I am a big fan of public transportation. I like that effective public transportation relieves a person of the onerous responsibilities of automotive transportation. I like that public transportation is generally cheaper than personal transportation. I like that public transportation reduces the opportunities for interaction with the authorities, and the subsequent fines and jail time that often result. I like that when you leave your car at home, you’re not responsible for parking it, or finding it, or getting it home again if you happen to get a better offer.
But mostly I like the humanity. I like the lovelorn couple crying in separate seats. I like the young mother trying to corral rambunctious kids and spilt groceries. I like the uniformed chef with his shades on and his earbuds in, rocking out in his own private Idaho.
I like the old man knitting his way between stops.
So I’m disappointed that the BRIO isn’t more popular.
Sure, it’s just a bus. But it also comes a lot more frequently than the regular bus. The bus that transects my neighborhood comes every forty minutes. That means I have to check the bus’ schedule before I go stand on the curb. Sometimes, inexplicably, the bus comes early, and I’m stranded without a ride.
But the BRIO comes every twenty minutes, max. For rush hour it comes every ten minutes. That compares favorably with the time it takes me to find my car keys, or to herd my loved ones out the door.
Unfortunately, the BRIO isn’t getting a lot of love. Riding the bus in El Paso is freighted with social stigma. Buses are for poor people, and even poor people don’t want to admit that they’re poor. But that’s not the only reason that people don’t want to ride the BRIO.
Gas prices are at an historic low, and traffic congestion isn’t that bad. If it cost more and took longer to get anywhere driving a car, there’d be more reason to take the bus.
Eventually, I-10 will close for maintenance, and then the BRIO will make all the sense in the world. Till then, I’ll keep riding it alone, just me and the humanity.