My Ride's Here: Taking the G Bus Home
When I bought my house in Stormstown back in 2004, there was no public transportation out in the country. It meant that I had to drive everywhere myself, which is a thing that country people take for granted they will have to do.
But I was very pleased, a few years into things, when public transportation became available. The local Catabus people set up bus stops here and there, the closest within just a few-minutes' walk of my driveway. How convenient!
I didn't take the bus a lot at first. For one thing, the route meandered, and it took more than twice my normal driving time to ride the bus to work. But what it really meant was this: I had the assurance that if, for any reason, I couldn't make it to work on my own steam, I could ride the G bus. What a happy thought!
I have myself made many a snowy and icy drive; who hasn't? But I can't tell you how many winter nights I went to bed with my head resting easier on my pillow, because I knew that that if the weather was too rough for me to drive to work in the morning, I could always take the bus.
The bus is also always a nice back-up plan for those of us with car troubles, which I've occasionally had. My Mazda's brakes went a few weeks ago, and it had some major suspension issues a few years back. Want to know a really nice option when you're without your main set of wheels? Riding the bus!
On Sunday afternoon, a 60-foot maple toppled into our yard, felled by some of the most amazing storm winds I may have ever seen. The tree missed the house and cars, but it took out all the lines: power, phone, Internet. There was a cable blocking the garage; no car could go in or out. And the driveway was littered with tree debris. So guess what I did on Monday and Tuesday: yes, I rode the bus!
There is a problem, though, and it is this: the ridership from way out here is not very heavy. In fact, while we do pick up quite a few more people in town, only a few of us from Stormstown actually ride the bus.
The bus goes into town twice each morning and it used to go out once at lunchtime and twice at the work day's end. But about a week ago, they got rid of the noon-time bus because of lack of ridership.
And now there is even a much more alarming rumor going around, shared by those who seem to be "in the know." The bad news is this: within the coming year, they will probably be eliminating the Stormstown stops for the G bus. (Believe me when I tell you this: providing and maintaining convenient, affordable, and dependable transportation in rural areas is an ACCESS problem.)
There are two sisters who ride the bus to work in town almost every day. Like me, they were alarmed by the recent rumors. On weekends, there is no bus service for us, and the cost to take a taxi in to town for work is $25 one way (in stark comparison with a $2 one-way bus fare). For folks who have no car at all, or for whom money is limited, or for those who are elderly or disabled, the bus is a god-send.
For myself, I have a little secret, but I admit I have not been keeping it very well. Some time in the coming year - and no, I haven't decided a date yet - I will most likely be retiring from Penn State (for ALL good things - even the very best of times - must eventually come to an end), and so then I will no longer need to ride the bus.
But here I am, and that day has not come yet. On Thursday morning, my husband dropped me off at work, and late in the afternoon, I took the G bus home. I waited until I was the only rider on it, and as the bus turned and came down the road we live on, I snapped a photo or two.
You may see one of them above. Out the windows, there is nothing but green farm fields and cows. In five minutes, I'll be home. And yes, oh lordy, yes: I have been so grateful for this bus!
The soundtrack song is this one, which I have adored since the moment I first heard it. The song was written by a master, and performed by another. It was Warren Zevon's song, but in this instance, Bruce Springsteen sings it in honor of his friend's passing: My Ride's Here.
The Endless G-Bus Ride Into the White
CATA Announces Expanded Holiday Service
View Out the Bus Window
. . . And an Even Colder Dawn
Farewell to the Dancing Girl