“It’s a joy to ride but I know joy-riding is not allowed,” says Alexandria.
Spoken like a veteran bus rider. Riding non-stop all day is not allowed. But this is different.
Alexandria first saw the bus at 17 and said to herself, “I need to do that.” She jokes that it was Island Transit’s second day of service, over 30 years ago. She’s been using the bus ever since.
Alexandria lives near the southern-most point of Whidbey Island at Scatchet Head. The bus comes to her neighborhood at 5:17 a.m. and 5:57 a.m. to take commuters to the ferry. It doesn’t come back until 5:40 p.m.
Alexandria works in Langley which is still fast asleep at 6 a.m. She doesn’t start work until 9:30 a.m. So she catches the Route 58 bus from Scatchet Head to the ferry. Then she switches to the Route 1 and rides to Oak Harbor and back. “I don’t mind. I like riding the bus.” She talks with the driver and other passengers. She’s made a lot of friends on her morning rides.
In Oak Harbor, she gets off at Harbor Station and walks to Smith Park. Or she walks the waterfront trail back to Walmart to catch the next bus south. Or, if it’s cold and wet, she walks around inside Walmart or Safeway. Sometimes she’ll get a bite to eat at Wendy’s. Occasionally, she gets off and walks around Coupeville. Even though most of the businesses are closed, she loves Coupeville and enjoys window shopping. Sometimes she gets a cup of cocoa at the Tyee or does some shopping at Prairie Center.
She meets people on her walks to the bus before and after work. She’s taught people how to use the bus and carries extra bus schedules to share. Once in 2020, there were three boys in Langley who asked her, “Do you know where we can find some masks?” She pointed to the bus shelter on Anthes Street and said a bus would arrive in two minutes. “There are free masks on the bus. You could ask the driver for some.”
Once, for the heck of it, she went from Scatchet Head to Camano and back in a day. She made her plan and called Island Transit to make sure it was feasible. They checked and said, yes. She took 11 buses with a scenic trip around the west side of Camano looking back at Whidbey. “It was a fun day.”
In her many years using transit she has seen changes in bus service. “We used to get more service at Scatchet Head.” She has kept abreast of the proposed future changes and looks forward to On-Demand service to her neighborhood. It’s being tested in the area northeast of Oak Harbor now and may soon expand to the south end. “Then you can find out exactly where and when people need the bus and adjust your schedule accordingly.” Until then, Alexandria will enjoy the ride, but no, she’s not joy-riding.