As the newest addition to the GoTriangle team, I knew I would have a lot to learn about the infrastructure behind public transportation. I’m the marketing intern for the upcoming fall semester and I have to be honest with you all, I’ve had zero experience with public transit prior to this week. My first day in the office mainly involved the previous intern showing me the ropes—and trying to get a feel for what I already know about transit. When he learned that I had never actually been on a Triangle Transit (or any other triangle area bus for that matter), we immediately planned a bus trip for the next day.
Using the Transit Trip Planner, we decided the ideal route for our little adventure would be the 800 and found the stop we would get off at when we arrived at our destination at UNC. Being an NCSU student and therefore a die-hard Wolfpack fan, this location seemed less than ideal to me but, hey— I’m just an intern. The trip started out easy enough. We walked out of the office to the Regional Transit Center behind the building and as expected, the 800 came rolling around the corner, right on time. Before we knew it, we were hopping off the bus at the UNC student bookstore. We briefly walked through the bookstore and campus and I have to admit–I have to force my fingers to type these words–that the UNC campus may possibly be more attractive than our own at State. After a quick lunch meeting, it was time to head back to the office.
What happened next truly made me appreciate the skill it takes to successfully commute via public transportation. We returned to our bus stop in time to see the 805 waiting across the street. Realizing that bus would get us back to the RTC, we casually walked across the street and around the back of the bus just in time for it to pull off. Lesson #1: Know your departure time and arrive to your stop early. We now know that we should have (safely, of course) booked it across the street.
Minutes later we spotted an 800 arriving on the other side of the street so we crossed back over only to find out that that particular bus ended service at the next stop. Lesson #2: Check your schedule to make sure you are getting on in the right direction. If you don’t, you could end up one stop down, stranded. The next 800 was scheduled to come through 45 minutes later, so we found some air conditioning to wait it out and arrived back at the stop with time to spare (see Lesson #1). Ten minutes pass and we’re giving each other concerned looks. After 15 minutes we started to suggest various explanations like “There was a wreck in front of the bus!” and “Someone had to load a bike and it took 5 minutes but they’re on the way!”. After 20 minutes, we knew. The 1:44 PM 800 was not coming. As resourceful Triangle Transit interns, we decide to call the GoTriangle Call Center (485-RIDE/7433, if you don’t know about it), who informed us that unfortunately, our bus had a mechanical issue. Bummer! This is a rare occurrence, but you know Murphy’s Law doesn’t discriminate, not even with the transit intern. So here’s Lesson #3: Plan for the unexpected. Life happens and its best to take a breath, relax, and have a book handy.
The next bus was coming soon. At 2:40, we were rewarded with a beautiful sight— shining and glorious — the 800!
With relief we boarded the bus, happily basked in the air conditioning, enjoyed the free Wi-Fi and arrived safely back at the office. While this wasn’t my ideal first-time out, I know this is just the beginning. Equipped with my new-found respect for the system and knowing what not do, I’ll get back out there—Just maybe not back out to UNC any time soon.
* Not that the bus can’t get you to UNC, I just rather use the 105 to my home field (Go Pack!)