Yippee, the bus is here!

DANIELA RIBITSCH

Lock Haven

Having been a regular on the Jersey Shore Connector since 2009, I wrote a two-part Viewpoint published in The Express in 2013 on the benefits of expanding River Valley Transit’s bus service to Lock Haven.

Riding a public bus is one of the world’s most normal ways of traveling, and cities all around us thrive on buses. Not just huge cities like New York City, where people prefer public transportation over owning cars, but also small cities like State College or Williamsport. It was therefore clearly high time for Lock Haven to get connected as well. And while I still look in disbelief at the many years it has taken to bring the bus to Lock Haven, I am truly excited now to finally see it run through our community, and I hope that it will become as much of an indispensable community member as in so many other American cities!

At this point I would really like to say THANK YOU and CONGRATULATIONS to all the supporters of the bus service, who have been so persistent in bringing the bus here despite the continuous resistance they were confronted with for so many years!

You probably get a sense that I truly love riding the bus, and I also take great pride in being able to commute to work in Williamsport in the country of cars without even having an American driver’s license. Thanks to the Clinton County Connector, Williamsport now seems even closer than before! Instead of going to Jersey Shore anymore, I have started to pick up the morning Express bus at the UPMC doctors’ offices in McElhattan, which drives straight to downtown Williamsport while I read, write, or grade. I really don’t think you can ask for any faster and more relaxing way to travel there!

However, as it is the case with all new institutions, there is always room for improvement.

The bus schedule admittedly is not ideal, and I will thus not be able to use the new bus options as much as I’d hoped. Yet we have to keep in mind that providing a community inexperienced in public transportation with a bus schedule that serves everyone right from the beginning is by no means easy. Successful schedules need time to develop, and depend on passengers’ riding behavior and on their feedback.

But despite some weakness in the schedule, bringing the bus to our area was without doubt a crucial and necessary move. The next crucial step will be to make the bus a full member of our community. Obviously, we all have our habits of traveling, and changing those habits can be scary and a true challenge.

But still: give the bus a fair chance during this trial period! Riding is free through March 10, so take this opportunity, hop on, and make up your own mind about the bus. Since the ride is free anyway, you have nothing to lose. If you get on the Express bus at the UPMC at 8:05 a.m., you will be in Williamsport in no time, and going back, you take the Jersey Shore Connector and transfer to the Lock Haven bus in Jersey Shore. And make sure to bring a good book to experience what it feels like to enjoy yourself while traveling to a destination without having to worry about traffic.

If you have never ridden a bus before, this can indeed be an intimidating idea. But again, the ride is free and you will not lose anything by trying it once. Instead, you will end up with a first-hand experience of what the bus is like. You may actually find that River Valley Transit’s buses are not scary at all but rather comfortable, and that their bus drivers are friendly and competent, and always happy to help you find the right stop and connection.

So be fair and give the bus a fair chance! Like me, you probably won’t be disappointed!

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