Flash Mob Food (non) Drive next Monday

The Columbus Social Media Cafe and your local bloggers invite you to join us for the first ever Flash Mob Food (non)Drive for the Mid-Ohio Food Bank on Monday July 28th. Bring non-perishable food items to donate and have fun doing it.
Here’s how it works:

Everyone participating will board the COTA route #3 either at Broad and High departing at 5:57p (same side of the street as the State House) or along it’s route to Lane Avenue.

When we arrive at Lane Avenue, we’ll box up our donations and enjoy the company of others at Caribou Coffee, Graeters Ice Cream as well as the other merchants at The Shops on Lane Avenue.

The goal is multifaceted.  We’ll lend a hand to our local food bank because there is a great local need.  We’ll demonstrate the power of our local social media.  We’ll demonstrate how easy it is to use public transportation to access good shopping.  We’ll demonstrate how public transportation benefits local business and we’ll have fun doing it.

COTA route 3 departs (Northwest Boulevard) on-time from Broad and High at 5:57p and arrives at Lane Avenue at 6:22.  Join us anywhere along the route, which you can find at this link.  Bus fare is $1.50 each way and exact change is required.  If you’re commuting by bus to work that day purchase, a day pass (from the driver) for $3.50 and you can use it for the entire day.


COTA Challenge Cost Estimate

Thanks to Walker and Cap City Savvy for the great information regarding the cost of a commute. According to the calculator, my monthly cost of commuting by car is about $180 when gas costs about $4. Makes that $45 bus pass look pretty good, even when I add the $55 of cost from driving the 4 miles round trip to the bus stop. Half! I cut our costs in half!

That said, I had my boyfriend take me to work today. I wanted to sleep in and missed the bus. 😦 Bad Zanne. I’m riding the bus home, though.

COTA Causes Creative Thinking

Statehouse Reflection #2

Originally uploaded by TimPerdue

I continue to take the COTA Challenge. I rode to and from work yesterday and am doing so today, plus the rest of the week. I’m finding that riding the bus in my situation has caused me to have to do some critical thinking and problem-solving.

For example, I share my car with my boyfriend, Grey. He usually works shorter days than me — he’s a waiter at Mad Mex in the South Campus Gateway. We also live at least a half mile from the nearest bus stop — with a walk that has no sidewalks and crossing a dangerous 4-lane, 45-MPH road. Soooo, we’ve developed this pattern: He takes me to the main bus stop and goes home to get ready to work. (4 miles total) When he goes to work, he drives to the bus stop and leaves the car in Giant Eagle parking lot. (2 miles) When he gets off work, he drives home and waits for time to pick me up OR he stops at the library and gets to the car and waits for me, depending on when he gets off work. (sometimes 2 miles) He takes me home from the bus stop (2 miles).

This works fine when he works day shift. Night shift has created a challenge, because my car has only one key and keyless remote. To get a second key will cost $35 (the key has a chip in it). Another keyless remote would cost about $50. We’re not getting a second key nor a remote at this time. So, how could we share the car if he goes to work and doesn’t get off until late? Our solution so far has been he takes me to work and goes home (13 miles), he drives to my work (6.5 miles) and I take him over to his workplace and go back to work (4 miles). I drive home after I get off work (6.5 miles) and then go get him when he’s done later that night (11 miles). That’s a whopping 41 miles!

I finally figured out a solution. It hopefully will work tonight. This morning, Grey took me to the bus stop (2 miles) and went home (2 miles). He drives to bus stop and parks, leaving the key only in the car, locking the doors using the automatic locks. I ride bus to stop, use the keyless remote to open the doors, retrieve the key, and take the car home (4 miles). I pick him up from work later that night (buses don’t run at that point) (11 miles).

One down side to this method is that using they key to open the doors of my car sets off a security alarm (short beeps of the horn) until the key is inserted in the ignition. This is a bother for Grey, but doesn’t affect me at all! hee hee I worried that some hidden security feature might prevent us from leaving the key in the car or separating it from the remote, but we ran a few highly scientific tests last night. (We ran the routine with the windows of the car rolled down in case alarms went off or it otherwise freaked out.) All seems well.

Leaving the key in the car may seem a little risky. However, this is why we park it in the very busy parking lot at the bus stop that is 2 miles away, rather than the one .5 miles away which is secluded and has almost no traffic. Crime is also low in the area where we leave the car. Finally, if someone breaks into the car and the key isn’t in there, they still have ways of starting it if they really want to (though I think starting it without the key with the chip causes it to eventually shut down). Either way, because the key does have a chip, it acts like some sort of lojack and would help us retrieve the car.

