For some odd reason, I could not relieve my feelings of anxiety. “Get a hold of yourself. It’s only one bus ride. It’s not like you’re going to get lost”. I am no stranger to public transportation, as I have been riding on buses and trains since I can remember. I even have a lot of experience with airplanes, as I have been flying to-and-fro England and the States by myself since I was 10 years old. But for some reason, the LYNX system makes me feel uneasy. I’m not too sure what it is—maybe it is because of the couple of bad experiences I’ve had with it in the past.
The last time I rode the LYNX, I was visiting a friend who lived on Hiawassee Road which is over in West Orlando, about 10 minutes away from Universal Studios. Driving from the University of Central Florida to her house takes on average 25 minutes on a good day with minimal traffic. To get to hers via bus from UCF took me 2.5 hours. That entire trip had to be one of the most nerve-wracking journeys I’ve ever endured. From having to walk a couple of blocks in the scorching midday heat due to missing the bus stop to having to wait for a transfer bus for 45 minutes—it was the day that put LYNX in my bad books. However, I told myself that in order to participate in TrIP I’d have to be willing to give the LYNX a second chance.
I had decided that I would use my TrIP journey to experience what it is like for transient students that travel between Valencia Community College East Campus and UCF. I have several car-less friends that attend Valencia, and I have heard mixed reviews about the LINK 104.
When I got on the bus, I noticed how dark and eerie it appeared. The worn-down blue flecked cloth on the seats bore holes and the air smelt like mildew and old fries. The seats in the back were cluttered together and I questioned if the designers chose this strange seating arrangement to humor themselves, foreseeing the many awkward moments strangers would have to share with one another, as they’d invade on each other’s personal space. It could have been due to the gloomy weather outside, but everyone on the bus sat in pure silence for the duration of the trip. You could hear a pin drop. I could tell that the majority, if not all, of the commuters frequently rode on bus 104. When we reached Valencia, all of the students stood up simultaneously, toting their heavy back packs and books. It was evident who the VCC students were, as they continued to stare blankly at their cell phones and without looking up hopped off the bus. It was as if they instinctively knew when their stop was approaching without even taking a moment to look up before getting off.
The entire journey from UCF to VCC took around 30 minutes to complete, which is not bad considering the two campuses are 6.3 miles away from each other. My bus ride as a whole was quite pleasant. The phone app I used, Orlando Bus Schedule, was very reliable and the bus showed up on time as indicated on the bus schedule. However, waiting an hour one-way for a bus is just plain ridiculous. Orlando is a large city home to almost 250,000 people, and is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the country. So why are we lacking in buses and why are so many areas in and around the city not serviced? Something needs to change, and participating in this project has made me more aware of this issue.
This blog post was originally published on TrIP: The Knight, Fantastic blog.