Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Taking the night bus



Four new routes now allow people to leave the main Asheville terminal as late as 10pm, and, in some cases, as late as 12:30am. On Saturday night, I rode two of these late routes to see how they worked out in order to report on them for you.

I started across town from the furthest point in East Asheville, to my home at the far end of West Asheville. I would take the #29 to the main terminal, then transfer onto the #41.

The #29 was on time at 09:10pm in front of a hotel near exit 55 on I-40. This route ferries students from Warren Wilson college to Asheville, so I wasn't surprised to be one of the older people on the bus. It's been a long time since I've shared a vehicle with a bunch of college students - they sounded like a pack of excited puppies.

Did I use to sound like that when I was younger?

Due to some minor delays loading up at one of the bus-stops, the#29 looked like it was going to be a few minutes late to the main terminal. I asked the driver if this meant I would miss the #41 to get home.

The driver (politely) told told me that in the future, if I had to catch another bus at the station to let him know in advance so he could have it wait up. He then radioed my predicament to the other driver, and I was able to hop on #41 on Patton Road rather than the station.

The second bus had a completely different vibe from the first. Where #29 was filled with young pups on their way out drinking, #42 was occupied by working folks going home. I asked a few of them about their experiences with the new late-routes.

Two typical responses:

"Ever since I left my abusive boyfriend six months ago, I've had to walk home across the French Broad River alone to get home from my shift," said a 30-something McDonalds employee.

"This is the first time I was able to work a whole shift without begging for a ride home," said a young man who looked startlingly like local artist CJ Randel.

It's startling to realize that a simple extension of a public utility could have such a profound effect on people. This is something I'm going to have to explore more during this project.

At 09:57pm I asked the driver to let me off on the corner of Patton and Haywood roads. From there, it only took me three minutes to bike to my house.

By 10:01pm I was home.

The lessons:

  1. Tell the driver if you need to transfer when you first get on the bus.
  2. Within reason, the drivers are able to accommodate your needs in an absolute pinch. Don't be shy about asking for help.
Notes:
  • For the the entire "Brainshrub Bus Project" series click here.
  • This article was originally posted here.

3 comments:

ash said...

Fascinating diary, 'shrub. Keep up the great work!

YaYa3 said...

Great report. Fun adventure. I wanna try that.

1000 black lines said...

Wow, I never imagined how interested blog readers would be in bus stories. I've been riding Asheville buses for the last several years and only recently started to blog about overheard conversations. Nice to read another blogger posting about Asheville's public transportation.