Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. This blog is advertising-free, and is supported by my subscribers on Patreon. History adventuring posts are shared there daily. The basic tier is a dollar a month, and the PhD tier, which includes "then and now" photos, billboards, aerials, videos, and super high-definition photos, is five dollars a month, and is discounted for seniors, veterans, and students. If you're a subscriber, thank you! You make this happen!
Treating buses as if they were trains in the old days
I like reading old books, and one of the things I've noticed is that people used to know the exact time when trains would leave. That is, a train would leave Paddington Station at 12:04, and people would say, "I have to rush and catch the 12:04!" Or they would be at a country house and know that the train that would get them back to London in time would be 6:17. And they would ask the chauffeur to drive them to station to get there in time for the 6:17, which would get them to London by 8:02. This way of thinking has nothing to do with how I've lived my life, because I've always just jumped in my car and complained of traffic. So today I'll be doing an experiment with the bus - I'll be taking the 1:33 to my dentist. I could, of course, take the 1:03 but that would get me to my destination way too early. If I miss the 1:33, I'll have to wait another half-hour, in which case I would call my dentist to say that I would be running late. People in old books did this all of the time, but I'm sure I'll be fine.
I've lived in this neighborhood for over twenty years, but I've rarely ridden the bus. But there's a regular schedule, which is the same every day, except weekends, and little by little I've been learning my stops. Of course, I have my phone with an app to check on it, but mostly I like the idea of "catching the 1:33"
I used to ride the bus when I was a kid in Minneapolis, and I never looked at a bus schedule. I was a kid, with no particular schedule, and I knew that there would be a city bus along every twenty minutes. In the Phoenix area it's every half hour on the major streets, except weekends, when it's every hour. But as a grownup, I really don't want to just fly completely blind - I can read schedules, I have a Smart Phone, I can use apps.
To do this today, I've set an alarm for 1:20 pm on my phone. It will take me about ten minutes to walk to "the station" (the bus stop).
Riding public transportation takes more preparation than just getting in your car. I'm "pigmentally challenged" (a white guy with pale skin) so I have to wear sunscreen. I probably won't be spending a lot of time out in the sun, but I do it just in case. I buy the Light Rail passes (which are also good on the bus) which I can use all day - they're the green ones, and they cost four dollars. My trip to the dentist would be much more expensive with an Uber, which I can do if I twist my ankle or something, but it's a beautiful day, and I want to do a little bit of walking, so it's perfect. By the way, if I decided to go all of the way out to Mesa and back here to Glendale the same card would do for me all day. That's quite a bargain! Certainly cheaper than if I drove! And with this pass I can get out and go eat, and then catch the next train, or bus.
Since I'm not driving, I won't be inside of an environmentally-controlled bubble. Cars are nice that way, you never have to worry about rain, or cold, or anything. Taking the bus, like riding a train, exposes you to the elements, at least a little bit, so it's good to check the weather. I just did, it's mostly cloudy, but no rain in the forecast, and the high today will be 83 degrees. For that I'll be fine with bluejeans and a tee-shirt. If I were traveling early or late I'd take a light jacket, just to be sure, and I'd probably carry it in a backpack. I won't need a backpack today, and the less I have to carry the better for me. That's also something that people had to do on trains, carry things. You don't have to carry anything in a car!
Doing all of this not only entertains me, it folds into my fitness program. About five years ago I lost a lot of weight, and have kept it off, which isn't easy. So, as I say, everything counts towards my fitness program, even riding the bus!
Image at the top of this post: Trains pulling into the station in 1930s downtown Phoenix. In my imagination today, I'll be on a train. Gotta catch the 1:33! And yes, I've got my fare, and just a trifle to spare!
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Posted by Brad Hall