Commuting Roundup

I used the Tappan Zee Express bus to cross the damned bridge for the entire month of July. I missed the bus only once, but I caught a later one so no loss. I sat alone about 80% of the time. The other times the person was asleep (or pretended to be) or I had a fat woman who squelshed over the seat into mine, or a weird garlic smelling guy who wanted to talk about his emergency room trip last night.

I read 7.5 books, listened to 1.5 books on the iPod, but I wrote only about 500 words of fiction. The bus is not a good place to type.

I saved just about $250 in gas, tolls and parking. I did not include wear and tear on the truck, or depreciation.

The bus averages, on a good day, about 50 minutes each way. With my truck it takes a little less than that. I have to leave 15 minutes earlier than with the truck and I arrive at home about 1/2 hour later so I am losing about 15 or so hours of my life, but I made up for that by having some time to read. I spend an extra 1/2 hour at my desk every day and my boss seems to like that.

One bus driver got lost twice. He seems to have attention deficit and twice he has wandered off, missing a turn and then recovering a few minutes later. Once he turned around an went all the way back to the beginning and started over. He’s a nice guy and talks about alien abductions or secret government mind control projects to anyone who will listen, but he doesn’t seem cut out to be a bus driver.

Twice it took more than an hour and a half to get to work or get home. The bridge is always a question mark and a few times a month there is an accident or emergency pothole repair that delays the trip as long as two hours. Four times in the 20 odd years that I’ve been commuting, the bridge has closed down completely, and I’ve had to drive home by traveling 20 miles to another bridge. I don’t know what will happen if the bridge closes and I have no way to get home except the bus.

I learned that I prefer reading print to listening to books on the ipod. I really like listening to books, but reading is a better experience, even on a bouncing bus. I never did get motion sick. The bus trip is short, so I may not have had time.

I am going to continue my commute for at least August. When September comes around, the bus might have teachers and students going to the colleges in Westchester and the city and I have a feeling that seating will be at a premium. The high gas prices will have more of an affect in the fall when new commuters have to make a decision on how to get to their jobs or classes. The bus stops at the White Plains Metro North station and about half the passengers get off there to take a train into New York. The other half gets off at the Galleria mall where, I suspect, they work in one of the stores. I am the only one who gets off at the Westchester Government Office building.


  1. .e. Jim Shannon wrote:

    Sorry to hear about your travel woes. Don;t feel bad the other day the driver was in the far lane missing a bunch of us altogether. He had to at the last minute stop and meander over ahead to pick us up.

    Are you on one of the new low floor busses? They’re nice to ride.
    A lot better then the Jimmies.

    BTW, I’m really seriously considering a trip to World Con for next year. That’d be great to meet you there in Montreal.

    Saturday, August 2, 2008 at 10:23 am | Permalink
  2. Keith wrote:

    The bus is about 20 years old. It’s not that bad and it saves me a ton of money so I shouldn’t complain.

    I am hoping to go to Worldcon, too. I looked at the schedule of the one in Denver and it definitely seems worth it to go to one of these. I have to save about $500 for the trip. I hope I can figure ways to do it on the cheap, though.

    Saturday, August 2, 2008 at 11:54 am | Permalink
  3. .e. Jim Shannon wrote:

    The bus is 20 years old? Those are the GMC Jimmies! We’ve got a few of them on the road as well. I might have missed it but have you thought of a monthly transit pass? Ours are $66.50/mo.

    I hear to ride in Vancouver because of all the Zones is about $180/mo. At least here in Canada we get a tax break for using public transportation as long as Harper is in power.

    I’d love to go to Montreal but my wife doesn;t like the idea of me traveling alone or she thinks I’m off with an old girlfriend.


    Sunday, August 3, 2008 at 3:41 am | Permalink