Don’t freeze waiting for good transit.
Author: Lyndon Luu
One would think that in the debate between taking the bus or driving, the bus would win hands down, but it is more complicated than that. One’s city or town dictates the available modes of transportation. In a city like Toronto, it is very much a part of everyday life for most, if not all, to use some form of public transit. The city and the wider metropolitan area are big enough that city planners realize the need for a feasible transit system. The larger municipalities are built in such a way that people can often walk to most of their destinations or plan a public transit route that bypasses the need of a personal vehicle. In contrast, Regina’s infrastructure is built for cars, and its urban sprawl coupled with an inefficient transit system does not help. Even more, the signage and routes are often confusing and many of the stops lack sufficient protection to our weather conditions (compared to the warm subway stations in Toronto).
This leads to convenience. In major cities, a resident can map out a route with relative ease and have great access to the bus or subway; in Regina, we have buses and cabs. If we want to catch a late movie at the Cineplex, carpooling or owning a personal vehicle is our best bet, not the time-dependent bus. And considering the cost of going to the movies, cab fare only adds insult to injury. Of course, the express transit was a game changer, but it is only limited to the fall and winter semesters. Weekends? Good luck. In Regina, personal vehicles are the way to go to get you places on time. Did I mention the length of some the routes for a city of Regina’s size? Whole novellas can be read while going from the southeast end to the downtown bus hub. The other option is to bike it, but not everyone is willing to ride in the winter with a deadly wind chill on a thin piece of metal with a cold seat. Parking space is a hot topic, but if one knows the area and the rules, they are set. Parking at a distance and walking the extra 10 to 20 minutes is better than going to the closest bus stop (which can be far away from one’s home and destination) and potentially missing their bus, adding another 20 minutes to an hour, plus the length of the route itself. Did I mention winter?
Anyway, economics plays an obvious role. It is cheaper to buy a bus pass than it is to buy and maintain a car. However, if one finds a fuel-efficient (maybe second hand) vehicle with no frills, keeps good maintenance and drive solely out of necessity, the convenience outweighs the cost. Doctor’s appointment? Getting to an interview on time? The occasional cab ride is ok, but it is not a good habit.
In the end, in a city like Regina, personal motorized vehicles wins out for me simply because of convenience and an inefficient public transit system. I prefer bikes and my two feet, but where I need to go based on where I live in the city, I don’t have the time and I’m not brave enough to endure our winters outside a protective moving bubble.