Friday, May 2, 2008

CNI Challenge #5--Take Public Transportation for a Month

Horrors! A bus?? With those kind of people? For most of the American suburban middle and upper class, taking public transportation is, um, distasteful to say the least. We Americans love our cars and to suggest people do without them is akin to anarchy. Granted, public transportation in many areas is sadly lacking compared to other locations around the globe and many large cities in this country, however it could be a workable possibility for many people given the right mindset and proper planning. After not having taken public transportation since I was a teenager (back in the stone age), I recently decided to take a bus to get from one end out our county to the other just as an experiment. Here are some thoughts on the validity of this challenge:
  • Look at the financial impact of taking public transportation. If you lease an expensive car, pay insurance, pay for gas, and pay for regular maintenance, you can easily spend $1000 per month. Cost of a bus pass? $35 a month. Do the math. With a bus pass and selective cab rides, you can save an armload of money each month.
  • We take public transportation in every country we travel to, why not take public transportation here? Except in cases where I need to hire a car and driver, I am perfectly fine taking subways, buses, jeepneys, rickshaws, etc. in foreign countries. A nice thing about our buses? The people don't sit so close together and there are no farm animals riding shotgun.
  • We have a very out of proportion need for automobiles. A big percentage of people around the world can barely afford food yet there are five cars sitting in my driveway for two drivers. Craziness.
  • Taking public transportation makes you think and plan ahead. It makes no sense to take a bus across town for groceries, bus to the other side of town for banking, and ride to another location, miles away, to go to the library. When you switch to public transportation, you will plan your route and plan your errands with more care so as to make each trip count.
  • You get some uninterrupted time to read, listen to music, study, etc. Actually this challenge idea came about because a friend said she took the bus an hour each way to a class she was attending. I couldn't believe it, but when she said she saved hundreds on gas, didn't have to worry about driving through gridlock, and had two hours a day of uninterrupted study time, a light bulb came on in my head. Wow! Great idea!
  • There are some things to consider: what will you do if the bus does not go where you need to go? what will you do about very real safety concerns such as walking to and from your bus stop or problems that may occur with other people on the subway? what if you miss the bus?
  • What will people think???? Will your reputation survive the challenge? Many people are so afraid of what others think of them that they never try anything new; this is really limiting and impedes your personal development on a number of levels. By doing this challenge, you will learn learn how you react to new situations, be given a reason to try something new (tell people you are riding the bus for an online challenge), and you will learn to be more flexible (a definite plus when it comes to survival situations).

Good luck!


  1. One problem is much of the US is not set up for public transportation. In the small towns I have lived in there is usually little or none to be had.

    Also a problem is that food and shopping, government agencies, etc are spread out over a wide area rather than being concentrated and accessible with just one stop.

    Another trend has been to place shopping areas quite far away from the actual population centers of towns so that walking to them is difficult.

  2. Excellent points. Also, if you have bunch of small children, dragging them around the city on the bus or subway would not be a very pleasant experience.
    Hopefully if the need becomes great enough, planners will take a serious look at alternative forms of transportation.

  3. My daughter as a college student in a large city has learned two things from her government education - how to ride a bus, and how to bum infinite rides from her friends - intrastate, interstate, and internationally.

    I guess the lesson here is if you don't have public transportation, the skill is to build solid friendships and trading relationships with people you trust so that when you need a ride you can quickly get one.