Thursday, March 23, 2006

No Brake - No Jam

Since the past ten weeks I have been enduring an unusually heavy traffic driving to and fro my workplace in Houston's central business district. Houstonians love to drive: with wide roads and expansive highway network Houston can rightly be called a city of highways.However, beneath all the traffic and the associated noise and environmental pollution is a often neglected public transport system. Cars are cheap here- you can get a used Japs for less than 2 thousand buck and an American jalopy for about five hundred buck. So why bother? But after going through this stress for ten solid weeks I finally decided to try what is more convenient- take the bus baby!

This is my first full week of taking the Metro Bus using the Park and Ride system that allows me to drive five minutes (from home) to a parking station from where I take the bus to work and back using the high Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane which facilitates quicker access endless traffic. Normally, I drive 40 mins to work and 1 hr 10 mins back(Total: 110 mins). Indeed, today it is 45 mins to work and 50 mins back; plus 10 mins (making 105 mins) as the handover time from the station to my house I figured out I saved couple of minutes. And then that is not real time. Since I can do what the heck I want to do while on the bus (like sleep or read) and not suffer the fatigue and hypertensive pressure of driving- this makes it an even greater plus. Indeed, I don't have to put up with Houston drivers anymore- a breed of drivers I think require psychological examination plus driving test. And add this- I save on gas and car maintenance: it costs me approximately 30 dollars weekly, plus $12 weekly toll road expenses-now $20 will just do for the whole week. I feel good about this new way of getting to work.

The Bus drivers are very polite, the system buses are very clean and well kept but heck I miss something. One observation though, most if not all of the drivers are African Americans; it appears to me that the Whites prefer to drive the school buses a sector they seem to dominate in Houston- excuse my stereotypes. In any case, I miss the noise inside naija danfos (Hiace buses) and the crankiness of the bus driver/conductor. Everyone is proper here-no smoke, food or radios. But is all good-Houston indeed is the home of the playas and pimps. I hope my parked car helps preserve the clean air of this great city and reduces my insurance: Heck, it is America and I am always trying to save on something; much like the good people of Richmond Avenue/rd are trying to save their neighbourhood (see last picture in album) through which the next phase of Metro Rail will pass. They are trying to save it from metro riders like me: talk about one man's meat is another man's poison.


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