Stranded in Suburbia
Most of us have taken the No. 2 and E train or ridden the Metro-North, but how about our county’s own Bee-Line? Growing up in Westchester, I have never used public transportation. Neither have any of my friends. So, in the interest of public service—and frankly, plain old curiosity—I decided to test our system. For one day.
Warning: it’s not a pretty picture.
The Trip to Work
Thanks to Google, I learn there’s a Bee-Line site and a few bus stops in Armonk, but the site is a mess. I call up Bee-Line’s hotline. The operator tells me to take the 12 line and transfer to the 14, but when I ask if the bus stopped on Main Street, she is flummoxed.
“There’s no Main Street in Armonk,” she says
“No Main Street in Armonk?” I gasp. “I live here. I promise you, there’s a Main Street. Does the bus stop there?”
Click. She hangs up.
I call back and learn the No. 12 stops at King Street, five miles away, at roughly 9:30 a.m. I say roughly because there’s no precise time schedule for the buses. Since the only way to get to King Street without a car would be to walk, and the long, winding roads of Armonk are dangerous, I have to cab it. Armonk Limo, the closest thing to a taxi in town, says the five-mile ride will cost $30(!) I try to find a cheaper ride. Several cab services in close-by Mt. Kisco will take me for $25, explaining that “crossing town borders” added an automatic $12. My knight-in-yellow-armor arrives at 9:12 and drops me at the stop at 9:23. Cost: $27 (fare and tip).
No one else is at the bus stop.
I hear a slow, telltale rumbling in the distance. HOORAY, THE BUS HAS COME! Cost: $2 (Quarters only; Metrocards accepted). There are only two other riders.
“I’m no less than ten minutes late on a regular basis,” the bus driver says. “It’s been going on for years and years. I have to wait for bus 15 from Peekskill before I can depart, and that bus is regularly late. “
The bus drops me off at White Plains Trans Center to catch the No. 14, scheduled for 11:15.
“This bus only comes once an hour,” says Doug Brown of White Plains, a Bee-Line rider. “It sucks.”
A few feet away, Michele Murray and Melissa Pagett, regular Bee-Line passengers, are gathering signatures for a petition campaigning for additional buses on the 15 line. “It only runs once every two hours, and three times on Saturdays, and not at all on Sundays,” complains Pagett. “We’re gotten about half of the three-hundred signatures it takes just to propose the idea to the MTA.”
The 14 bus arrives. Cost: free (transfer).
I make it to work—almost three hours late.
I have a luncheon date with my aunt and little cousin at Sabatino’s Coal Brick Oven in Hawthorne. The pizza place is less than a mile from the office.
I wait at the stop for bus 14, which arrives only two minutes late (at 1:35). It is more than half full and drops me off at the Bellmont Avenue stop 10 minutes later, at 1:45. They’d been waiting for me for ten minutes. Cost: $2.
I walk to the bus stop to head back toward the office. The bus is scheduled to arrive at 2:50. I wait.
The bus arrives (25 minutes late) and drops me off by the office at 3:27. Cost: free (transfer)
Exhausted, I finally resume my workday.
The Trip Back Home
The 14 bus is much more punctual in the evening, arriving at 5:21, just two minutes late, and pulls into the Trans Center just before 6, giving me a little cushion time before the evening’s last No. 12 toward Armonk is scheduled to pull in. Cost: $2.
The 6:10, arriving on time, is less than half full. The bus driver had worked for the Bee-Line for 15 years, and grumbled about everything from the inefficiency of the bus company to the unsafe conditions of some of the routes later at night.
I reach Main Street in Armonk at 7 (Cost: free) and walk to the nearby Food Emporium for a quick grocery pit-stop. My cab arrives at 7:35 for my two-and-a-half-mile ride. The driver explained that my taxi fare from earlier that day had probably been more expensive because I’d traveled to a farther out part of town. Bah, we all know how enormous Armonk is, right folks? Cost: $25
I get home at 7:45—not a minute too soon!
That’s the amount of time I spent either waiting for or taking public transport that day.
That’s how many dollars I spent to travel five hours to and from work. The numbers speak for themselves—check out our chart for a side-by-side comparison.
No wonder no one I know takes the Bee Line. What a drag!
Got any public transportation gripes, cheers, or stories of your own to share? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.