A side note on the “hidden benefits” of bus riding. I had a lovely conversation the other day while sitting on the low wall that surrounds the Statehouse. A woman and I struck up a conversation as we sat, facing east toward the older Huntington building. She pointed out that she loves to sit there every day just to admire the gorgeous ornate door on the building. It has beautiful brass carvings and is quite breathtaking. This image doesn’t quite do it justice, but I thank the photographer for having it on Flickr! There is much to see and appreciate in downtown Columbus!

Issues with COTA

Mobile post sent by suzannewiles using Utterz Replies.  mp3

I would also like to add that another reason the bus could have been late the other day was that it could have broken down. This happens a lot, according to the frequent riders I’ve talked to. I wonder if it would be possible to make that information available on the COTA information number. I called it and went through a series of menus, but could not get any information about the location of my bus at that time. I know the buses are GPS-connected because you can track them online. This, however, isn’t useful to those without a blackberry. So, could it be connected to an automated phone system? I don’t know the costs nor the logistics of this, just sayin. 🙂

Second Bus Ride

Walker is doing a much better job of writing about the COTA Challenge than I am. I’m going to imitate him and give better detail about my second bus ride, since I’m not freezing, wet, and miserable following this one.

First of all, I must agree that it gets easier every time I ride the bus. I didn’t feel a low level of panic like I did the first day, when my head was filled with chatter: “Is this the right bus?” “What if they changed the route and didn’t update the schedule yet?” “What if I end up in Clintonville? I only have one more dollar!” “Did I forget my shoes? Oh, man. I forgot my shoes. Now I must wear tennis shoes all day!” Anyway.

Grey dropped me off at the bus stop. I was in no mood to walk a half mile this morning. I arrived at the stop about 1 minute before the bus. I must learn to get up earlier.

When I got on the bus today, I was very proud that I knew where to put my coins and my dollar bill as I asked the driver for a transfer. And, when I transferred, I asked to make sure, but really knew which slot took my transfer card. Once you do this stuff once, you feel less like a dork newbie.

My first bus going to work is the 5, which travels at pretty frequent intervals — every half hour or so. The trick is timing the 5 so that I don’t have to wait very long for the 18, which only shows up once per hour. I caught the 5 at 5th & Grandview at about 7:30 a.m. This got me to 5th & Neil at about 7:35, where the 18 would show up at about 8:10. If I’d taken the 5 at the next time point, I’d have missed the 18.

I had about a half hour to wait for the 18, which is the minimum wait I can achieve when transferring from the 5. I decided to walk south on Neil and get a look at the other stops, since the one I land at has no cover and a broken bench, which isn’t exactly comfortable in the rain. Walking also gave me a way to stay warmer on this very brisk, but sunny, morning. In hindsight, I know I could have easily walked to the Giant Eagle, but I was afraid I’d miss the bus in the middle of the stops, so I walked to Neil & 2nd. None of the stops on the northbound side of the street has cover, though I’m betting the one at the Giant Eagle does.

A timing note: Grey talked me into transferring at 5th and Neil. However, if I take the 5 to Broad & High, I could time it to only wait 10 minutes for the 18. My rides are longer, but my wait is less. I’m going to start doing this, because I’d rather spend my time sitting on the bus, reading a book.

I caught the 18, along with several chatty OSU students, right on time. The ride to my workplace, the Fawcett Center, is about 15 minutes or so. Then, I took a beautiful walk through the Cancer Survivors Pavilion located near the OSU Alumni Center. There are sculptures and inspirational plaques in this lovely park. I was sorry to see that some of the plaques have been ripped off. I hope that OSU can quickly spruce this park up, because it really is a treat.

I arrived to work in just over an hour, and got some walking in.

I think I’m taking the bus again tomorrow morning, and I plan to transfer at Broad & High. This scares me a little, since I’ve not been there before and I know that every bus transfers there. It ought to be fun.

It is about 13 miles round trip from home to work. Grey only had to drive the car 1 mile to take me to the bus stop. I estimate the cost of driving round trip to be $1.80. There is little savings when I pay $1.50 for a transfer. I will need to take at least 30 trips in a month to begin to save with a monthly bus pass. This is, of course, fuel savings only, and doesn’t figure maintenance.

If I use the .505 standard mileage rate from the IRS, I get a different picture of the savings. I rack up $6.57 for each round trip home-to-work. This makes the savings of using the bus much more appealing, even if I paid outright for a transfer each time.

