Tag Archives: San Antonio

VIA Bus: Carless in San Antonio

My father did not approve of very much of anything I did while he was alive, and while I recognize a few accomplishments, in retrospect I agree with many of his objections. But now, he would be entirely disgusted.
Dad was attached to his cars. During his last few stays in the hospital, he made sure his car was in the parking lot, preferably someplace he could see it from his room. For my dad, car ownership and the liberty provided therein was part of being a man. My dad also knew I was very tough on cars. Still, when Rocinante died last summer, I sold her for parts. I drove Cat’s car until we split up in January. I have been busing since Jan. 1.
I like many things about busing. I can read, make calls, text and ride (more abut bus wifi below) just to watch the city go by (did you know we have a Snowden street? I wonder if it’s named after hero Edward.) Two excellent advantages: my transportation costs are $17.50 a month plus the occasional taxi for client meetings and staying out late; and second, I have lost a lot of weight.
There are two W words involved in the busing lifestyle. When you ride the bus, you will walk, and you will wait.
The bus is not door to door, and the┬ástop might be a considerable distance between you and your destination. If it’s rainy, there’s a third W – you will get wet. An umbrella helps, but it’s still wet.
Waiting is inevitable. There are tools – Google maps, Via’s real time bus text system – that help you time your departure, managing at least one wait during your trip. When you transfer, the text system will tell you how long you are going to wait.

Some transfers have a distance between your stop and the transfer point. That’s when you discover the dreaded once-an-hour buses. I often land about seven minutes after the bus has passed; a couple of times I would be on the trek to a connection, and two blocks from the stop, the connecting bus sails past. Those just-missed buses are ALWAYS one per hour routes.
All of the Transit Centers have wifi, the UTSA Park and Ride at 10 and 1604 has a healthy signal. The Express buses (best in the fleet) and Primo have wifi. It’s cellular wifi, so I don’t use it for Netflix, but I can check mail and play Words with Friends, Facebook, Twitter, the usual suspects.
A special delight are bus routes that go precisely where I need to go. One of the two buses that pass the apartment goes through the Medical Center Transit Center (connects to Primo, which goes directly to Brady Green, my doctor’s office) then drives past the pharmacy then to MARC, the cardiologist’s office. The other bus goes to Crossroads, where I can catch an Express downtown or UTSA. To get to Al Rendon’s, I take either bus and connect to the Woodlawn, which passes through downtown to stop 1 block from his studio.
Other destinations can be more challenging, but one can reach anyplace in the city, with Google maps outlining the route for you. Out of town, particularly nearby locations, such as Boerne or San Marcos, are out of the question.
When you don’t drive, you don’t drive through, and it is much less convenient to drop in to the convenience store, and my junk food quotient dropped precipitously. Combine the fast food deprivation with walks to the bus, and I have lost nearly 50 pounds.
Dating is impossible. Even the most liberated woman wants a dancer and a driver. I can almost dance – I need some more practice to chance holding a woman in my arms for two-step or a waltz, but until then, I am very insecure about trying. While I am a nice man, not addicted, with manners and respect (somewhat uncommon among my demographic), car-lessness is not good. And anytime I feel the urge to invite someone for dinner or an adventure, Daddy’s standing over my shoulder asking me what kind of man calls a woman expecting her to drive.
I turn around and lay out for my dad the attributes described above – I am a gentleman – and proclaim my uniqueness, my ability to focus on the person I am with, the words I write that they never forget. That guy might take 2 hours to get somewhere, but he’s not a bad sort, and he sends interesting mail.