While waiting for the bus in the shelter near Walmart, Frankie offered me a Nutter Butter cookie. He also offered cookies to the other riders sitting with us. Folks were chatting and sharing stories. It felt like a community gathering spot, where everyone was familiar with each other and shared the latest news. We had a few minutes before the bus was scheduled to arrive, so I asked Frankie to tell me his story.
Frankie lived in California where he got to know the public transit systems in several cities. When asked how Island Transit compares with all the others, he grinned and said, “It doesn’t cost anything.” He’s currently riding the bus because his truck is in the shop and he doesn’t have the money to fix it. In addition, the price of gas is skyrocketing, which makes Island Transit’s fare-free bus service especially appealing.
Frankie has been taking the bus for almost a decade, since he moved to Whidbey to be closer to his family. He’s not a daily commuter but takes it two or three times a week to run errands, go shopping, and meet up with friends. Frankie has also made a few new friends riding the bus, “and the bus drivers are always cool.”
He frequents the Route 1 which runs near his house. That makes it simple. He usually doesn’t have to switch buses to get where he needs to go, and the Route 1 runs more often than the other routes, even on Saturday.
“It’s a whole lot safer to take the bus than to drive, especially in the winter,” Frankie added.
Frankie noted that he is disabled and prefers taking public transit, even though he owns a truck. “It’s easier, safer and it’s cheaper!” We discussed the Island Transit survey and what potential new services he’d like to see implemented. “Sunday service – so I could get to church. That’s important to me.”
As we boarded the bus, he told the driver where he was headed, then he sat down and visited with the other riders. He offered some a Nutter Butter.