Public transportation fun

Calgary’s transit system is something we love to hate as the default choice for anyone who lives farther than walking-distance from the university or who doesn’t want to pay a few dollars a day for parking.

As someone new to the university, you may have encountered the scheduling system of doom used to drop you into classes with four-hour breaks in between. You’ll find great comfort knowing that the system transit uses sucks even more.

Every morning rush hour (defined precisely as the time between when you don’t want to commute because you’re sleeping, and when you don’t want to commute because you’ll arrive two hours early), the transit system comes to life, following a schedule of suggested arrival and departure times, which you turn into the one bus drivers use by taking the cubed root of the median interval between buses and thrice waving a dead chicken at Polaris.

If you manage to catch a bus, you’ll be greeted by either a nearly empty bus of yuppies who need an entire seat for their PDA and want nothing to do with a college punk such as yourself, or a bus full of junior high kiddies groping themselves and the cat lady.

Those lucky enough to live in areas served by feeder buses will get the full transit experience as you ride the C-Train with hundreds of other happy commuters who hate you because you have a backpack and occupy valuable germ-infested hand-rail space. Studying, or doing anything productive, is out of the question. Your overly-huge binder, text book, pen or eyelash will intrude into the perfectly micro-managed personal space of another commuter who is self-validated by chastising people like you before an audience of tired, non-caring yuppies.

Living in Northeast Calgary means transferring between the two C-Train lines unless you catch one of the two weekday trips between Whitehorn and the university. After watching the Brentwood train in front of yours pick up the previous batch of North-Easterners, you’ll wait anywhere from one to 15 minutes for the next train from the South. In its spare time, it seems that Calgary Transit solved the optimal scheduling problem, and implemented something completely opposite to the best solution, almost forcing you to leave early.

Fortunately, the exercise repeats during the afternoon rush hour so you’ll have plenty of practice in the art of not strangling other passengers while simultaneously protecting your wallet, purse, cell phone and dignity.

All that, of course, assuming your timetable lets you arrive and leave during rush hour, and that not a single flake of snow has hit the ground within a 300 km radius in the past 24 hours. Snow or lack of commuters each cause random buses to disappear from the roads, or to huddle together for comfort so all the buses on a single route arrive two minutes apart. On a snowy weekend, bet on all the buses making both their morning and afternoon runs simultaneously, as there are no rush hours to relieve the constipated system.

Starting this year, full-time students are forced to pay to use the lovely transit system for "free." Every day, the bus driver will spend an extra five seconds and several neurons comprehending that you are using a U-Pass, checking the expiry date, and admiring your lovely mug shot on the id card. $50 per term gets you a neat ID card sticker, which you can pick up at the Campus Ticket Centre, Campus Security, the Dining Centre and the Health Sciences Bookstore after registering.

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