I started riding the Cincinnati Metro to work in 2000, as an outgrowth of biking to work. Bike commuting drove home the point, to me, that I almost never needed a car during the day (the traditional objection to driving to work), and had some options if I needed to get home quickly. So, when the weather is not conducive to biking to work, I take the bus. Rarely do I get stuck at the office too late to take the bus, and almost never have an issue.
So, last night, I had an unprecedented delay.
There were predictions of snow yesterday, though I expected it to come just after the morning rush hour. I made a point to get out to the bus stop and not miss my ride–leaving the driving to someone else during bad weather is just one of the perks of bussing it. It started as a flurry–nothing to worry about. Then, big fluffy flakes came down. Eventually, I couldn’t see to the river from my office window (usually, we can see quite a way into Kentucky). I got a text from my wife letting me know that she got home, but struggled a bit to get up our hill. I heard of long delays. I decided to wait for a somewhat later bus, to get past the wait.
I targeted a bus leaving at 5:45. As I approached the stop at just past 5:40, I saw one of the routes I take leave–the one scheduled for 5:25. Yikes–a twenty minute delay. This past summer,they installed new signs, with updates on arrival times and schedules. Some routes showed delays of five or ten minutes. For my routes, it simply said “delayed.” Lovely.
I stood waiting for the bus. I moved to a spot between the points where the two routes I take pick up passengers. With no information, I was reluctant to retreat into a building to warm up and perhaps browse a magazine rack. I felt my toes get cold. My headphones started making the “low battery tone.” My wife texted that a neighbor who also works downtown took an hour to get home. I mentally decided it was the high water mark. I watched the backed-up traffic slowly go past my stop and towards Columbia Parkway.
I didn’t want to make my wife and daughter set out again in this weather. There were taxis nearby, and I’ve taken them in the past when either I missed the last bus for a long time, or there was an emergency at home. Since I heard it may take an hour, I didn’t want to spend it in the cab. But, as it got later, I started to doubt a bus would come. And I got colder.
Just as I started to try to find out the status of the roads and consider the taxi, I saw a bus coming–it was my route! I jogged to its stop, and got on. Based on my tweets, it was 6:41–nearly an hour past the pick-up time. The bus driver said it took her an hour to come from the other end of the route. Once on the road, the ride took more-or-less as long as it usually took.
I don’t perceive this to be an argument against the bus. This is the only time this has happened in a dozen years, and it was extreme conditions. If anything, I was glad I wasn’t sitting in traffic behind the wheel. However, I’m glad that today has warmer temperatures, no predicted percipitation, and likely no issues getting home.