Rachel Anderson woke up early last Thursday morning and walked a few blocks from her McGraw home to hop on the 7:04 a.m. Route 5 First Transit bus to the County Office Building in Cortland. From there it was a short walk to BRU 64 for a coffee then on to her job as an accessibility modification coordinator at Access to Independence.
Anderson, who has a disability that sometimes impairs her vision, feels safe using public transit, and she enjoys the cost savings of leaving her car at home. However, the last Route 5 bus leaves the County Office Building at 4 p.m. meaning she would have to leave work about an hour and a half early to take it home-something that prohibits her from taking it daily.
She could do it Thursday, using some vacation time to leave early, and she says she's glad she did.
Everything about the experience was enjoyable, said Anderson-the bus driver was friendly (even offering her a bus schedule as she got off), the South St. bus shelter felt safe and the bus promptly arrived at 7:04. The streets were well lit and easy to navigate on her walk to and from the shelter and the county office building.
Anderson, a marathon runner, likes the physical activity of walking from the bus to and from her home and job. Part of the reason she used the bus Thursday was that she hadn't yet put snow tires on her car and with snow in the forecast, she felt more comfortable on the bus.
Another perk of public transportation, says Anderson, is the economic development angle. Anderson finds that once she's dropped off in the central downtown Cortland location, she's much more likely to spend time at downtown businesses. She got a coffee and did work for a class at BRU 64 before heading to work Thursday, and on another day she says she might be tempted to hop on the treadmill at the fitness center where she belongs.
Usually Anderson would take the 8:34 a.m. bus to get to her job at 9 a.m., but Thursday she chose to take the earlier bus and do other things before work. And on the days previously that she has taken the bus to work and didn't leave at 3:30 to catch the 4 p.m. bus home, she needed to rely on a co-worker traveling in the same direction, to drop her off at home.
On her ride home Thursday, Anderson said she was especially impressed by the driver, who blinked the bus' lights and honked the horn to stop traffic coming in the opposite direction on Main St. in McGraw-to allow the disembarking passengers to cross the crosswalk outside of the library.
One thing Anderson learned is to pay attention during the ride, so that you can request to be dropped off when you need it, otherwise you may find yourself on a longer trip than expected. She requested to be let off on Main Street since the bus did not turn toward the shelter on South Street, said Anderson, therefore avoiding a trip to Cincinnatus.
She said the bus drivers on both trips were very nice and friendly and accommodating.
"I'd have a pass and ride it every day if I could," she said.