During the work week Brian and I commute to work via a carpool; however, March 13, 2012, one of us decided to catch the bus instead.
One of the goals of this "Ride the Bus to Work Day!" is to encourage mixed and balanced transportation options for everyone in the Omaha Metropolitan area. We already carpool; so this was my chance to experience another means of green transportation for myself.
I had made a pact with a fellow coworker to participate. Patrick Wheeler is the champion of sustainability at my day job. We both serve on the GreenUNO Task Force (he is the chair), which encouraged the entire University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) campus to participate in this community sustainability initiative. So, we both decided to lead by example and take the bus to work that day.
There was some legwork involved; since, both of us live in west Omaha and have not rode a bus in years. Patrick originally found a route for us but it would take us 1 hour and 20 minutes with transfers. After more research he found what we would agree on — a Park and Ride Program — offered by metro, the transit authority of the City of Omaha. We both agreed on Route 92 Dodge Express with a travel time of 27 minutes.
I did have to rise a little earlier than most days on the 13th. Got in my Chrysler and drove to Village Pointe. Patrick and his wife had scouted the parking situation out before hand. So, I knew when I pulled into the parking lot southwest of the Village Pointe theater and spotted Patrick I was in the right place. Pretty soon after our arrival the bus pulled up. The bus driver greeted me with a chipper, "Good morning!" I whipped out my crisp dollar bill and two quarters for admittance. And, Patrick and I found our seats and we were off to work. Not quit yet, there were two more stops on the north side of Dodge at a couple business parks before we were officially on our way. We traveled down Dodge Street the heaviest traveled street Monday through Friday in Omaha. Where we'd usually be greeted by bumper to bumper traffic, sun glare and pot holes.
|Patrick and I riding the bus to work.|
On our ride, I kind of took it all in like an outsider looking in. Easedropping on conversations and getting quick glances of what shoes or business attire other women were wearing. I literally felt like a big city person taking a bus to work. My favorite passenger the whole day had to be a little girl next to me. She got on the bus with her dad and sat in his lap clutching onto a cheese stick. She didn't look awake at all. I wan't to tell her I was sleepy, too. Patrick commented on the guy who sat in front of us who greeted all the regulars by name. We continued to whisk down Dodge. We were not the first to leave the bus. A college co-ed would be the first to push the button. I knew when she got on the bus she was a student. These kids and their sumo hairdos. I was okay getting off the bus at her stop but Patrick insisted we wait. Glad we did because we got let off practicially at our building's front door.
Catching the bus back was a whole different story. Originally a bus was spotted but it was not ours. I told Patrick look for the one with the bike. I was right. A guy got on with us earlier in the day with bicycle shorts and all. It was also a little behind schedule. We would find out when we got on why. This made me anxious. We both had to stand most of the way until we reached the business park stop. The bus driver even commented about there being too many people on the bus. My anxious feeling soon melted away seeing all of the green commuters of all ages and ethnicities choosing alternate transportation. I was excited that the bus was full. Which I loudly decreed to Patrick. Who enthusiastically smiled back. Even for a Tuesday, people seemed to be firing on all cylinders on their way home. People had cellphones, laptops and iPads out. We continued down Dodge and made the two stops and at number three would be greeted by our cars nestled into Village Pointes' parking lot. Patrick and I said our goodbyes and drove off.
So, Patrick, myself, Omaha's city council members and others throughout the metro took the bus to work that day. The cost for the entire day's commute $3. Great with a friend, conversation, people watching and a little girls' cheesy smile made for a priceless green memory. We can all be proud in our actions that we helped ease congestion and reduce emissions on our commute to work. Most importantly, Patrick and myself have committed to continue be green and take the bus in the future.
Whether a novice or a first-time bus rider, visit Metro or ModeShift websites for tools on riding the bus in Omaha. Park and ride options are also available. For details, visit http://ometro.com/rider-guide/park-ride.
In celebration of the 42nd anniversary of Earth Day population-we™ staffers will celebrate our love for planet earth with green posts the entire month of April! Thanks for reading our second Earth Day post.