Blog by guest blogger Eva Roberts-Vazquez
How many people can say they are lucky when they find themselves without a vehicle? In June of 2016, when my '99 Ford Taurus needed repairs that didn't make sense to pay for, I cashed it in at the going rate for scrap metal. And I was lucky! I was lucky because: I live just a few miles from my job so I can take the public bus or a taxi, and because one of my work friends carpooled me to work twice a week. I'm also lucky that I could bike and walk to and from work.
Good people sometimes let me use their cars! Friends and neighbors would see me out and about and offer to give me a lift. Sometimes a friend would offer to let me tag along for a trip to the beach or to ride shotgun so I could just get out of town. Once I rented a car to go to a family event in Nassau County and once to the Car-Less LI First Annual Fashion Bike parade held at Hofstra University. Sometimes I took a cab to the train station and then to NYC and beyond. The S92 took me to the Orient Point Ferry and from there I took buses to Maine.
I was quite fortunate that our very own UUCSF is right on the S92 bus route which runs on Sundays! And that our congregation started a green initiative and so I was introduced to Jeanne and now we frequently carpool together.
Others at UUCSF carpool as well. Kent and his daughter carpool with Tom, and sometimes I catch a ride with them to Hampton Bays. Sometimes Tom Murphy carpools with Ken Ettlinger. Many other UU members and friends have helped to keep me and others mobile, and connected to UU-related events and activities.
Some aspects of being without my own car were challenging. Though it‘s not legal to ride on sidewalks, I will confess to riding my bicycle on sidewalks when I felt I would be taking my life in my hands by staying on the street. And yes, not having a car at the ready was wearing at me, being unable to go to social events easily, especially in the evenings and weekends. One other area of hardship was getting to and from appointments, and sometimes I took a $12 cab to the doctor’s.
In September of 2017, just over a year after giving up my car, I finally relented and bought an SUV. Yes, I have increased my carbon footprint (and my expenses.) But now when I carpool I can be the driver sometimes. And I still take the bus when feasible. Let's all look at ways to reduce the amount of pollution we generate. Can we carpool more? Can we bicycle or take the bus more? Pamela and Carl have biked from Sag Harbor to Sunday service. Let's reach out to each other and to our elected reps to promote the use of ride sharing, the use of the public bus, and making the roads safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. Social connection is good for whatever you want to call it... the spirit, the soul, or just a feeling of well-being for us humans.
Addendum: Many people just need some help with figuring out the public bus schedule, and it helps to have someone to ride with at least the first time.
For more info about Suffolk County Transit Information Services call 631-852-5200 M-F 8-4:30. You can get large print and regular print schedules by calling that number, or go to the website: www.sct-bus.org.
The bus costs $2.25, plus 25 cents for a transfer. Student fare is $1.25, ages 14-22, high school/college ID required. Reduced Fare 75 cents: Seniors (over 60), Persons with Disabilities Medicare card holder and Suffolk County Veterans. Persons with valid, municipally-issued cards identifying them as at least 60 years old, or having a mental or physical disability may ride for reduced one-way fare. A valid Medicare card is also accepted as ID. For Disability ID call Suffolk County Office of People with Disabilities 631-853-8333; for Seniors ID call 631-853-8200; Hearing impaired call 631-853-5658
If you are unable to take the public bus due to mental or physical disability, but need a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you can apply for Suffolk County Accessible Transportation (SCAT) which provides door-to-door service. However, it costs $4 each way. For more info about SCAT, call 631-853-8333.
Another tip: Always get the number for the dispatcher, not just for Suffolk County Transit. Different companies run different routes and you won’t be able to check what's happening with the bus when Suffolk County Transit is closed in the evening or on the weekend.
Eva June Roberts-Vazquez