Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bus vs Bike

It's been a while now that I wanted to try Cape Town's new MyCiti IRT for commuting to work. I was thinking that on really wet days it might be a good alternative for the bike seeing that getting stuck in traffic with a car on a rainy day in Cape Town traffic is something you prefer to avoid at all costs. I had to wait for an actual day with a rain forecast because until now I just could not get myself to leave the bike at home while the sun was shining outside. Well, today rain was predicted and I decided to give it a go. Armed with an umbrella and my MyCiti bus card I hitched a ride with my neighbour to the main bus stop in Tableview. If he was not around I would've had to walk about 10 minutes to the closest bus stop, get a feeder bus to Tableview and that would've taken 20 minutes at least. So I scored on some time and effort here.

I am not really that unfamiliar with riding bus. I frequently have to take the bus from the terminals at the airport to the plane. So how much different could this be? I first had to pay to get sufficient funds on my card. The bus card is also a debit card and you cannot ride without one. No cash any more. Fortunately the card I had, but the PIN number eluded me for a moment and with anxious passengers behind me in line I had to try all the PIN numbers I had stored in my brain somewhere. Fortunately for me the first one worked and the sun came out at the same time. It seemed like it was going to be a good day after all. There was still time to turn around and go get the bike now with the sun out, but I was not backing out now. 

Last 10 min walk to my office
We left the house at 7 and got on the bus at 7:30. We were last in line but because of my PIN issue we missed the first bus and was first in the line for the next one. This meant that we could get seats. I like riding bus while standing, it is like surfing or skateboarding on a bigger scale, but the ride was about to last 35 minutes to town and sitting would just make it easier to at least have a conversation with my buddy. I guess it can get boring with no-one to talk to all the way. The people look better than the ones I saw on the Metro in Prague, but no-one was talking much, except for this girl behind me who was explaining events from the Bible to her friend like she was there when Jesus walked on the water. My buddy and I talked about kite surfing, RC helicopters, various gadgets, travelling and the normal stuff guys talk about. Time passed quickly and soon I had to change buses at the Civic Centre. My next bus would be the Waterfront feeder bus with the second stop being the one where I need to get off. Transferring were easier than at Schipol Airport and soon I was on my second leg. I arrived at my stop at 8:20 and was left with another 10 minute walk to get to the office. I arrived at 8:30.

So, what's the verdict, bike or bus? Time wise, the bike is better, 20 mins compared to 90 mins. Money wise, if you have a bike already it works out more or less the same, approximately R25 a day. Comfort wise, I think walking in the rain for 20 minutes might be just as bad a riding in the rain for 20 mins. Definitely safer to take the bus but with no excitement and adrenalin I would prefer to be on a bike. The worst of it all is that I am in town now with NO transport, and if I want to get back home in a rush, then I have to prepare myself for another 90 minutes before I get home, even more if I have to wait for buses and if I add the last walk to my house. Unless you can sit on the bus and meditate or answer emails, I cannot see how anyone can waste 3 hours a day on just commuting. Life is too short for that. 

The sun is shining at the moment and I am probably the only one with an umbrella today, but at least now I know what it's like and no-one can accuse me of not trying. In future I will however stick to the bike, thank you.

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