“Say hey Mr. Driver man don’t be slow cause I got somewhere I gotta go.”
That one line from The Violent Femmes’ song, Waiting for the Bus, sums up so much of my teenage years and a good chunk of my 20s.
I started taking public transit to get to school in Grade 7. Transit is tied to so many memories and moments from my teenage years – taking the LRT with my dad to watch Edmonton Oilers or Eskimos games; reading books at the downtown library before taking the no. 129 bus home; or venturing out with friends to Whyte Ave., West Edmonton Mall or all-ages shows downtown. More often than not, I was the one running behind the bus arms waving praying the driver would stop and wait.
It’s not the teenage ideal, but my bus pass was part of how I developed my own freedom and independence. For a carless kid growing up in Edmonton’s northern suburbs, that meant a lot.
This is probably why I’ve taken a keen interest over the years as Okotoks, and eventually the Calgary Regional Partnership, worked to bring commuter transit to the Foothills.
It’s finally here, after the On-It Regional Transit project kicked off Tuesday.
It’s something I’ll be watching with great interest even though, I admit, I’m probably not going to use it much. I don’t commute to Calgary and the bus won’t be running in the evening or on weekends, when I’m most likely to make trips to the city.
Still, I hope they get it right and it continues once the two-year pilot project is complete.
I think it’s essential to reduce congestion on roads and more importantly to give people, especially youths and those who don’t own cars, a way to get to and from work, school and anywhere else they may want to go.