Traverse City Record-Eagle

the BIZ

May 21, 2014

Glenn Puit: Riding the Benzie Bus from T-ville

The car made a not-so-funny noise, then another.

It was a very busy Friday afternoon when I pulled the vehicle into the Market Basket parking lot with an overwhelming sense of dread upon me. The timing belt was failing at a terrible time, leaving me all alone on the cold hard streets of Beulah.

My ordeal was just beginning, though.

I would spend the next two weeks riding public transit from my house in Thompsonville to my job in Traverse City. The exhausting, exasperating, eye-opening experience on the Benzie Bus is the reason for this column.

Before I go any further, a full disclaimer: I’m a public transit supporter. I’m also a fan of the Benzie Bus and its employees. The rural public transit provider gave about 90,000 rides last year to people who, like me, needed to get to and from work, doctor appointments or the grocery store. This is not a Benzie Bus is bad column. It is instead a Benzie Bus is really great but can do better column.

What I found navigating my way through the public transit system was astonishing. To get to my job at the Record-Eagle for a 9 a.m. start time in Traverse City, I had to get on the Benzie Bus in Thompsonville at 5:55 a.m.

No, that’s not a misprint.

I’ll repeat. In order to traverse to Traverse, I had to get on the bus three hours early for what is normally a 35-minute drive in my car. The ride home wasn’t any better, or quicker. I’d leave work early to get on the 4:30 p.m. Bay Area Transportation Authority bus to connect with the Benzie Bus in Interlochen. The Benzie Bus then headed not to T-ville but from Interlochen to Honor, then Beulah, then Benzonia, then not to T-ville but to Benzie Central schools to pick up kids, then not to T-ville but to each kid’s individual home to drop them off at their doorsteps, then to M-115, and, finally to Thompsonville at around 7:40 p.m.

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