Last week I had planned on traveling out to my parent’s house for my mom’s birthday, but we ended up all going to my aunt’s house that night in Conway. She had made birthday dinner and so Nicole and I rode with my parents there and back. So I decided Thursday I would finally take the bus out there to their house. So far all my bus trips had been pretty short and most had been within biking distance of my house. But I needed to take a longer trip and a ride out to Stagecoach Rd from downtown would be perfect.
After work, I rode my bike out to the bus station and found the #14, Rosedale Line. I’ve begun to notice that the busses do not come and go at a steady pace through the day; rather, a lot of them have similar schedules and depart from the station at the same time. I guess it makes it easier to catch a bus if you know the general time that all the busses leave rather than having to remember a particular time for each bus. The Rosedale bus was empty, but I went ahead and loaded my bike on the front and waited for the bus driver to arrive. She finally showed up and eight of us boarded the bus. We pulled out at 5:48, 3 minutes after the scheduled time. I believe it’s a misconception, one that I had as well, that busses are always late and get further and further behind schedule as they travel along their routes. I have noticed that typically the busses do not arrive or depart at the exact time as shown on the schedules but have been surprisingly closer than I thought they would be. And honestly, how many times do airlines arrive at the exact time specified? How often do people driving their own cars arrive at the exact minute they think they are going to? I know I’ve been late plenty of times even though I was driving myself. But being on time plays a bigger role in public transportation that with other transportation modes because riding it is a choice for most people and if they’re not 100% satisfied with it, they will revert back to driving themselves again because they feel they have more control over the outcome.
We drove down Broadway and turned on Charles Bussey Ave (20th st) and cut through the Central High neighborhood. Once again, it was interesting and sad all at the same time to drive through the neighborhood that had so many large and beautiful old homes, some that were well kept but many that were abandoned or in disarray. We turned onto Roosevelt Rd at the corner of the Fairgrounds and saw the State Fair that was going on this week
There’s been a lot of debate over moving the fair to a new location that is more convenient to get to, i.e. the interstate. The fairgrounds are on Roosevelt, which is actually Highway 70 and Highway 67. This was once the main thoroughfare into Little Rock from the south before Interstate 30 was built. However now all the traffic that once poured into the city along this road has moved to the Interstate to the south and now Roosevelt and the fairgrounds lie in a forgotten and derelict part of the city that most people have trouble getting to and are intimidated by. I personally think they should take the millions of dollars that are being proposed to relocate the fairgrounds and spend them instead to build a new exit on Interstate 30 for the fairgrounds by extending ML King Dr to the south so that it once again it easily accessible from the main highway. Just a thought.
The bus proceeded on and I pulled up the bus schedule on my phone to check our time. The next timed stop was at Asher and University. We were running a minute or two ahead of schedule and I was surprised when the bus driver pulled over on the side of the street and informed us that we would have to wait here for two minutes so that we would stop at the intersection at exactly 6:13 as scheduled. So the bus may be late sometimes because of traffic but they do make sure that they don’t arrive early at any scheduled stops. Sometimes running early can be just as bad as running late, because what if a rider arrives at a stop right on times but finds the bus has already passed through even though it was scheduled to be there later?
We continued on down Col. Glenn Rd. and I knew the bus was going to turn right up ahead and I would have to get off and ride my bike to the left down Stagecoach. I pulled the cord near what I thought would be the next stop but the driver stopped at a yield sign in the intersection and I had to get off there. There was no shoulder and the road dropped down into a ditch. I unloaded my bike and crossed in front of the bus to a concrete Island in the middle of the intersection. I definitely wasn’t in a pedestrian friendly area anymore. The state had reconstructed this intersection years ago and widened Stagecoach and had also put in a sidewalk. It was pretty wide but it was directly adjacent to the highway and was still a little nerve racking to feel the cars go whizzing by. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as what was up ahead. The highway had been expanded to five lanes up to about 500 ft from my parent’s house where it shrunk back down to two lanes at a bridge crossing a creek. No sidewalk, no bike lane, no shoulder, nothing but a big ditch. So I waited for traffic to pass and for a break long enough that I could peddle my but off down the highway to their driveway.
I had originally planned this trip to be an overnight trip because I didn’t think there was another bus running late enough for the trip to be worth wild, but I had found earlier that week that actually the last bus stopped nearby at around 8:40 and I had biked up to the house at 6:28 so I had about two hours to spend. We had dinner and hung out outside and I even got to watch a little of the World Series with my Dad before I had to leave to bike back to the bus stop. So about 8:20 I told my parents good night and biked back down the hill into the darkness.
I had my blinking red tail light on though that gave me little comfort but luckily there wasn’t much traffic and I was back at the intersection where I had gotten off earlier in no time. However the intersection wasn’t actually a bus stop. The driver had just let me off there because she was stopped. So I biked a few yards down Col. Glenn and found a bus stop on the side of the road. Once again, no shoulder, only a ditch. I had turned my tail light off since I wasn’t actually biking anymore but after the first car whizzed by I decided it wouldn’t be a bad idea to let drivers and the bus know I was there. The bus came around the corner at 8:36 and I believe the driver was a little surprised to see someone at that stop, that late at night and with a bike. There were 2 other people on the bus and we rode down Col. Glenn and turned right on Shakleford and on 36th St. as the bus began its route back towards downtown. We stopped at a large rent house subdivision off of 36th st and the other two riders got out. I was the only one of the bus for quite a while. A few more riders got on at Asher and on our way back we stopped at UALR. I’m going to have to find out how many busses stop at UALR because there seems to be a lot of them. We rode back past the fair again. It was lit up and pretty lively and as we wound our way back to Broadway, the rest of the passenger all got off except for me.
When I looked up the time that the last bus would be arriving at the bus station I was a little confused because it only had a dash. I wondered why they didn’t give a time for the final arrival at the bus station and soon found out. As we drove down Broadway, the driver asked me where I was getting off at. I told him at Capitol. He pulled over and let me off and that’s when I realized the busses don’t return to the bus station at the end of the night, rather they just travel on to the bus parking area in North Little Rock. It worked out fine for me because I got off closer to my house than if I had gotten off at the bus station, but if I was coming back from North Little Rock? Would I have had to got off in North Little Rock and ridden the whole way back to my house? I guess it makes since that the busses would return directly to the parking area rather than going by the bus station first because so few people catch the last bus of the night into downtown. I got on my bike and biked down Capitol Ave on my way home with a great view of the Capitol building, gleaming up ahead.