When the bus is your transportation lifeline, you learn to live by its schedule

I grew up in Gary, next door to Chicago. It was just a train ride over, and Chicago adopted me.  I see why they call it Little New York. The transportation infrastructure—what the bus won’t do, the train will do. What the train won’t do, the L will do. You can get to where you need to go, and not just in the city. I went to a concert once downtown, and the train dropped me off right at the venue. Talk about leaving the promised land.

I’ve been riding IndyGo since I moved to this area about 13 years ago. It’s actually how I found my way around town initially, getting the bus to job interviews. I would call the customer service number and have them guide me. I bumped my head a little bit and stumbled, but eventually got to where I needed to go. Now I rely on it for everything: groceries, interviews, employment. I’m very familiar with the concept of transfers, waiting and walking.

There’s a bus stop just down from where I live on Washington Street east of downtown. Mercifully, the No. 8 bus is one of the frequent flyers. Although I’m not working right now, I take two buses to volunteer at the Urban League of Indianapolis. Since the routes have changed, I found out the hard way that the No. 10 doesn’t come by this way anymore. But I needed the exercise.

A couple years ago, I had a gig at Stericycle on the southwest side. I had to take three buses and go all the way out to Lynhurst and then literally walk for 45 minutes. I did that, wearing scrubs, for about three weeks before my coworkers started noticing me and would stop and pick me up. I met a lot of my coworkers that way.

As someone who has been early, late and on time when taking the bus, I recommend starting earlier than you think you need to. If you have to catch two or even three buses, you really have to plan it out. And expect delays. And don’t let it be a Sunday—not all the buses run, and the ones that do, don’t run very frequently. One Sunday when I was working at a call center on the west side, I got off work and had to wait an hour and a half for my first bus.

I have had to train myself to build my life around the bus schedule. I try not to venture out unless I’m sure I can get back while the buses are running, or if I have enough money for a taxi. In a city this size, 24-hour bus service should be a given. Even if it’s only once an hour, as least you’d have some hope.

It also would be nice to be able to go beyond the city limits. I read about events in Nuvo happening in Brownsburg or another place that I wouldn’t mind going to, but I simply can’t get there. It’s like a foreign country to me.