It was nearing 9 a.m. and bus No. 5 still hadn’t arrived at the South Main bus stand.
I had to make a transfer to No. 3 to reach Haven Hill by the appointed time to continue volunteering and introduce a new person to the Senior Surveying process underway province-wide. I started walking back home to call a taxi when I saw No. 5 rounding the curve to the south. “I’d nearly given up hope. Will I miss No. 3?” I asked Bob Keller, the driver.
“Medical emergency — had to wait for the ambulance. Let me call the other driver,” said Bob.
After a brief conversation, Bob said the other driver would come back to Cherry Lane to collect me. As we neared the central bus stand, there was Bob Gamblen on No. 3 back to get me on my way. I was stunned at this level of service.
I moved to Penticton, in part, eight years ago because I’d chosen not to own a vehicle and wanted a small city where I could walk, cycle, and use the city bus service to conduct everyday activities. I’m a big fan of the city bus service and find the drivers courteous, helpful, and on time. This was the first delay ever.
Other passengers are usually quiet and courteous with the exception of the occasional youngster in a stroller unhappy with the world and voicing it. Passengers always shift if others with special needs enter the bus. Night service is not particularly useful to me, but having saved the estimated $6,000 a year needed to operate a vehicle, I can use a taxi or get a ride from a friend and provide money for petrol. Using public transit service, I’m reducing my carbon footprint and enjoying association with fellow citizens and sometimes a friendly chat.
The bus stand is less than five minutes from my house and my $32 monthly bus pass is worn out by month’s end. And having used bus service all over the world, I’ve experienced an extraordinary phenomenon here in Penticton. Nearly everyone — oldand young — calls out “thank you” when they exit the bus and the driver says, “you’re welcome.” There’s Canada’s vaunted courtesy in a nutshell.
Do pick up a bus schedule, leave your vehicle parked one day, and take a ride on a bus. You might even have a driver named Bob with a ready smile and welcoming service.