The Wheels on the Bus

This morning I travelled to work by public transport, making use of both the train and bus network. Nothing remarkable in that, millions of people do it every day, but for me it’s a change because normally I make the 30ish mile round-trip by car. And it got me thinking, yet again, about whether it’s worth making a more permanent change.

It wasn’t always this way, of course. Until 5 years ago, I travelled to and from across the city by train. Cambuslang, where I grew up, has a great service to and from the city centre, and when I moved to my current job, although it was way over on the other side of town, it was directly accessible by train, up to 4 times an hour.

All that changed in late 2005, when my work was relocated. At the same time we were looking to move to a bigger house, and the planned city centre office opened up various neighbourhoods that we’d previously not considered. Which is how we came to be in Hamilton. Unfortunately for me, the city centre office fell through, replaced with accomodation in Maryhill.

For a while I continued using public transport, because it’s what I was used to and I liked being able to disappear into my own little bubble: play some music, read a newspaper or a book, and generally just switch off from the world for a bit. But it was never quick. The time required to change between rail and road varied on a daily basis, which meant my arrival time (at either end) became hard to predict.

And it didn’t save me any money either. Both of my end-points were just outside of zone boundaries, meaning that I was paying the same for my Zonecard as someone who journeyed twice as far. But that was my only option, because I need both bus and train. And it worked out roughly the same as my petrol costs would have been.

When Ian started working with me, and therefore started making the same daily journey, it was a no-brainer – 2 people in the car halves the cost, therefore making it a good bit cheaper than public transport, as well as being quicker, something that’s even more important now that we have the girls.

But I never find time to read any more. And petrol prices just seem to be spiralling ever upwards. So I thought I’d revisit public transport.

Zonecard (covering bus and train) still works out around the same cost as the petrol I’m using. So even if/when I’m no longer travelling with Ian, there’s little incentive to make the switch. I don’t have a convenient rail only option (nearest station is about a mile from the office) which leaves an all-bus journey. And what I’ve discovered is that there’s a lot of money to be saved here.

If I’m reading First Glasgow‘s web site right, I could more than halve the cost of my daily commute, which isn’t to be sniffed at. And I’d get my “me” time back too, which is nice. Best of all, if it’s that much cheaper, even if I did drive over the odd day for convenience, I’m still saving overall. The only downside, then, is the extra travel time. I’ve got little enough time to spend with the girls during the week already – do I want to sacrifice any more?

That’s something I can maybe work on, though. I’ve noticed that the journey planner recommends different services depending on my journey’s end point, even though each option I enter is within walking distance of the same bus stops, so maybe I can get the journey time down a bit. Maybe I’ll give the bus a try one week, just to see how it is.

Back to the present, though, and while I’ve been writing this, I received a phone call from the garage, to say the car is ready to be picked up. So for a while, at least, normal service shall be resumed.

Update: Over the weekend, First Glasgow updated their pricing structure, and there no longer appears to be an option to buy more than one week’s bus travel at a time. So weekly tickets would be my only option, which bumps the cost up a good bit. Still about 40% cheaper than the Zonecard option right enough.

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!