Stressed out, but I’d do it again

I can honestly say that before this was written, I had never taken the bus. Sure, there was the occasional school bus or charter bus for competitions and field trips, but never anything regular enough for me to really get a feel for it. 

The minute I turned 16 I had the keys to a car in my hand. Before that I always had my mom to take me places like school or work. I know many students do not have this luxury, so I have decided to write my experience on what it was like to take public transportation for the first time. 

I live in Flour Bluff and when driving it usually takes me about 15-20 minutes to arrive on campus, depending on the traffic. I knew already that that would not be the case if I took the bus. The night before my expedition into the bus system I sat down at a computer with my mother to try to map out my route. Within the first five minutes both of us were incredibly lost. 

The Viking GO app {iTunes}{Android} has real-time maps of the bus routes, but without knowing what to look for or how to use it, it’s nearly impossible for someone who’s never taken the bus or looked at a bus route before to figure out. After that we tried looking at the city’s official transportation website and downloaded their app as well, with about equal results. If the buses are here for easy transportation for the public, why is figuring it out for the first time so hard?

Needless to say, we ended up Googling it. I scheduled myself for the earliest bus I could manage to get myself out of bed for and started my journey. 

The first step was finding the bus stop. Google told me it was about five minutes away by foot. Google is also a liar. Pro Tip: If Google tells you it’s five minutes away it’s safe to assume it’s actually 10-15. Cue the upped pace and the almost run I busted into when I realized I was going to be late. 

Reaching the stop created a whole new set of questions. Was I too late? Did I miss it? The answer was no to both of those questions as the bus was late by a good 10 minutes. 

I would like to thank the Flour Bluff route bus driver who helped me out that morning because she took one look at my student ID and kicked me off at the stop I needed, despite Google telling me I needed to stay on longer. To all the bus drivers out there, if you guys are reading this: Good job, keep going. 

Waiting for a transfer was a strange experience. I was at a bus stop at a place in Flour Bluff I’d only ever seen in passing and received a copious amount of worried text messages from my mother. Once the next bus stopped in front of me, I proceeded to hold everyone up as the bus driver answered my very worried questions with “Yes, this bus will take you to Del Mar. Just sit down and pull the yellow string when you want to get off.” 

Now that I was here and headed toward campus I knew I was in it for the long haul. Later that evening my mom would ask me if I was nervous, and I definitely was. I wasn’t sure how long it would take to get to my stop and kept checking my phone both for the time and the street corner my stop was located at so I wouldn’t forget. But this is still a story, and I am still a reporter, so that means an interview with some of the riders. 

Rebecca is a high school student who takes the bus every day to school. She moved out of her school district about a year ago and had decided to stay at the same school instead of transferring to stay with her friends. 

“It was confusing to me too at first,” she said. “But after a while you almost go into autopilot. You know your stops and you know about how long it takes to get where you need to go. I think it makes you get to know the city better too.” 


Middle school Noel Gutierrez overheard our conversation and agreed. 

“My mom goes to work too early to take me to school, and the school bus doesn’t come close enough to my house to pick me up,” he said. “I take the bus every morning and it really isn’t bad. The only downside is how early I have to get up, but it gives me time to finish papers and talk to my friends so I don’t really mind.” 

Noel Gutierrez

By this point I just feel silly that an 11-year-old is better at riding the bus than me. 

I did manage to get off at the right stop. I suppose it was a relief to not have to fight for parking, but the walk from the stop to my first class was about the same as usual. Overall it took about an hour and a half to get to campus. As I sat down in my first class and thought about this new experience I couldn’t fathom having to do it every single day for class, let alone relying on it to get to other places.

Overall I would rank this experience as “stressful yet effective” and something that, surprisingly, I wouldn’t mind doing again. 

But only if I had to. 

Check out the interactive map and another rider’s story!

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