Search Lobsterland

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Nobody Rides the Bus

I always feel super lazy when I get on the bus instead of biking the whole way to or from work. I ruled the bus out as an option completely for a long time, years, because the first time I tried it the MAX threw my bike off the front rack. I may not have put the arm on right, I don’t know, but it freaked me out. And full disclosure, I had a strong anti-transit bias going into that situation. I formed a lot of political opinions working for a doomed business that aimed to combine the Pitch/Riverfront Times local tabloid with the National Review.

The result was the only publication to so thoroughly champion market forces in Kansas City was slain forces. Anyway, this winter I've found a new love/hate relationship with the bus.

I've been guilty, no doubt in the pages of this blog, of claiming transit is stupid because nobody rides the bus. There were sixteen nobodies on the bus when I boarded this morning.

It’s just so damned easy in the morning when I’m not feeling ambitious, the 101 comes a couple blocks from my house at 6:11, I can transfer to the MAX downtown, be early to work. And I can vary how much biking I do. Bare minimum: .3 miles from my house to the 101; catty-corner across the street to catch the MAX at 11th & Main, take the MAX all the way to 74th & Broadway. Right around 13 miles on the bus, 1.1 on the bike. Get to work a quarter past seven.

Or I can (and often do) hop off the 101 at 10th & Main, and ride my bike a mile (almost entirely downhill) and catch the MAX at the streetcar stop at 20th & Main. There’s a lovely museum guard who gets on at this stop, I asked her how come so early when the museum doesn’t open until 10:00, and apparently the construction workers building an exhibit start work at 7:00 and her job is to guard them. Which she described actually as ‘hanging out’ with them.

If I need some breakfast, lunch & soda type things from Price Chopper, I’ll get off at 63rd. Or sometimes at the same stop as the museum guard, in front of American Century: that way I get to bomb Main Street onto the Plaza.

So sometimes it’ll be six or seven miles on the bike and the balance on the bus. Or like this morning, when it was 38ºF and raining, I maxed out the bus options and barely rode my bike.

And aside from the occasional annoyingly crazy person and a couple of nonstop talkers who don’t really have anything to say (for the record, not Jesus Royals Superman, he's a fine bus mate: whatever his story is he doesn't go vomiting it onto anyone who happens to be nearby), the bus is pleasant enough. I can zone out on my phone and just relax, which is way better than driving. Plus, in the afternoon, I get to bike the whole way home. The bus options are there, then, too, but I hardly ever take them.

So I guess my guilt over being lazy in the morning ought to be offset by the evening miles. I’m still biking more miles than I would if I slept in and drove to work, which I guess is what I tended to do back when I ruled out the bus option. I’ve ridden in cold rain plenty of times, I have the gear, it’s not even that bad once you’re doing it. But given a cushy option…

All of which gets me back to that thing about my formative political years. I still think the left really lacks a comprehension of markets and their beauty. But I'll have to cop a Paul Ryan and admit that my black and white views weren't aligned with reality. I bought into that Cold War notion that socialism equals oppression (and socialism is certainly a handy tool for a dictator). But Sweden, Norway, Denmark, France, these countries have their problems but they're not totalitarian regimes nor desperate hellholes of economic despair. Russia, on the other hand, supposedly quit the Commie thing almost 30 years ago and it's still a repressive shitbag place to live.

Could it be that ideology matters less than not being a jerk? Power hungry maniacs frequently ruin socialism, cheaters often spoil capitalism, maybe the common element is we need to get rid of the jerks first and then pick the best elements of several models. Markets rule, and sometimes a universal public good really exists and justifies a little 'we're doing this together.'

No comments: