The best bus ever

The best bus ever
Jason Sievers' awesome Art in Transit bus

Monday, May 21, 2007

Getting to the grocery store

Via a post at Daily Kos, I learned about how U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan and several others from the House Hunger Caucus recently took part in a food stamp challenge. On his blog, Ryan described the challenges of trying to eat on a mere $21 a week.

What does this have to do with public transportation? Take it from Ryan:

As several people have mentioned it the comments, a problem faced many across the country, especially the inner-city poor, are the lack of low-cost food stores in an easily accessible area. These people can’t afford to drive to a Wal-Mart in the suburbs for the bargains; they aren’t members of the warehouse club stores. If you are constrained to where you can walk or take public transportation, then you can only shop at the places in your neighborhood, and you are forced to pay whatever they charge. That is EXACTLY what I was doing. I had the option to head out to Costco or Shoppers and decided instead to replicate as close as possible the REAL experience of someone who can't afford a car and is constrained by public transportation.

Here in Boise, we are blessed to be compact enough that most of our lower-income folks live within walking distance or a bus ride of a supermarket. However, as I've said many times before, bus riders must time their trips carefully so they can catch one of the buses that run only once an hour in most of the city, and not at all in the evenings or on Sundays. As for Costco, it's a reasonable hike from the nearest bus stop at Overland and Cole Road, but the quantities sold there make it impractical for shopping with anything less than a vehicle, anyway.


wolf21m said...

I am lucky enough to have my grocery store about 6 blocks from my house. This enables a walk for most things. For other items I have tried the bus shopping approach. Yes, it is stressful to get there, get everything done, and get back to the bus stop in time so I don't have to wait another hour. Definitely takes planning, but so far I've made it work. I can't believe running my life that way all of the time.

Julie in Boise said...

I'm luckier still, with an Albertsons a mere three blocks away. I walk there most of the time, saving the car for really bulky orders. (If I could give up drinking Diet Coke, I would probably never drive there!)

Kudos to you, wolf21, for using your feet for most trips and the bus for some of your grocery runs.

nl said...

As a transit guy in Seattle, which getting to grocery stores here by transit is easy, because we have buses everywhere, I have found one thing truly helpful and that is not using plastic bags the stores use. I use the type that are earth friendly and have decent handles and are very packable. This makes my bus commute much better.

nl said...

Also, I have a membership to Costco, and being in the land of Costco here in Seattle, one thing is a must and that is a car. Costco is simply not transit friendly. My bags don't cut it either really. Does Boise have Flexcar? If so, that is an excellent option.