The following is written by Anthony Wilder Puzzuoli, a Grand Rapids citizen and Rapid rider. One of Anthony’s 2017 resolutions is to ride all of The Rapid’s routes. He’s sharing his experiences with us as he goes. You can find his first blog here.
I’ve taken the bus a handful of times, with all the trips being for pleasure, and nothing really time sensitive like getting to a meeting or being to work. I’ve been to the bar. I’ve gone out to eat. My wife and I went on a date. I met some interesting people. So far, it’s been a fun experience. I’d like to share a few insights from my travels.
One of the most pleasant things about riding the bus so far, for me, has been giving up control. When I travel around town, typically I’m riding my bike, walking or driving. Basically, I’m the one doing the traveling. I’m paying attention, I’m trying to be safe, I’m trying to avoid broken glass and over-friendly dogs. There is a constant level of focus on my surroundings that I need to sustain.
When I first sat down on the bus, I experienced a feeling of panic! I didn’t know what to do. There was nothing I had to do! I just got to sit and after I realized that the driver wasn’t going to ask me to drive the bus or to be on the lookout for potholes, I relaxed. It was glorious. I didn’t realize how much of my mind space during traveling is focused on the act of the traveling. Riding the bus, I could fill my mind with other things. I thought about the book I had been reading, conversations I had at work, I took the time to notice the buildings, streets and people I saw out the window. I almost could have fallen asleep. When I first sat down on the bus, I experienced a feeling of panic! I didn’t know what to do. There was nothing I had to do! After I realized that the driver wasn’t going to ask me to drive the bus or to be on the lookout for potholes, I relaxed. It was glorious. I didn’t realize how much of my mind space during traveling is focused on the act of the traveling. Riding the bus, I could fill my mind with other things. I thought about the book I had been reading, conversations I had at work, I took the time to notice the buildings, streets and people I saw out the window. I almost could have fallen asleep.
On one of my trips, there was a light drizzle when I left the bar to return home. As I stood at the stop getting damp, a fellow passenger informed me that the bus was running late. He had used his phone to check. He suggested that we’d be better off taking a different route back to Central Station and we moved to the intersecting street to wait for a different bus. As we stood outside the drizzle turned to rain and I realized that nowhere at this intersection was a bus shelter. We moved to the awning of a closed business and waited for the bus to arrive. When the bus arrived, our trip didn’t end as we had another connection to catch to get back to Central Station. This time there was a shelter and other passengers chatted while we waited. In retrospect, it probably would have been better to just wait for the original bus. The late arrival of the bus, the rain, lack of shelter and waiting give me the feeling of being a bit exposed and out of my comfort zone. However, the willingness of the fellow passengers to share information, and converse to pass the time made the unanticipated journey enjoyable. Lesson learned: Bring an umbrella and a friendly smile!
My wife and I rode the bus to Tillman’s with plans to go to a different bar for drinks afterward. Now the bus might not be most people’s idea of a romantic mode of transportation however, we didn’t have to worry about parking, driving our car after drinking, or the moral dilemma of taking an Uber home. We could just enjoy each other’s company, which is the makes it a very romantic mode of date transportation. Also, because the DASH doesn’t run on Saturday nights, we had to walk a little further and enjoyed a stroll over the river. Date night bonus! After dinner, the bus dropped us off a block from Bridge Street with numerous bars being just a quick walk away. Truth be told, we walked home that night making our dinner date a true multimodal trip.
BUS RIDING BY THE NUMBERS
Routes I’ve ridden: 1, 4, 5, 7, 24
New businesses visited: 2
Wing Avenue (803 Burton Street SE): Friendly service and great wings.
Silver Derby (816 Burton Street SE): Cold beer served quickly.
Anthony Wilder Puzzuoli has lived in Grand Rapids since 2002 when he moved here to attend Aquinas College. He’s worked at Local First as Membership Coordinator for the last few years and has recently started riding The Rapid as a way to explore the city. One of his favorite things about living in Grand Rapids is being so close to the lakeshore.