Travel Tip Tuesday: Try the bus

bus

As a veteran of yesteryear’s public transit, I have always looked favorably upon arriving at my destination via subway and light rail. The trains are frequent, the service is generally dependable, and a ticket to ride often saves dollars and time when compared to traveling by car.

My experience with the bus? Not as pretty.

The farty road elephants I remember were dependable in only one regard: they were always late. Buses are subject to all the same crap that plagues automobiles: potholes, wrecks, blown transmissions, and of course traffic. I recall day after unsavory day waiting on the RIPTA bus in Rhode Island, shivering in the frigid New England air and praying that the blue, aqua, and yellow-striped beast would finally rumble into view.

Well, ’tis the season for good news, and I have some to share with you today. Bus service, though varied by city and locale, has greatly improved since the pimply days of my high school tenure. Many regions have added dedicated bus lanes and tunnels to their infrastructure, and advancements in technology and equipment are closing the gap between scheduled and actual arrival times.

But best of all, GPS and the SmartPhone are proving a powerful cocktail for the bus patron. Even many small locales are joining the bigger cities in offering apps that show the exact location of the next bus and the satellite-based estimate of when it will be arriving at your stop. That means no more guesswork. No more anger. No more shaking in the cold and cursing the governor.

If you are headed to a region that has not yet implemented decent rail service in its metro area, scoot over to the city’s transit website and poke around for information about a bus tracking app. Chances are it is offered for free and will save you a bundle of cash compared to the alternate car rental or cab fare.

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