etc. I'm not one to drive across town just so I can buy something at a special store. If I do have to go across town, I try to combine errands. We even moved across town so that dh could be 5 minutes from work. Honestly, he could ride his bike if he was motivated enough. Unfortunately, I can't make him do it.

    I also take the car instead of the truck because it's much better on gas. My next car will be even more fuel efficient.

  4. Sounds like you and I are on much the same page, Correne. I'm a big one for combining errands into one trip as much as possible - of course, with transit, there's not much choice, but we did it when we had a car, too.

    You know, when I think about it, I've yet to live in a city that had really good transit - where we are now is probably one of the best, which kind of tells ya something, eh?

    I think maybe the transit systems tend to be designed by people who never use transit. :-P


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