Monday, November 17, 2008

Why I Ride... Part 1

The reason for this post is twofold- One, there's no juicy local politicking that I know about going on right now. Two, and more important to the 'ole blogodrome, is that I posted a comment on another blog with a link leading back here, and it said that I own a car.
It's true. I own a car. It's a '94 civic with nearly 200,000 miles on it, and it's slowly dying. I keep it around for two reasons- One, public transport and Costco don't mix. Two, I grew up in the High Desert, I still have friends and family there, and getting up there without a car is a herculean task. So yeh, I'm not entirely living the car-free life... I wish I was, because I'd save so much on registration and insurance... but back to the post title. :)

In this first part of what I intend to be a three-part filler series for slow news days, I will talk about my selfish reasons for riding. The following are ways riding the bus benefits me personally.
  • Parking at UCR is ridiculous. Not only does it cost several hundred dollars a year, but that's just for the Gold permit. The parking lots accessible with said permit are either gigantic and on the other side of the freeway, or four blocks from campus with a shuttle bus running there. The saddest part about it, however, is that those lots are FULL. It is HARD to find parking in Lot 30 in the morning (I've had to on occasion, after missing the bus, etc...), and that adds quite a bit of time to what is ostensibly supposed to be the quickest commute option. The bus stop, on the other hand, is right in the middle of campus. UCR Parking- Thanks, but no thanks.
  • UPass. Oh, I love Upass. Upass will forever have a warm, squishy place in my heart. What is UPass? Upass is a program, in place in some form or another at 8 of the 9 campuses of the University of California (not Merced), as well as Riverside Community College and colleges all over the country, that gives students unlimited, free, automatic access to local public transit. Riding the buses here in Riverside is as simple as swiping my college ID card. It's simple, easy, and best of all, free! (I asked RTA who pays for it last week. The University pays for the entire cost of one route, the 51 Crest Cruiser that primarily serves the school, and they also pay RTA a heavily discounted fare for every swipe of the card.)
  • Stress. The traffic here in the IE lies somewhere between the 4th and 5th levels of hell. Drivers are rude and inconsiderate. I can't drive more than a block or two without somebody cutting me off or making some stupid maneuver that makes my blood boil. If I'm on a bus or a train, that means somebody else is dealing with the idiots. Are there dumb people on transit? Sure, but they rarely threaten your life or the structural integrity of the vehicle. And I never have to worry whether or not they have insurance.
  • Stress. Again. My car, as I said, is slowly dying. Mostly it's a cooling issue that's been lingering for a while. Constantly watching the coolant temperature, checking the radiator fluid, turning on the defroster, and calling AAA takes a lot of the enjoyment out of going anywhere. I have been on a broken-down public bus once. I've been riding for a decade. That's a pretty damn good level of reliability. (Though the one time I did, it was an express bus on the freeway and we had a blowout. Not fun. I'll post about that some other time.)
So those are my selfish reasons for riding. See you later with some more socially responsible ones.

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