For the better part of 13 years, I worked from home. Prior to that I had worked for a company that had an exercise room complete with showers so I would brave the Knoxville roads of Gleason and Dean Hill without sidewalks or even shoulders and ride my bike to work. It wasn’t terribly long lived but biking was certainly an option. In January 2010, I took a six week contract locally which required me to be in an office downtown. After purchasing a wardrobe, I began commuting from Rocky Hill to the campus area of Knoxville. I considered the KAT, k-trans, the Knoxville busing system but KAT had recently removed the route that came within a half mile of my house. To get to a bus stop, I’d have to walk an hour (3 miles) with half that distance having no sidewalks or shoulders. Knoxville is extremely unfriendly to bicycles and pedestrians.
Our cars all died. Over the years we have gone from a multicar family to a single car family then burst to a three car family and are now back down to one functioning vehicle with three dead vehicles (plus one dead motorcycle).
Yesterday, I was supposed to take the van to the wife during lunch and she would return me to work. Instead I brought it to her just before her appointment and my daughter’s activity. She implored me just to drive back to work and she’d make phone calls to find a way home. Instead, I picked up a bus schedule, scrounged a dollar bill, four dimes, a nickel, and five pennies, and within minutes I was sitting on a KAT bus. For the record, buses will accept more money than the fare ($1.50) but gives change as bus credit so a $5 bill gets you 3.3 rides and they don’t take credit cards. I asked the driver instructions on how to depart the bus near my destination and she to me when I should pull the cord (which rings the driver). The ride was comfortable and relaxing. The other riders were sane and only toward the end of the trip did two passengers come in stinking of cigarette smoke. Twenty minutes later I was departing the bus. KAT only drops passengers at official stops so I found myself with a bit of a hike to get to the office. The walk was 10 minutes. $1.50 and thirty minutes traveled me from West Knoxville to campus without the wear and tear, gas, or tension of driving my own car.
Overall, I have not been on a KAT bus in over a decade or two and believed that it just wasn’t a viable means of transportation due to lack of stops and infrequency of pickups but I found that the commute wasn’t much different than driving myself. If anything, I may become a commuter who drives to the mall then rides the bus downtown. Hopefully KAT will extend a route down Northshore and the bus will become an even more viable option.