Suzanne Ybarra shares about her experiences commuting on Cherriots
How do you get to work?
I drive from Woodburn to the Keizer Transit Center. It takes under 20 minutes. I catch the bus and ride for 25 minutes to the Downtown Transit Center. Going home gives me another twenty-five minutes of bus time.
Why do you choose this mode of transportation?
Life is busy. Riding the bus gives me an hour each day for just me. I’m in charge. I decide if I want to look out the window and rest or do something else. Usually I read, pray, text, do Sudoku, or think about my life. I’ve seen other riders use the time to meet someone new or catch up with someone they’ve not seen in a while.
I’m getting something done while someone else is taking me to my destination on time. I save gas money. I don’t have to deal with traffic.
Riding the bus also fits my value system. It’s good for our air quality if we have fewer cars on the road; I’m helping the environment. Another value is remembering that the universe does not revolve around me. Riding the bus allows me a glance into others’ lives: the mom with her cute little child and the man who rides with his granddaughter to and from her school.
I’ve become a “regular” on the bus. I recognize the others who ride often and they recognize me. I feel connected to the life going on around me.
At the end of a work day, it helps to have a ride waiting for me.
How many days a week do you travel to work using a mode other than driving alone?
I take the bus five days a week.
What do you like about your commute?
When I started my new job in Salem, I was not familiar with the city. Riding the bus has taught me street locations and available routes. This has been especially helpful regarding downtown and its one-way streets.
Now I know my bus’s route. I can wait at a bus stop or choose to get some exercise by walking to the next stop.
Also, I can ride the bus, get off to shop, and then get back on the bus. This saves me from using my car for my shopping errands.
What, if anything, would you change about your commute?
If I had the power to change anything, I would add environmental supports on the bus to help riders relate to one another. There would be no pressure to relate, but with something like music on the sound system, it could open the door for conversation. I envision a variety of musical genres playing over the sound system. (It would need to pause for the announcement of bus stops.)
The music could address all musical tastes. I’m not saying, “Turn up the radio.” I’m saying we could have recordings of jazz, hip hop, blues, country, rock, folk, and so on. Each song might give a common experience which could lead to connection. We have enough in our society which separates. Wouldn’t it be nice if riding the bus could be an occasion for unifying people?
Is there anything else you’d like to tell people?
We have limited opportunities in which we can travel while having the choice to:
1. Simply sit or do something.
2. Have time to ourselves or interact with others.
3. Save money and help the environment.
4. Learn something new and broaden our experience.
Public transportation gives us opportunities for all of that.