As I waited for the Edmond Express bus to arrive at N University Drive and E Ayers in Edmond on Tuesday morning it became apparent that for bus commuters patience is not a virtue. It is a necessity. It was well past 9 a.m. and the Edmond Express that would take me to the downtown Oklahoma City transit center was already more than 10 minutes late. I was fumed. The bus commute to work was prompted by an assignment to check out alternative commuting possibilities as the price of gasoline inches toward $4 a gallon. My journey began at 8:21 a.m. at the Wal-Mart on the far west side of Edmond where I caught the "Eddy,” a bus that circulates between Wal-Mart and the University of Central Oklahoma stop every 30 minutes. The Eddy delivered me to the University stop at 8:37 at a cost of 50 cents. Only one other rider had boarded. So, I waited at the bus shelter across from UCO for the 8:47 express bus and tried to read the newspaper brought along for the down time. However, clock watching and bus anticipating were too distracting. When 8:47 came and went with no bus, I put down the newspaper and went on full alert. Standing next to me was Isaac Denman, a 24-year-old UCO student who showed none of the impatience I displayed. He was waiting for the bus that would take him back to Oklahoma City after an 8 a.m. class. Denman obviously had been more bus savvy than I and read his newspaper without any signs of anxiety. The bus often arrives after its appointed time or even before, he said. "Sometimes they will come by 8:40 or 8:45 and if you are late even one minute you miss it,” he said. "Other times you will stay here for a long time before they show up.” At 9:06, I could take it no longer and called the Metro Transit number displayed in the bus shelter and asked the woman who answered if she could find out how much longer we would have to wait. She put me on hold just as our bus turned the corner to the stop. Denman and I were the only two people to board the Edmond Express, on which one other rider already was seated. Fare was $2.25, with a free bus transfer ticket. We rode to downtown Oklahoma City in silence, arriving only five minutes late at 9:35. As I exited to change buses at the Transit Center I asked bus driver Ronnie Collins if he had seen any increase in ridership in the wake of the dramatic rise in gasoline prices.
It still doesn't register"No, it won't register until it hits $4 (a gallon),” Collins said. "At $4 you will see an increase. Most people in Edmond have a very comfortable income and nothing deters them. They (are) still driving those Expeditions and Suburbans, and I'm thinking ‘wow.' "But at $4, you will see more people riding the bus.” However, the story was different on Bus 18 that makes a loop from downtown to Lincoln Boulevard, over to Kelley Avenue and up to Britton Road. There were 14 people onboard the bus when it pulled out of the Transit Center, and three more boarded before it got to the Capitol. Most exited somewhere along Lincoln Boulevard as the bus headed north. A few seconds after the bus turned west on Britton Road, I pulled the cord that prompted the driver to stop outside the north entrance to The Oklahoman. It was 10:31 a.m. when I exited the bus. The journey to work cost $2.75 and had taken two hours and 10 minutes on three buses. My normal commute of seven miles takes about 15 minutes. But it's good to know that there is an alternative that requires only time and a certain amount of patience.