Sunday, September 11, 2011

Appreciating an Underdog

by Betsy Harvey, MCRP '12

I for one am glad to not be taking Rutgers buses to and from class and work anymore. Last year, in the winter or the pouring rain, when I couldn’t muster the courage to bike, I boarded the bus from my stop on Douglass Campus. The digital displays saying when the next bus would arrive could be between 5 and 15 minutes from what the Rutgers website said, a real problem when class started in 20 minutes. People threw up on the bus on weekend nights. And I quickly learned that using the bus between 4:00 pm and 7:00 pm would mean that the ride would take twice as long. There were times when it would have been quicker for me to walk home. The supposed convenience factor was clearly lacking.

Buses get a bad rap. As the Rutgers bus system often proves, they get you where you want to go, but not necessarily when they say they will or when you need to be there, and certainly not in style. I avoid them if I can afford to. And yet they are vital to many people’s ability to get to work or to the store or to visit friends. For those who cannot afford a car - or who choose not to have one - buses provide essential mobility. As I wrote in an earlier post, mobility is vital to a health economy. It is well worth the investment.

So while I am pleased to be able to walk the ten minutes to school this year instead of taking a half-hour to wait for and ride the bus, I won’t underestimate the importance of affordable bus service. Without it, there would be a serious drain on our already ailing economy and set struggling families back further.

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