01 Mar Leave The Driving To Us
The title above is a slogan from an iconic American brand that seems to have faded away, the Greyhound Lines bus company. Back in the day, most college students I knew (including myself) used Greyhound buses to get from place to place. Buses were inexpensive and served almost every city and college town. While not luxurious by any means, seats were comfortable, the windows large and the bus generally had a working bathroom.
The last person I know who took a Greyhound bus was a dear friend of mine who was at a conference in Florida on September 11th, 2001, and Greyhound was their only option to get home to Chicago for Rosh HaShanah as all airline traffic was grounded for several days. That trip took several days with only short stops for refreshments and restrooms, and it was not an experience he would ever choose to repeat. Today, air travel and better branding by other bus lines have made Greyhound less attractive.
So why did I start thinking of the Greyhound slogan?
One of the most talked-about topics in Israel today is the traffic jams we experience daily. Entering or exiting any of the major metropolitan areas has become a nightmare. I read the other day that during the morning rush hour it can take an hour to get into Beersheba from the suburbs around it. I now regularly hear about traffic delays getting into Jerusalem. Finally, the 3.4 kilometers from the main junction to the entrance to my community, now takes 30 minutes in the evening. This has always been a ride of fewer than 5 minutes.
The current situation seems to be due to three main factors: 1) Growth of Israel’s population – – since 1989 our population has doubled from 4.5 million people to over 9 million people; 2) Dramatic increase of car ownership and finally 3) The lack of sufficient public transportation. In short, unless you are traveling between 11 PM and 6 AM it is going to take you a long time to get from point A to point B.
I have been fortunate to be a car owner since purchasing my Peugeot 104 back in 1979 and have personally experienced how the joy of driving in Israel has vanished. So last week, “I took the bull by the horns”, as my mother used to say, filled up my public transportation pass with my senior citizen discount and decided to “leave the driving to someone else” by taking the bus home from Jerusalem one evening and from Tel Aviv the following day.
Granted, I had a few glitches, like not finding the right bus stop, not putting my public transportation pass in the right place on the bus payment device and knocking into several people with my backpack but I had no problem finding a seat. During the ride, I caught up on some e-mail and was able to read a book that had been gathering dust on my night table. I came home in a much better mood and enjoyed the extra walking to and from the bus.
I plan to take to bus more often, which will take at least one car off the road, save me money and make a small contribution to the environment. I invite my readers to do to same…you might enjoy it as I did.