Guest Column: Confession of a First Time Bus Rider

Screen shot 2015-02-17 at 9.53.56 AMLife coach and entrepreneur Carolyn Scarborough provides an honest look at the apprehension and joys of riding Capital Metro’s 803 bus downtown for the first time – and what she learned along the way.

OK, I’ve got a confession. I’ve lived in Austin for 12 years and have never ridden the bus. I always figured my car would get me where I need to go, and didn’t give it much thought beyond that. And besides, riding a bus would mean – gasp – getting out of my comfort zone! I was willing to do that in other areas of my life, but not with my transportation.

Last week, my daughter and I made plans to meet downtown for lunch near her office. When I groused about parking, she suggested I take the bus. I hesitated, but finally decided to take the challenge.

I looked up the bus schedules, but found myself slightly terrified about deciphering a route from the maze of options. Luckily, I have an inside connection at Movability Austin – okay, full disclosure, it’s my daughter! I felt a bit sheepish, but called her for help. She told me exactly where my closest stop was, what number bus to get on, how to buy a ticket and where to get off.

Once I knew what to expect and what I needed, I set off. I went to the bus stop and waited. (Next time, I’ll be sure to install the Capital Metro app which tells me when the bus will arrive!)

The bus came within about five minutes, and off I went. The adventure that came next was what surprised me. Sitting on the bus looking out the window, I saw my city in a whole different way. I’d been on buses on vacations, but never in my own town. As we went through my neighborhood, I saw restaurants and businesses I’d never noticed before, let alone everything I spotted outside my own hood.

Sitting with the small group on the bus, I overheard conversations about art, waitressing and the best swimming spots in town. Even though I didn’t talk, I felt like I was part of a community. I was in this small community on the bus, which was part of the larger community of my town, Austin.

Finally, I got to my stop – yeah, no search for parking or bumper cars! – and walked a few blocks to the restaurant. I passed friendly dog walkers, a shopkeeper sweeping the sidewalk, music streaming from a restaurant window and interesting window displays. In short, I felt PART of the city. My city.

I hadn’t realized the disconnection that had seeped into my goal focused, solitary car rides. I also felt a bit silly that I had resisted for so long something that was not only easy, but actually a lot of fun!

After lunching with my daughter, I hopped on the bus home and called my husband, who commutes downtown daily by car. I explained that if he wanted to try the bus there was free Wi-Fi and express service. He was excited.

Next up? Trying a new route to a favorite coffee shop!

Movability can help you take the steps to your own bus discovery! Contact us, and we’ll walk you through everything you’ll need to know to get started.

image via Capital Metro

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