Thursday, May 14, 2009

ECO ACTION: First Bus Pass

Eco-Action Girl got her first bus pass this week!

Went for a ride today on the new SEAT (Southeast Area Transit) Pawcatuck/Mystic Run #10 to gather info about stops and services.  I caught it just a short walk from our street and rode it round trip, chatting with the driver along the way.

This was the first time I'd used a public bus in about 20 years!  Only the third time in my life, I'm ashamed to say.  

My previous experiences had not been good ones.  This time was entirely different.
Here's the stop at Olde Mistick Village shopping center, located in the back parking lot near this landmark, right across from the Mystic Aquarium.

Around here, people have the perception that riding the bus is just for seniors, the disabled or those who can't afford to own a car.

Using public transportation is for anyone.  Especially those who want to live more simply and sustainably.  That's why it's called "public" transportation.  We are the public.

Until today, I had the notion that the bus would be noisy, dirty, crowded, time-consuming and uncomfortable.

It was anything but.

I got where I was going in about the same amount of time as if I'd driven, and I got to chat along the way with a very friendly and helpful driver in her brand-new bus (similar to the buses used as airport shuttles, except with all the seats facing forward).

The cost for a one way ticket ($1.25) was  comparable to what I would have spent on gas going the same distance.  And I got to sit back and relax.

I took notes on all the stops and picked up a pile of brochures to spread around.  Also got info on connecting routes so I can use them going to adjacent towns.

I want to get the word out about this new run.

Many people can benefit from its availability, but it's not widely known.  I just happened to stumble upon a brochure at the grocery store customer service counter or I wouldn't have been aware of its existence.

Ridership will need to go up if SEAT is to see that it's worthwhile to keep it going.  A similar run existed about 5 years ago, but was eliminated because of under-use.

This time, perhaps economic realities and environmental awareness will be just the nudge people need to stand up and take a SEAT.


  1. I confess, I don't use buses much any more. But - the third time in your life? How do kids get to school in the US?
    My daughter bought a house near a good bus route, and has never driven a car in her life (she probably couldn't have afforded the house if she'd bought a car). She loves the bus because she carries her laptop everywhere and gets a lot of writing done on the bus. We have good public transport here, unfortunately my job isn't near a bus route or rather it would involve several changes of bus to get there by bus.

  2. Catherine: I guess I wasn't counting school buses in my ridership tally. In the US school buses are often owned and run, or contracted by individual school districts. Public bus systems are separate entities with runs that aren't necessarily set up to connect efficiently between schools and residential areas.

    Still, because of Proposition 13 in California (freezing property taxes and cutting budgets) even school buses weren't available for most of the years I was in school. Either I walked or my mom drove me.