Yesterday morning I decided to catch a Bayhopper bus from Maunganui Road to The Strand. I used to work in a medical laboratory in Newtown, Wellington, and daily commuted from Silverstream, Upper Hutt by train into the city, then bus out to Newtown, taking a total of about 90 minutes in the morning and again at night.
I remember it was a great time to write, read and study. I’d walk out the door in the dark in the morning and return again at night, living mostly on crockpot meals.
The earliest Bayhopper leaving from Adams Ave was due to come by my stop at 7.10am so not wanting to suffer from FOMO – fear of missing out- and in this case missing the bus, I made sure I was there ready with my coins by 7am. I had forgotten an umbrella but dodged the rain shower, wiped the wet off the seat and sat down and waited.
Friends were wandering back from the local coffee shop and laughed as they’d seen my recent ardent efforts at promoting public transport. I explained my car was getting rust removed, one of the downsides of living near the sea.
The bus arrived, right on time, the doors opened, I greeted the driver and handed over my $3.40. If I’d bought a Smartride card for $10 from the driver, then my ride today would have dropped to $2.72. I was on Route 1, which had left Pyes Pa at 6.15am and runs to Greerton, then the city then Mount Maunganui and returns.
I was at the first stop, with only a couple of other people already on board, so picked a seat near the front as I was already experiencing ‘wrong-bus-stop-phobia’ or the fear of getting off at the wrong stop and having to walk a few kilometres.
Just as an aside, the whole catching the bus process can be a big deal. Yes, yes first world problems. I sometimes feel like I need to practice the journey just to get used to which bus to catch, where it goes, and where it stops. Wait for bus to stop. Wonder if it’s coming. Check timetable. Get on. Pay. Sit. Move over to allow someone else to squeeze in. Push stop button at right place. Try to stand up while it’s still slowing down just in case the driver doesn’t see me and takes off again. Get off at stop. Remember to say thank you to driver.
We headed along Maunganui Road, and passed the coffee shop where I could see some of my friends hanging out. The sun was coming up and there was very little traffic ahead. We picked up people from most of the stops along the way, and by the time we reached Hewletts Road the bus was nearly full.
A woman embarked partway along Hewletts Road and sat down next to me. Talking with her I discovered she’d only been taking the bus for a month.
While she talked, I found that we were sailing along in the bus lane passing a slow snake of cars and trucks.
“Why did you switch from car to bus?” I asked, although I had a fair idea of what her reason would be. She still surprised me with her reply though.
“I used to drive my car from Hewletts Road. It cost around $50 a month just for the petrol, it’s a big car. And then if I couldn’t find free parking in town it would cost me more.
“About a month ago I was sitting in traffic and saw the bus go by in the inner bus lane, so I decided to catch it. That was a month ago. It only costs me $27 a month to bus, and I don’t have to find parking in town.”
She grinned, clearly pleased with herself for making this stunning adjustment to her life.
In reality it isn’t altogether convenient for me to bus daily, as I usually start heading to the beach about 6am to catch sunrise, and then am off driving all around Tauranga Moana, with every day being different. Today though, I haven’t had to be concerned about parking and that’s a plus. Now I’ve just got to figure out which bus stop is closest to my panel beater so I can get home.