Riding the bus has become second nature to me since I moved away from the “T.” I save money on my daily commute by taking public transit, and I have time for checking emails, reading a book, listening to music, or chatting with a neighbor. While I enjoy starting my morning on the bus, I do realize it can be daunting for first timers. Here are some helpful tips to get started:
Know your bus routes and schedules. Whether you’re a devoted user of Google Maps, Apple Maps, or real time bus tracker apps, it’s definitely helpful to follow any changes that will impact your route. Furthermore, if you’re running early or late, it’s great to have the peace of mind to know how much time you’ll be waiting. Familiarizing yourself with your route – where to get off, where you’re ultimately going – can also help make your trip run smoothly.
Know your fares and when to pay them. The state’s various Regional Transit Authorities charge different fares. If you’re a regular bus user, a pre-paid pass may save you money. Otherwise, you can plan to pay with exact change as you board the bus since the fare systems are not designed to accept credit or debit cards. Some buses require that riders pay upon boarding, while others wait until passengers are getting off. If you are unsure, the bus driver can tell you when and where you should pay.
Signal when you need to exit. While each route differs, you need to alert the driver when you need to exit the bus. Some buses come equipped with a yellow strip against the wall to push, some have buttons on the metal poles, and still others have a wire that you pull from the top. If your indicator is not working, or if you are unsure of where your stop is, it’s okay to tell the driver that you need the next stop. If you are unsure of where exactly you need to get off, it’s helpful to tell the driver upon boarding so he or she can alert you.
Plan for the weather. Until I started my daily commute via bus, I never realized how many different seasons there really are. There’s Winter, and then there’s the standing outside as it snows Winter. There’s Summer, and then… well, you get the picture! It’s a good idea to dress in layers during the cooler months, but keep in mind that if the weather is bad, your bus may be delayed due to that along with increased traffic congestion. Planning for the weather (and checking the real-time bus updates) could save you some chilly or unpleasantly hot additional minutes.
Bring your bike (if you want). Looking to make your bus trip multi-modal with a bike ride? Many of the Commonwealth’s buses are equipped with a front-loading bike rack for this option. If your local transit authority offers this, just attach your bike to the bike rack on the front of the bus. Check out the MBTA or your local RTA website for instructions. Keep in mind that each region may differ slightly in the types of racks they use.
There are a plethora of transit options that can help you get to and from work in an eco-friendly and cost-effective manner—the bus being a great example of one of them. We hope these tips will help get your bus commute started and before you know it, you’ll be an expert too!