Traveler Spotlight

Meg Johnson

Occupation: Special Events SpecialistWoman standing waiting at bus stop

How do you usually get to work? How long have you been using this travel option?

I get to work by bus. Although it’s a wonderful way not to have to drive my personal vehicle downtown (or pay $6 to park in the employee lot), I take the bus because of the community aspect. I like sitting on the same bus every day and seeing the same people come and go at their stops, getting a little window into their lives (and being a part of theirs). There is none of that in my own car, driving alone.

How long have you been using this commute option? 

For the duration of my employment with the city – just over 3 months.

How far is your commute? How long does it take you each way?

My commute is just over 10 miles one way. I take two bus routes (the #72 and The Fourth Plain Vine); mornings take a little over 45 minutes, evenings take about an hour.

What is your favorite thing about your commute? 

How much I get to read! I’ve finished 5 books (fast approaching 6) within the 3 months I’ve been commuting by bus. I no longer must carve out another part of my day to dedicate to reading; my commute has become my reading time.

What is a challenge of your commute? How have you overcome that challenge?

Sometimes the timings for the buses don’t work out. One of my bus routes going back home shifts from being every 30 minutes to being every hour. I know that when I get to the transit station late, I’ll be getting home late. However, it gives me even more time to read, so I usually don’t mind too much.

Tell us a favorite or interesting commute story.

There is a family of 5 that rides my morning bus with me every day I commute downtown. It’s a mom and her four kids, ages 2 to 10. They call me “Book Lady” when I get on and always say hi.

One day when I was getting on the bus, I see this family and realize that they’ve all had haircuts – chic new styles for the start of the school year. We talked the entire ride until their stop about why they chose the cuts they did, referencing TV actors I had to look up later from their kids programming. It was a wonderful experience to chat with them about their style, their approach to the new school year. Basically, it was *THE* dream extrovert interaction.

How does your commute help you save time and/or money?

As mentioned earlier, I no longer must pay the $6 parking fee to have my car in the lot across from city hall while I work – saving $120 per month. I’ve also only bought one tank of gas for my car in the 3-months I’ve worked for the city, which is a massive change in budget. I used to buy a tank a week before switching over – a little over $300 a month in savings. My time on the bus reading is worth $400+ a month.

How does your employer help accommodate your commute option?

The City of Vancouver has the Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) Benefit which both gives me a free HOP card to get onto any C-Tran bus in Clark County as well as the $5 daily employee commute stipend bonus (each day you take a mode of transit that isn’t just driving in a car alone, you get $5). I was already going to commute by bus when I work in the office but the employer-provided benefit of free transit PLUS a daily stipend is above and beyond to encourage this transit option for me.

Do you have any advice for someone looking to use a climate-friendly commute option?

Be curious! Give it a try! Commuting by public transit shows just how important these systems are to our community, to our policymakers, and to ourselves. Driving in your own car doesn’t have to be the only way to get from place to place. A lot of folks have this preconceived notion about what a “bus rider” is, and there’s typically a lot of judgment and classism with those notions. The only way to have a more robust public transit system in our community is to use it. Even if it’s just once a week, it makes a huge impact.