The NC State students are back. I, for one, am delighted. Sure, there are longer lines at the grocery and a lot more beer being sold. Sure, there is more traffic. Sure, you have to be more careful about pedestrians. But the good news for me is that the Wolfline bus system is back running at full capacity.
As many of you know, the Council of Churches moved our offices earlier in the year, from the Methodist Building on Glenwood Ave. to West Raleigh Presbyterian Church, just off Hillsborough St. across from the NCSU campus. We are delighted with our new space and with being officed in a church house. The flow of church life, church year, and church people around us is all very affirming and healthy.
The serendipity of it all was that I discovered I could ride the NCSU bus system to work. There’s a bus stop about 15-minutes (walking) from my house. A ten- or twelve-minute ride puts me out a block from West Raleigh Pres. At the end of the day, I have
- walked for at least thirty minutes, something my doctor has been telling me to do for years, but which I never seem to make myself do when I’m just circling the blocks in our neighborhood.
- often read something while on the bus or proofread a document.
- left my car parked at home and not used any gasoline or produced any extra carbon dioxide.
- supported public transportation, though I suspect the Wolfline will survive with or without my patronage.
- almost never waited for more than five or six minutes for my bus.
Did I mention that the ride is free, not only to students, faculty, and staff, but also to people like me, who don’t even always cheer for Wolfpack? What a great gift from the University to the community! Though I don’t see many other “townies” on the bus.
You also get a fascinating view of life on campus. I have discovered that most students travel with ear buds and a music source (so we know they are already losing their hearing) and/or with a Blackberry or Droid or Whatever. Some also come with their own transportation for when they get off the bus. Skateboards are not uncommon. One day a passenger got off with his unicycle, plopped it down, mounted it, and unicycled off to class. I just don’t see that very often in the churches I visit.
What I’ve also discovered is that riding this bus system has made me more aware of public transportation in general. I notice the CAT (city) buses and the TTA (regional) buses, and I no longer mutter when I’m in my car and stuck behind a Wolfline bus. I’ve even noticed other ways I can ride the bus. For example, I regularly attend meetings of the NC Justice Center Board in downtown Raleigh. Parking is always difficult and usually expensive. But I’ve found a CAT bus stop just a couple of blocks from the church. I can get downtown in 10 minutes or so, and the roundtrip ride costs me two dollars, as opposed to eight or more in the city’s parking decks or $20 for not returning to a parking meter in time. The CAT schedule is not quite as user-friendly as the Wolfline’s, but if I pay attention, it works.
My wife has commented that there might be nothing more obnoxious than a recent convert. She was not talking about a religious convert but about my newfound love for public transportation. I guess she’s right.
So, if you live in one of North Carolina’s cities, do you use public transportation? Could you? And do you lobby your local leaders and the state’s for more funding for buses, light rail, and high-speed trains?
If so, good for you. If not, why not?
— George Reed, Executive Director