week without a car: day one

Photo By Eric Allix Rogers used under Creative Commons

For reasons that partly involve a temperamental Volvo that doesn’t feel like moving from its parking space, I am bussing and walking and el-ing everywhere I go for the next week or so.


I rode the bus today! I also told everyone I knew that I would be doing so, and I figured it was only fair to let you in on my fun, too.

Minus today, the last time I sat my behind on an autobus was during Snowmageddon and I hadn’t done so on a regular basis since riding the safaris of St. Thomas. Here are my initial mundane observations on the CTA.

Air Climate
As you know, I am not a big fan of A/C, and when the temperature reaches 75 in Chicago, you are blasted with arctic air at every turn. From my office to Trader Joe’s to the movie theatre, everywhere is freezing cold. Not so on my bus ride. It was around 80 when I boarded for my first ride and the bus felt very comfortable. Yay!

Falling Down
I almost fell. Twice. Since the buses are loaded with folks I end up standing for most of my rides and I think I will have very strong arm muscles when this is all over.

No Ads
One thing I despise even more than air conditioning is audible advertisements at every freaking turn. At O’Hare over the weekend, while waiting for Papo in the terminal as he arrived home from India, The Mister and I were accosted by CNN or some derivative at 5am. The volume was on high and I wanted to cry. Milwaukee’s buses featured very loud and obnoxious ads for a time and I was happy to see that Chicago didn’t follow suit. It has been a pleasant audible experience minus the guy telling everyone within earshot that the baby wasn’t his. Kudos?

Smelling Good
There are a lot of weird smells on the bus. I am never as close to other human beings as I have been on my bus rides. I am glad I do not smell bad. I mean, I don’t think I smell bad. You would tell me if I did, right? Also, gum. I am glad I have remembered to bring gum.

Someone Asked Me A Question
This was a very exciting highlight. A very stylish and hip lady sitting across from me asked if we had passed Damen Avenue yet. “Duh, lady, we are only to Ashland,” is what the smug, newly minted bus rider in me wanted to say but I just smiled and shook my head. Then I told her exactly what landmarks to look for upon approaching Damen. I’m a pro.

So far so good. I might even do this all the time! Let’s see how days two and three and four go. Do you use public transportation to get to work? Or to get everywhere? What are your pros and cons? Got any tips?

[I wrote this yesterday but it didn’t post and I didn’t notice! So I am really on Day 2 but I will have to fill you in on that later. Let’s just say it involves a $22 twelve pack of Pilsner Urquell and sore feet.]


14 responses to “week without a car: day one

  1. i’m always surprised to discover Chicagoans who don’t frequent public transportation! especially a (former 😦 ) ready-mader!! can i ask why you don’t?

    • Yes, of course! The short answer: we own a paid off car from our California days and I am a sucker for convenience. There are all kinds of nuances in there that involve the non-working car and I plan to address them in my next post. I’m rethinking my use of the car a lot right now; the rest of the time is spent planning on how I will accomplish all I need to this weekend without one. It’s an interesting ride!

  2. I love taking the bus, we used to always do it as kids because my mom didn’t drive. Unfortunately now I live in a rural area and have a 30 mile commute to work – the bus just doesn’t work it would take hours. But I still love it and take it downtown sometimes just for fun, to go to the museum and not have to pay for parking.

    • Yes! I’m excited to head downtown tomorrow without the added headache of parking– and I would have driven if not for this experiment. From now on, bussing it is the way to go when I head into the Loop. We also took buses as kids– two city buses to get home in fact, while wearing Catholic school uniforms. I must have blocked out that trauma until now πŸ™‚

  3. I and Mother Nature are so proud of your bus adventure! The city will never again look the same. There will be encounters that try your soul. There will be moments of great beauty and even some kind of love. All good stuff for your becoming!

  4. Linda Lacy-Hodge

    Godd Mornin’ Megan
    I am not a bus rider. When the first VITran Bus arrived on St. Croix about 14 years ago, I took my son, Nathaniel and his little friend Kayla on a bus ride from Frederiksted to Christiansted. We got off the bus in Christiansted, had pizza at Pizza Hut and got back on the bus and went home. That was my last bus experience. The Taxi Vans are too dangerous to ran as they let you out in the traffic and the cars are just zooming past.

    Other Mommy

    • Hi Other Mommy! Yes, I remember VITran– I never rode the actual bus since I could never tell when it was going to show up. My first six months on St Thomas were without a car and I took the safari (it still cost $1 then) to and from work and to the market and such. I rent a car when we visit now as it doesn’t go all of the places I like to visit.

  5. Jacksonville, Florida has a very convoluted and uncomfortable public transportation situation. Being the largest city land-wise in the US, having a car feels pretty essential. When I visited my friend in Philly for a couple of days I was impressed by their public transportation! If we had a good system, I’d use it all the time!

    Let us know how your experiment goes! I’d get lost. I get lost easily.

    • Haven’t gotten lost so far! I do have to say that I am impressed with how often the bus I take runs. I haven’t waited longer than two minutes, but I also travel during peak commuting times. People complain a lot about Chicago’s public transit but so far, so good!

  6. i live in Portland, OR, where it’s pretty easy to get by without a car (kinda like Chicago.)Normally, I take the train and my bike to work, but I really love riding the bus! I lived in Dallas, TX for three years without a car and I got everywhere on buses and trains. It’s not something I admit often, because most people think it’s weird – but you get to see such a different view of the city. And I find that once I get used to riding the bus, I do a lot more walking than I normally would.

  7. Pingback: week without a car: days two-four | urban casita

  8. Pingback: week without a car: days two and three | urban casita

  9. Wow I can’t believe you were using your car every day! How do you find affordable parking in the loop? I ride the bus/el every day and while it can get crowded and annoying (especially during sports games and certain festivals) it does save on gas and parking money.

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