Thursday, December 15, 2005

Another one rides the bus

It wasn't that big a deal, since I've ridden MTA (and formerly RTD) buses plenty of times in the past, but I did make my maiden Orange Line journey last night. The bus neither struck nor was stricken (is that proper verb conjugation?) by other vehicles, and our driver, whose voice announcing the stops could've been way louder, duitifully slowed down at all intersections.

I hoofed it out of the Daily News about five minutes after 6 o'clock and got to the "transit hub" across from the Promenade mall on Owensmouth Avenue at about 6:15. The bus was idling about 30 yards from the stop, and the lighted signs said it would leave at 6:22 p.m. I bought my ticket from the fancy electronic kiosk with an MTA token, and the bus pulled up right on schedule.

Suprisingly, I was joined by about 20 other people (this is NOT the portion of the day when buses arrive every 5 minutes, but it damn well should be). More people got on with every stop, and it was soon standing room only. And hot. They had the heat cranked up to 79 degrees.

Yes, I carry a thermometer with me at all times. What's it to you?

I couldn't see much -- it was dark outside, and the lights inside the bus make it hard to see out. I sat in one of the "high" seats, about 10 feet ahead of the "bend" in the accordion-style bus. If I looked at the moving floor too long, I started to get bus-sick. So obviously no reading or looking at the floor for me on the Orange Line.

The trip was uneventful. As said before, the driver did call out the stops -- essential at night, because you really can't see much, and the busway is at many points off the beaten (or auto-driven) path.

We arrived at the Van Nuys stop about 6:50 p.m. Not bad, but I wish I could have caught an earlier bus. There were transit cops at the station checking tickets, so anybody who thinks they can get away with not paying, think again.

Then came the choice, should I wait for a bus on Van Nuys, or walk the rest of the way? I hadn't bought a transfer but still had another token. I chose walking, and a good thing, too, because three buses passed me going the wrong way -- and none going the right way. You get to see the neighborhood, too. I witnessed one guy yelling at somebody on a cell phone outside a stretch of storefronts and couldn't help noticing the strong marijuana smell coming from an apartment building.

So I got a brisk walk in on both ends and arrived home about 7 p.m., just in time to feed the kid her nighttime snacks and read her the customary eight books before bed.

Back to the bus: I couldn't figure out where the supposed on-bus bike racks were, and it was so crowded, I wouldn't recommend traveling with a bike anyway.

After dinner, I went to Auto Zone, bought a gas can, filled it up across the street, came home, walked the gas to my car, figured out how the gas can worked and poured the 2 gallons into the Focus. It started, and I drove to the gas station to fill up the rest of the way. Back in the solo-driving business.

Will I ride the Orange Line again. Probably will. Check back with me.

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