I started riding BATA’s Bayline bus route recently, and I’m hooked! I love it, and I think you may too.
After a year plus of working from home and spotty internet at my new house, I needed a change of scenery and started going into the downtown office a couple of times a week.
I was loving the summer energy of Traverse City but not the summer driving. The decision to try out the Bayline came when I was stuck in late afternoon traffic on Division heading south back to Kingsley. The voice in my head said, “you’re not stuck in traffic, you are traffic.”
I looked around and thought about how I didn’t have to be here on this street in my car, that I could be on the bus, reading or looking up dinner recipes. Looking around at my fellow traffic companions, I started wondering who else in this mash-up could also switch to the bus?
Once back home I hopped onto BATA’s website to check out my transit options. Living near Kingsley, I looked into that bus line first. In the morning I’d have the possibility of departing at 6:30 am or 8:30 am. The first time honestly was way too early for me to be fully ready and out the door, especially after more than a year of working from home where my morning routine has become quite relaxed. 8:30 a.m., however, felt very achievable, and while it was later than I preferred, I figured I could work from the bus, checking and sending emails on my way in.
Being new to the bus system though, I thought it could be good to start with something a bit more flexible like the Bayline and work my way up to the Kingsley route.
The next morning my plan was in place. I was going to drive as always, but end my journey at the Meijer park-n-ride and then take the shuttle bus into downtown—getting off at a corner right by my office. I decided to leave about 20 minutes early to account for any delays, but there weren’t any, so I ended up at the office about 20 minutes early. The bus didn’t add much extra time to my commute after all.
I think many of us assume that taking the bus will just slow us down. But from my experience over the past couple of months, I haven’t found that to be true.
And even if the bus was a smidge longer, a few extra minutes is fine with me because taking the bus has become one of the best parts of my day. Seeing some of the same people over and over makes me feel more connected to the community, and the bus gives Traverse City a fun city vibe. I even find waiting for the bus enjoyable. On a bright morning, the sun is rejuvenating, and on a misty morning, the scene is calming. Watching the fog roll off the hills really sets the day off right.
I like that I no longer have to pay for parking downtown, saving money for the important things, like coffee and lunch! I like that the absence of my car allows someone else to claim a parking space that needs it more than I do. But most of all, I love knowing that having one less car downtown makes the city a quieter more enjoyable place to be.
And I get it, for some schedules and life demands, the bus may not work as well. But for those like me, someone with a fairly flexible work environment, no kids to pick up, or dogs to rush home to, it works. I can’t be the only one out there, I’m pretty confident that there are others (maybe you!) reading this right now who could switch up their daily routine a bit. Even if it’s just every so often, opting for the bus is an easy way to make a small but powerful investment in our community.
And now that I’m feeling like an experienced bus rider, I believe I’m ready to take on Bata’s Kingsley Village Loop.
Carolyn Ulstad is Groundwork’s Transportation Program Manager. [email protected]