Having grown up in rural and suburban areas, the thought of using public transportation rarely crosses my mind. To be honest, the few times it has crossed my mind it has always made me a little apprehensive. I have had a slightly irrational fear of getting on the wrong bus and worried that I might somehow break the rules (rules that don’t actually exist except in my own mind). Inspired by a recent trip to Detroit with the Knight Foundation, and my time working at DAP, I decided to challenge myself to step outside my comfort zone and ride the METRO bus to and from work one day.
Because I had never ridden a METRO bus before I was clueless on how to ride, how much it costs, and everything else one would need to know. While preparing for my first bus ride I found the METRO website to be extremely helpful. I used their Trip Planner to find out what bus I would need to ride, where I should get on and off, what time to be at the bus stop, and how long my trip would take. If you are planning to ride the METRO in the near future, or are curious about the routes, be sure to check out the Trip Planner first!
Feeling prepared, I walked outside my apartment on a chilly Wednesday morning and made my way to the bus stop near my West Akron apartment. Standing there waiting I was transported back in time and felt like I was waiting for the big yellow school bus. When I got on the bus the driver showed me where to put my money to pay for my ride and I quickly took a seat. Riders put on their headphones and listened to music, watched out the window, or talked on the phone and almost everyone seemed to observe the unspoken one seat buffer between them and other riders. Just 25 minutes later I exited the bus outside the Shoppes at Akron Center and had time to grab a coffee from Angel Falls Coffee Shop before walking to my office.
Boarding the bus to go home, I no longer felt nervous or scared. Instead I felt confident. I knew which bus to wait for, paid my fare, and enjoyed my ride home. While I prefer the convenience of travelling according to my own schedule, something I have become accustomed to since I got my license at 16, I feel at ease knowing I have another way to get to work should I need it.
In September, METRO and The University of Akron started a new partnership that allows students, faculty, and staff to ride for free using their ZIP Card. You can read more about this program on the METRO and University websites. Also, be sure to check out METRO’s new video, “All About the Bus!”
By: Kelli Fetter
Director of Events, Downtown Akron Partnership