I’ll continue to share my riding adventures, as well as my financial picture.

I made it, though a bit late

Well, I made it to work on the bus. I am happy about this, as I feel like I know somewhat how to negotiate the system. I’ve been delayed quite a bit since my first attempt a couple of weeks ago. My neck and arm injury were too sensitive to even consider trying to learn how to ride the bus to work. I’m feeling a bit better now.

The experience on the bus was fine, except that I had left my schedules at work and guessed, which meant I watched my second (transfer) bus drive away as I got off the first one. I waited an hour in the rain for another one. That was a bummer. Live and learn.

With schedules in hand, I should do much better going home. Hopefully the rain will have tapered off by then.

The Bus was a Bust

How does a woman with a master’s degree have so much problem understanding how to ride the bus???

I missed the bus today. I saw it, I even could have waved at it, had I not been holding an umbrella and two bags. *sigh* But I missed it.

I left home late because of my continuing neck and shoulder problem which is currently causing constant pain and numbness in my arm. Anyway, I didn’t look carefully enough at the bus schedule, which clearly shows that I have to catch the bus one stop away, unless I am there for one of the early rides. It was pouring rain in a semi-horizontal way. But I was determined to ride the bus. I was crushed when I watched it pull out of the apartment complex a half-block away and drive away from me. I went into a building, which had no pay phone, and called my boyfriend from a waiting room full of people. Thank you to the nice lady at the RSC.
Tomorrow is another day. I will ride the bus in the morning. I am not giving up.

Thank goodness, by the way, for Andrew and Jeff, whose words of encouragement rang in my head. I believe them when they say that I will get the hang of this.


Okay, Urban In-Fill has been an inspiration to me with his bus-riding commitment. I was already thinking about taking the bus to and from work for economic and environmental reasons. But, I really didn’t have any motion behind that thought. (pun intended) However, Jeff’s incredible savings plus current astronomical gas prices have really inspired me!

Today, I mapped out my route. I am very unfamiliar with bus routes and even how to ride a bus, so I did some research at COTA.com . That wasn’t really helpful, so I had to call the nice lady at COTA, who told me that I don’t have a bus that runs on the road where I live, at all. I wonder how many of the people who work in the office buildings all around my apartment, plus those who live in my complex, would commute by bus if they had access to one? Anyway…

Here is my plan:

1. Walk to the nearest bus stop. This is .8 miles uphill according to MapQuest, but I’ll make it a little shorter by cutting through parking lots of the office buildings that are between my apartment and the stop. We have no sidewalks and it is a very busy road. I will do this on nice days only, because I am a big pansy. Other days, I will have my boyfriend drive me. Trust me, this is a lot less driving than we were doing, especially on days he took me to work and went back home, went to work and came home, then came back across town to pick me up. Yeesh! So, I’ll walk to the stop most days.

2. I will take a bus to Broad & High, where I can pick up another one to work. A bus goes right by WOSU, which is across from the Schott. I will pick the bus up across the road and take it back to Broad & High at night, and then transfer to one that will take me home, to the stop from which I’ll have to walk again, or have someone pick me up.

3. I plan to start Monday, going to work only since I have an after-work meeting. Boyfriend will pick me up from the meeting. This will be a good start, since I’m a little nervous about the whole thing.

4. I will buy a bus pas, but only after I’ve done this for a week or so to see how it works out. OSU employees can receive $4 off their purchase of a bus pass. I think it should be more, since we’re technically state employees, but I’m going to look into that later.

I expect the following benefits:

1. I will save tons of money on fuel/transportation/car upkeep.

2. The extra walking will fulfill my intention to do more exercise. Since I do none now. I expect to be a svelte hot mama in a few months!

3. I will get more time to read both work-related items and books. I’m a book fiend.

4. I will continue to be forced to pack my lunch, since I won’t be able to run out for lunch anywhere. This has sort-of been forced because boyfriend has been bringing me to work for a couple months now. It’s good for the budget and the diet!

5. Excellent opportunities for people-watching.

So, wish me luck! And, thanks Jeff for the inspiration.

Update: I have postponed until Tuesday. Found out Friday night that boyfriend is working a double on Monday, so I have the car. Andrew: Boyfriend doesn’t even own a car, so he has “had” to ride the bus for a long time. Right now, he spends most of his time job hunting, which is hard without a car. He gets much more done being able to go to several places in a day and apply. After he gets hired, then we’ll talk about bussing it again. I think the perspective is different when you are forced to ride the bus all the time. However, I’m grateful for him — he’s telling me how to get around on the bus. I’m clueless.