28 December 2008

Strengthening Community by Riding the Bus

They call it a community on wheels but its reach travels further, to the community without wheels.

A group of Sooke bus riders has put a new twist on their hour-long work commute to and from Victoria every day on the No. 61.

Instead of spending the ride in solitary silence, nosing into a book or staring out the windows, the commuters race against each other to complete crossword puzzles, buy and sell wares, and plan social events with each other -- which they get to by bus, of course...

B.C. Transit spokeswoman Joanna Morton said this is the first time the company has heard of the community-on-wheels aspect of bus commuting.

"It's given us a nice warm fuzzy. The bus isn't just for getting you from point A to point B," Morton said. "It's giving you the opportunity to get to know people in your community."

The sociable aspect has turned the bus ride from a time to be endured into a vital part of the commuters' day.

"You wouldn't think a bus is more than a piece of equipment," Wright said.

"But you can't sit on the 61 and not somehow get involved."

Now if the public transportation up-Island could be improved, there's a large number of additional small to middling sized communities which would love to follow Sooke's most excellent example.

Look at all the smiles in this photo. Sure beats the glum expressions transit riders usually wear.

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