Bus system is a real gem

07/05/2013 12:00 AM

07/03/2013 5:44 PM

I was recently committed to long-term jury duty downtown. The weather had been pleasant, and it looked as if good weather was predicted for the long term. The city bus passes near my house, about a block away, as it has for years. So, I thought, what a great time to check out the local city bus.

I’ve ridden buses in other major cities – London, New York, Denver, Paris, Mexico City – so why not Wichita?

My first step was to get on the Wichita Transit website. I discovered an eye-catching, user-friendly site. I checked out the Riverside route. Wahoo! I could get to my destination, Central and Main, without a transfer.

Now I’m thinking, “This is going to be easier than I expected.” Next, I checked out the bus stop schedule. Ha – the bus runs every half-hour during rush time, every hour during slow time. I selected the time I wanted to catch the bus.

The next morning I paid extra attention to the time so I wouldn’t miss the bus. I felt uncomfortable, but I reminded myself that any beginning is awkward. I was way out of my comfort zone.

I walked to the bus stop and waited. I listened to the birds sing and enjoyed the stress-free time of “being.” I even returned friendly waves from my neighbors.

The bus arrived on schedule. The driver was professionally attired and very accommodating, and the bus was quite clean – much cleaner than the buses of Paris, London or New York. The overall reception I received was matchless.

I arrived at my destination and took a short walk to the court-house. I noticed how contented I felt. I had just ridden the most scenic bus route in Wichita – Riverside route No. 8. I stared at the Little Arkansas River, watched the ducks and geese, and appreciated the trees and wildflowers. The pleasures were countless. No dealing with traffic jams, incompetent drivers or parking garage hassles. I was free of stress.

The ride home was just as enjoyable. I didn’t have to worry about getting out of the parking garage during rush hour – no need to stop anywhere. I just sat back, read a book and contemplated the beauty outside my bus window. I was able to unwind. I was rested when I arrived home. I no longer needed a half-hour to chill from work and traffic battles.

Although jury duty has ended, I continue to ride the bus. I’m hooked.

I’ve discovered the bus goes by the library, grocery stores and other nearby services. Further, I’ve extended my trips to include a connection. Riding the bus has been such a delight.

Wichita’s bus system is a real gem. Try it, you’ll like it, and leave the antidepressants at home.

DENISE O’LEARY-SIEMER

Wichita

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