My last blog was more of a rant about my views on transportation. I hope for this one to be more about the problems I have faced during my car free challenge.
The only bus line that I use is a 50 Poplar. Everywhere I need to go is either on Poplar or within biking distance from a bus stop.
I have had 4 issues while using the 50 Poplar this month. Two were outbound and two were inbound.
(Outbound) The first incident was when I was with my girlfriend Anna and we were leaving Home Depot and wanted to go to her house. We had to wait at the bus stop outside of Home Depot for about 10 minutes. We were getting to the point where we thought the bus wasn’t even coming. After waiting for 5 minutes it had started to get dark and Anna’s suggested that we walk the short distance to my house and take my car to her house. I told her we’d wait 5 more minutes and low and behold we saw a bus chock-full of passengers coming towards us. It was a tight squeeze but we fit on.
(Inbound) The second time was after dinner when I wanted to take the bus home. This time I had to wait nearly 15 minutes for the bus to come. I would not have waited so long if the weather wasn’t so nice and I hadn’t had the previous waiting experience. Again the bus was packed like a can of sardines.
(Outbound) This time it was somewhat my fault. We had left my house a little late to walk to the bus stop but we were still on time with what Google maps told us. A couple hundred yards before getting to the bus stop we saw the bus drive away. I looked at my watch and noticed that the bus was 4 minutes early. Anna and I reluctantly decided to walk back to my house and take my car rather than waiting almost an hour for the next bus.
(Inbound) The fourth incident was on Sunday morning. We were leaving Anna’s house going back to my house. This time we were on time and were almost 10 minutes early to the bus stop, but again before getting to the stop we saw the bus drive away. I couldn’t believe that the bus was so early and that we had been left. This time I didn’t have my car so we had to make the 2.5 mile trek to my house by foot.
The moral of my blog this time is that the bus schedule is all but reliable. Sure there have been instances when the bus was on time, but there is no need for me or any other passenger to have to wait 10 to 15 minutes on the bus or watch the bus drive away 5 to 10 minutes early.
I think that bus riders need to work together with MATA officials to totally rework the bus system in Memphis. Bus riders are the ones that know when buses should be coming and where they should be going. We need new routes, new timetables, and more riders. If we made our buses more reliable and accessible to all Memphis residents the number of cars being used in Memphis on a daily basis would be drastically reduced. This would allow for more paving of bike lanes and would greatly reduce emissions, noise pollution, and road damage.
I went to a discussion at the Central Library tonight about planning transportation in Memphis. A man made the comment that the 5 Central is an underused bus route and that funding for that route could be used for the 50 Poplar. I totally disagree. I think that we are way too dependent upon one route. Our bus system cannot be a one trick pony. Instead of decreasing funding or cutting out the 5 Central altogether we should work to increase ridership upon this route. This is the route that goes to the University of Memphis and It is critical to get students and faculty to and from the University.
Thank you again for reading my blog.