In a world dependent on cars, I bucked the system for a day.
I tried something new last week and ditched my car to travel solely by foot and public transportation for one day. Taking advantage of SunTran’s deal with Dixie State University to provide free rides for students, I rode the bus most of the way between the university, home and work. I found out how much I really depend on my shabby 2000 Dodge Intrepid and how much I’d miss it when it’s gone.
My home is in Washington, three miles from the nearest bus stop in St. George. Having to be at DSU by 7 a.m., I woke up at 5 a.m., put on my big-boy shoes, packed my essentials in a small backpack, and questioned my life decisions. I strapped on my headlight and started running the first three miles in the dark with the Bees Gees’ song “Stayin’ Alive” playing in my earphones.
I stumbled onto the bus 20 minutes later all sweaty and probably looking confused. The SunTran made it to the transfer station on 100 S near DSU in less than 10 minutes, dropping me off at the university 30 minutes early. One of the best parts of not having a car at DSU was not having to worry about parking, which has gotten pretty hard to find on campus sometimes.
I started to seriously regret being without a car when I went to work after my classes in the afternoon. I work in Bloomington, which is two miles from the nearest SunTran stop. I went for another run to work and back, adding four more miles my distance covered by running.
I still had to take the bus through St. George, transfer to another bus near DSU, and run three more miles before I could finally relax with my homework at home. I wasn’t paying attention and transferred to the wrong bus on the way home, adding an additional 40 minutes to the ride that would have otherwise taken me 15 in a car.
By the time I finally made it home that evening, I had logged 10 miles on foot and was sick and tired of riding the bus. I was sore, tired and annoyed.
The busses didn’t feel like they had air conditioning in them, which was the only downside of my time on the SunTran. It felt good connecting with the community by taking the bus and knowing I could make it around if my car broke down, albeit somewhat uncomfortably.
There was also a feeling of vulnerability attached to not having an immediate mode of transportation. I hated the lack of control I felt knowing if I needed to go somewhere fast for some reason, I wouldn’t be able to make it.
While it was an adventure running around town to catch the bus, it wouldn’t be something I would try again unless SunTran expands the area covered in its routes or until I find a good deal for a road bike on Craigslist.
Having lived in cities like Salt Lake City, Chicago and Seattle where public transportation is a staple, I know the value good public transportation can add to a city. And while St. George continues to grow and its roads become more crowded, increased public transportation could become a great way to get around.
It can be fun taking the bus, and you can feel good pretending to be productive while texting and checking Facebook along the way.