Olympia Food Coop features RBB!
Carol Sipe, an enthusiastic public transit advocate and fan of Rebels by Bus, has written a delightful article about her experiences with Rebels by Bus. The article is featured in the 2015 summer edition of the Olympia Food Coop newsletter. The article (and pictures) can be found on page 8. Following is the text of the article. Thanks, Carol!
Years ago, when I lived on the East Coast, I traveled everywhere by public transportation, mainly by train or subway. It was easy. Most of the time it was safe, and a lot cheaper than owning a car in Manhattan. Later, when I moved to Maine, I had to give up public transit since there wasn’t public transportation outside of Portland. A car was a necessity. Whenever I traveled outside the state, I left the car at home and hopped a bus or train to destinations south. I loved every minute of the travel.
When I moved to Olympia in 1991, I assumed I could get around as I had on the East Coast. Imagine my dismay when I discovered there wasn’t a great public transportation system out here. Once you were in Seattle you could move around, but it wasn’t easy. Getting from Olympia to Seattle was very difficult. My only option to go north of Olympia was to travel I-5 by car and I hated every minute of that drive.
Then, a couple of years ago, while glancing through the Continuing Education brochure from South Sound Community College, I noticed classes called Rebels by Bus. There were several of them. The first class was an overview of the public transportation systems and how to navigate them. The listings that followed had destinations attached. At that time, most of those destinations were in Seattle such as the International District and Pike Place Market. These class offerings made me think that the public transportation system might have improved since 1991.
When I retired, I could attend the weekday classes. Beginning with the introductory class, I was thrilled with what I learned. Not only has the public transit system vastly improved, you can get almost anywhere from Olympia to points North, anywhere in Seattle, around the Olympic Peninsula, across the Sound and inlets, and you can do it with ease. And, it is inexpensive! The multiple transit systems honor senior passes, and seniors travel at half price or less. Mason Transit, for instance, is free for everyone in Mason County. It takes time to figure out the connections, but with some planning and patience, it is easy to do.
The Rebels by Bus classes are the creation of Mary Williams and her friend, Gail Johnson. Gail has moved on to Portland, so Mary now does the trips on her own. When Mary was working as a public administrator for various agencies in Olympia, she often had to attend meetings in Seattle. She also tired of driving on I-5 and the struggle with parking. When she realized she could get there by bus, almost to the front door of where she had to go, she changed her mode of travel. Over time, she realized that more people might like to know about this and she has become a public transportation activist. She calls her trips: “Slow travel with Low Carbon Footprint.”
I’ve taken many trips with Mary since I first saw the class listings. All of them have been great fun and all start in Olympia. We’ve eaten at some incredible restaurants. We’ve traveled all over the Greater Puget Sound area (and beyond,) from Seattle to Bremerton, to the Quinault Lodge, Gig Harbor and Snohomish. We’ve traveled on the Monorail, Link light rail, the Metro system, Sound Transit and various other transit systems, the ferries and the Sounder Train. In Seattle, we’ve been to the Theo Chocolate factory in Fremont, Ballard locks, University District, Pike Place Market, and the Seattle Center, just to name a few. I never thought I’d like Tacoma, but I do now; we often pass through there, or visit sites I’ve never noticed before. We’ve walked for miles as we explored all the various possibilities at our destinations. My list is endless now and I don’t have enough room here to include them all.
The one constant in all these travels, are the nice people I meet on the trips and on the bus. You hear stories about unruly bus riders, but I’ve only seen one incident, and the driver took care of it immediately. All of the transit systems are clean and neat. There are rules, of course, like not eating on the bus. You must give up your seat to an elderly person, a blind person, or someone in a wheelchair. And everyone does. No one asks them to, they just do it. I think that’s pretty amazing, and very kind. White hair is definitely a plus on the bus.
This summer, Mary is expanding her Rebels by Bus trips to include family outings, and, possibly, Mystery Trips. I don’t have those listings at the time of this writing, but I am certain they will be fun. She also offers trips through the Senior Center, and you don’t have to be a senior to take them. An Olympic Loop trip is tentatively scheduled for early October. All trips fill up very fast, so it’s important to sign up as soon as you see them offered.
You can find out more about Rebels by Bus by visiting Mary’s website at www.rebels-by-bus.net. Her Facebook page is Facebook.com/groups/rebelsbybus. You can reach her directly by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out the Senior Center Trips as well at www.southsoundseniors.org. SPSCC trips are listed under Corporate & Continuing Education/Travel and Excursions at www.spscc.edu/cce. If you don’t want to sign up for the trips, you can still learn how to travel by bus by studying the information Mary has listed on her sites.