Two weeks ago, I purchased my first monthly bus pass from IndyGo.
Previously, my commutes regularly consisted of driving my pickup truck from Irvington to downtown Indianapolis, consisting of 13 miles roundtrip.Â I had been a regular bus rider not that long ago.Â But between changes in my job and personal activities, riding a bus didnâ€™t seem convenient.Â The freedom provided by my truck wasnâ€™t just a desire; it seemed liked a necessity.
But then my truck broke down.Â And the cost to fix it was more than it was worth.Â While a second vehicle will be in our future, weâ€™re trying to hold off on that purchase for as long as practicable.
So I said goodbye to solo commuting and hello to bus riding.
For those of you who donâ€™t participate in this cityâ€™s mass transit, know this: it is very possible to have positive, successful experiences commuting by city bus.Â And to be honest, for me, depending on mass transit instead of my pickup truck has improved the quality of my life.
Many will lament the notion of having to conform to a bus schedule.Â And admittedly, it is a challenge if you are used to going places on a whim.Â For me, it has provided some stability to my daily life.Â For example, I know that I have to be at the bus stop by 7:30am to be at work on time; this means that Iâ€™m not hitting the snooze button on my alarm clock as often.Â I am more disciplined than before.
When I have other events or activities to consider aside from going to work and coming home, I have to plan my day out in advance.Â What stop will I take?Â What route will I transfer to?Â How long will it take?Â Can I combine multiple activities?Â Previously, having my pickup truck allowed me to be lazy and unorganized.Â But now I have to think ahead.Â I am more organized than before.
My morning commute does not consist of me fighting with other drivers, jockeying for position, and hunting for a parking spot.Â Instead, I find my seat, pull out my smart phone, and enjoy my morning.Â I check my email; catch up on Twitter and Facebook; read the Indianapolis Star, the NPR News, the Chicago Tribune, ESPN, and the daily comics.Â Iâ€™ll listening to my music or watch videos.Â All of this happens while somebody else is driving.Â Now I arrive relaxed and prepared, ready to start my day.
Having purchased a monthly bus pass instead of paying for trips individually, I have found another nice perk: the freedom to go wherever I please.Â Iâ€™m not hindered by the prospect of paying another $1.75 to take the bus.Â And I have travelled.Â To Broad Ripple and Fountain Square, to stores and restaurants, to attractions and friends.Â All I have to do is look at the route map and the timetables.
Admittedly there are drawbacks.Â If your trip requires one or more transfers, it can lead to a long trip.Â And the majority of routes involve a loop around downtown.Â So if time is of the essence, taking the bus may not be the best solution.
But I believe things will change for the better. We will see changes to Indianapolisâ€™ public transit system and an increase in options. Â I think IndyGo can be a strong backbone for future transportation planning in our city. Â Improvements have been made.Â New signage makes bus stop identification easier.Â They now communicate what routes they serve.
Buses are outfitted with GPS that provides automated bus announcements (next stop: Washington and Sherman) for easier use by patrons.Â It also provides drivers with a clock letting them know how far ahead or behind they are.Â And because of this technology, IndyGo can communicate with users via Twitter (@IndyGobus) what routes are running behind.Â I hope in the future weâ€™ll be able to follow our buses on their website, so that we can pinpoint exactly when they will arrive at our stop.Â And that some stops will have digital displays indicating when the next bus will arrive.
And I havenâ€™t even begun to discuss the positive social and personal aspects that come from the communal experience of riding on the bus (learning to live peacefully with others; experiencing neighborhoods instead of trying to just get through them).Â But thatâ€™s for another time.Â For now, Iâ€™m planning on buying my monthly pass and enjoying the ride.