Have you noticed that the price of gasoline has dropped lately? Good, then you do have a pulse. Even with the price of gas dropping from amazingly to reasonably expensive, the long term rationale for energy conservation remains. I like to imagine that young master Dylan and I do our part to help out by walking, running, and biking around town whenever possible, yet I had never bothered to catch a ride on the local bus!
We started out by researching the available routes and information at the local transit website, MATBus.Com.
On the first trip we went shopping at some stores along East Highway 10 in Moorhead. The fare was $1.25 each way (Dylan rides for free, as do all kids up to preschool age). We were able to get some grocery shopping done, pick up a few pair of socks for the little guy, and pack up all of our loot in the ol’ Daddybag by the time our departing bus arrived (or did the arriving bus depart?). Our second and third bus adventures to parks and local malls occurred during Try Transit Week (October 20-25) so we paid a total of $.25 each way. What a deal!
Dylan is a rambunctious toddler, so I was a little apprehensive about how he would behave in a moving vehicle when not strapped down like a racecar driver in his car seat. It turns out that he loves the bus since there are so many people to look at and windows to look out of, and when things get squirmy we just open up a book and read. Saying “hi” to strangers may be awkward for adults on the bus, but Dylan doesn’t know any better so he lights up people’s faces with his smiles and uninhibited friendliness.
One of the things I noticed about riding the bus is that it made me feel like a real urban dweller, like I was a part of a bustling city with people of all colors and economic backgrounds. It gave me a sense of “street cred” that you just can’t get by driving to the store in your four door sedan while listening to NPR. Now some kinds of gritty I could do without, such as the man who urinated near the front of the bus on one of our trips, but I think that we sometimes lose sight of each other’s humanity and that it is a good thing to get out of your comfort zone and experience reality outside of your own perspective; outside of your own automobile.
Riding the bus also brings a definite sense of “green cred”. We recently chose to become a one car family and now that the weather has turned cooler I will not be able to run and bike as much as I would like, so we will be using public transportation more often. According to the Metro Area Transit website, “By eliminating one car in a two-car household, taking public transportation instead of driving can result in a savings of up to 30% of a household’s annual carbon dioxide emissions.”
Saving money is a factor as well; the monthly cost for an unlimited rides bus pass is lower than the monthly liability only insurance bill we were paying for our second car, and spending $50 several times a month to fill up the tank is now a thing of the past.
Gasoline is selling for less than $4 a gallon again, but how much comfort do you take in the lower prices? When I look into my crystal ball, my toddler’s future does not include driving a gasoline powered automobile. Dylan will not be driving one hundred and fifty miles a day solo on the interstate to commute to his job. Our children will have a better way because the ways of the past are no longer sustainable, and there will have to be a better way.
We will not be able to solve our energy and transportation problems overnight, but we can catch a bus once in a while, we can carpool with a neighbor, we can walk to the store. We can take steps now to make change less painful, and to model sustainable behavior for the next generation. Yes, we can.
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