On Becoming a Bus Rider
By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
June 25, 2008
I finally did it.
I left my car home and rode the bus to work.
I’d been talking about it even before gas prices tripped over the $4
mark. I wanted to reduce my carbon foot print. Help save the planet. Do my
part for the team.
But I really didn’t want to give up the security, the independence that
comes with having your car right there within starting-up-and-driving-wherever-you-want-to-go
reach. Not really. Not enough to push after work meetings later than 5 p.m.
or 5:30 so I could take the bus and make the meeting, too.
Until Tuesday. (Monday I had a meeting in Portsmouth that I –conveniently??—forgot
was at 6 o’clock and not 5:30 so I had to drive. Didn’t I?)
Taking the bus for me means getting up earlier. I know it shouldn’t
but I’m not a morning person. I’m a burn-it-as-late-in-the-evening-as-I-can-get-away-with-and-still-function-the-next-day
kind of person.
Or always have been.
But that’s going to change. Monday night I adjusted my turn-in time
by an hour so there’d be no excuse about getting up and making it out
of the house at exactly 7:20 so I could be certain to catch the 7:40 bus at
The Pic (Portsmouth lingo for the Hannaford Supermarket on Islington Street
that will forever be known to the townies as the Pic-n-Pay or, for true locals,
as The Pic.)
As I pulled into a parking space, I spotted a few people sitting on a bench
up against the building while another two or three stood nearby. Pulling out
my book, which I’d put near my gym bag so I wouldn’t forget either
in my morning rush, I joined the bench folks and got in about five minutes
of reading before the Wildcat bus arrived. Right on time.
Then I got on, settled into a seat and read the whole way to work. Read. In
the morning. For 20 to 25 minutes. Unheard of. There was a brief pause when
a woman whose office is in a building near mine got on at the mall. A tried-and-true
buser, she knew I’d been working my way up to riding the bus for months.
“Welcome to the bus,” she said, telling me she is so enamored
with UNH’s public transportation she juggles her schedule to make it
work as close to 100 percent of the time as possible.
The ride passed quickly. I looked up when we turned in near McDonalds. Then
again on the General Sullivan Bridge. And then when we rounded the corner onto
Madbury Road. I put my book away in front of Stoke, got off at Sawyer Hall
and walked down to my office in Schofield House feeling all proud and accomplished
for doing what hundreds of people do everyday/have been doing for years.
To that I say better late than never.
The only blip in an otherwise successful first bus trip came when it was time
to take it home. Around 4 o’clock the sky turned black. By 4:15 it was
raining. I’d actually thought to get my umbrella and had stuck it in
my gym bag.
Which was in my car. In the Hannaford parking lot.
So I got soaked walking to the bus stop in front of Hetzel on Main Street.
A small price to pay for the satisfaction of feeling like I’d done something
I should have.
It feels like I’m joining a club. A good club. One with conscientious
people. Is that too much of an assumption? Are there more people taking the
bus simply because they can’t afford the gas rather than because they
want to help save the planet? Or, because they don’t own a car? Or hate
driving? And does the why even matter if the goal set by the Transportation
Policy Committee more than two years ago to have fewer cars on campus is being
Either way, I’m determined to stick with this. Umbrella or no umbrella.
It feels too good not to.