Thursday, April 17, 2008

I Ride The Bus

Some time ago, I wrote a primer to riding the Metro Area Transit (MAT) bus. While I believed I was offering this advice as a benefit to the community, I was in fact fomenting an attack against good old MAT. At that time, I confess that I didn't have much bus brio. I offered few of its virtues as I skewered most of the experience.

It seems that in the Big 'O, the perception exists among the public that riding the bus is like, well, so proletariat. For example, the other day this guy was telling me about how he's commuting to work by bike to save money and the environment. When I asked him if he's considered riding the bus, he literally burst out laughing and scoffed, "The bus? No way, man. I don't ride that thing."

Poor MAT.

So now I'm turning over a new leaf and am actively promoting the bus as viable alternative to driving to work as a means to save money while reducing impact to the environment.

Since that last posting, I've come to appreciate these items:

1) Buses are to be fitted with Bike Racks. As part of the new Omaha-Council Bluffs pedestrian bridge, money has been ear-marked to retro fit buses with bicycle racks. Sure, you're not likely to drop your $10K Serrotta TT bike off on that rack, but an option for the budget commuter. Suddenly, the bus becomes more publicly accessible with a bonus of some exercise. Good job, MAT!

2) Federal Tax dollars at work. MAT receives federal grants to offset the purchasing of equipment, maintenance and fuel. This past year, they received a grant to purchase new buses. New rigs cost around $250K each. Rather than buying new, the administrators decided to apply the funds toward refurbishing the old. You know, the grand make-over. I can appreciate that after re-making Old Yeller. To this end, MAT had the 1994 series buses stripped down to their frames, fitted with new engines and transmissions, new flooring, seats, glass, and completely remade external paneling. All this for around $80K per bus. Apparently, the Transportation Department was initially hesitant at funding these refurbs, but we're converted after flying a couple of the feds out for a personal tour and ride. Now that's what I'm talking 'bout, MAT!

3) Save money through Park & Ride. For example, parking downtown costs $40 to $120 per month. That's on top of high fuel and maintenance expenses. A year's worth of these savings easily justifies the purchase of new riding gear, equipment or even a new bike. Slap me some skin, MAT!

4) Enjoy the ride and feed a neurosis. Avoid the driving hassle while reading a newspaper, catching up on google reader or feed a new compulsive habit of spotting buses. From what I've been told, there are 171 different buses to see and ride in Omaha alone. And since I started keeping a tab nine months ago, I've ridden only 64 and spotted an additional 21 of that count. With these results, I'm bound to be entertained by this very low grade amusement for years to come.

So there it is. Let it be known that when I'm not running nor cycling to work that I am one satisfied customer of good old MAT.


  1. Do you just use change, or do you go to the stores and buy the 10-ride passes? Michelle uses the 10-ride passes to get from our place at 63rd and Center to Goodwill at 84th and Center. Meanwhile, I ride to work, and the car sits at home. The last time I filled my car the 4th, so 2 weeks ago. And I'm still at half a tank.

    I probably sound really smug everytime I mention my commute, but I don't mean to be. I'm just really appreciative of my current situation. I hope anyone looking for a new place to live would consider mid-town. Sure the houses are more expensive, but if you factor in the traveling costs of living way out West/North/South in a cheap development house, I think it would even out a bit.

    Oh yeah, Brady, you need to post what your plans are this weekend so we can set a Saturday schedule if need be. Sunday is decided, but Saturday is still up in the air. Let us know what's up.

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  3. longest. bus ride. ever.

    though this post really is likeable.