Thursday, May 24, 2007

Making the Most of the 62-Bus Ride

First of all, a correction to my original post. There are 62 local buses in Houston, not 61. I grouped buses 26/27 together. If you look at a map, they're pretty much the same line. They go around in a circle around downtown. Bus 27 goes clockwise and bus 26 goes counterclockwise. But, they have different numbers, so I'll consider them different lines.

I think the biggest question I get asked about riding every bus in Houston is "why?" I think the biggest reason is: adventure. It's the same reason that someone would drive 3 days cross-country when they could of just taken a 5-hour flight. It's the same reason you can't help but slow down to look at a car crash. It's a break from the ordinary. With every adventure comes a story; a story you can tell others. A story you can tell your friends and family. I mean, what is my alternative? Spending all day making copies and staring at a computer screen? Besides, I never give up a chance to promote public transportation. You can ask any of my co-workers that and they would tell you the same thing!

But is this enough? I think so. But, if this adventure ends up getting press, I'm going to try to do something charitable. I would seem like a waste not to. I'm a good person, after all! Yesterday METRO released a news article that 10 of their mechanics were putting away $3 of each of their paychecks into a fund to buy bicycles for Houston's Fifth Ward kids for Christmas. Last year they managed to buy 58 bicycles. This year they are hoping to buy 500 bikes with help of donors. I think this is an amazingly worthwhile cause. What I'm going to do is try to set up a way to accept pledges to go towards this fund, where people can pledge a per-bus donation for my big trip, then an optional bonus if I can finish the entire thing. This way, even if I don't make it, I will still raise money for charity. Every dollar I collect will go towards buying those kids these bikes. They will compliment all the new bike racks that METRO is putting on their buses quite nicely.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Houston buses

In case you aren't monitoring the comments for posts that were written 6 months ago, I thought I would clue you in on a recent development. Yesterday I got a new comment on this post

I have inspired someone else!!! Fellow is going to attempt to ride all 61 local buses in Houston. Follow the link for more information.

It's almost enough to make me want to go down to Houston to ride with him :-). And just think of how many counties I could pick up travelling down there!!

I had considered doing something similar in Cincinnati but shelved the idea. The problem is that just about every bus in Cincinnati goes from downtown to somewhere. There are only a few (51, 41, and probably a few others that I can't think of off the top of my head) that are more of "cross-town" buses. So that's not really a problem for completing the route - actually it would make it pretty easy. All you'd need to do (for the most part) is just get on and off various buses downtown, which just didn't seem as "cool" as some of the other things I had come up with. A larger city with more buses (Chicago and New York to name 2) I think would be a worthwhile challenge. Still maybe this will inspire me to come up with a good route for Cincinnati.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Cuyahoga Libraries

Did you ever think that there could me MORE library posts?!!?

When I was out driving to Chicago for the second time, I got calls from various family members along the way. That would be mostly due to the fact that it was my birthday. I appreciated the well-wishes, but while talking to my step-dad, he was mentioning how he had seen my post about visiting every library in Hamilton County, and wondered what the possibilities would be for doing every library in Cuyahoga County.

This has spent some time being tickled about in the back of my mind, but I got some time the other day to work it out.

Unfortunately, I don't have my system quite completely automated (though it's automated enough that it does take a lot of the grunt work out of doing things). One of my problems is that the program that I have (that I downloaded) only finds the shortest solution for a closed loop (i.e. starting and ending at the same place). That's not quite what we're going for here, so I have to manually pick the starting and ending points. I try to do that logically and I pick out several different start/end points and run the program, and take the one with the shortest distance.

There's a map of the shortest route that I was able to find, 109.7 miles. No matter where else I started or ended, I couldn't find anything better. Most of the ones I checked were in the low 110s, so this is probably pretty close if not the fastest.

A few notes: From looking at the map, it seems like ending North Olmsted, Fairview, Bay would not be faster than ending N.O., Bay, Fairview, but comparing the distances is 10.7 for the first (4.2 from N.O.-Fairview and 6.5 for Fairview-Bay) and 11.7 for the second (5.2 for N.O.-Bay and again, 6.5 for Fairview-Bay)

Unlike the Cincinnati libraries, which seem to have variable start-end days by branch, all of the Cuyahoga libraries have hours from 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Monday-Thursday. So that gives a full 12 hours to do the ride, which seems doable (though not by much if at all). That's in contrast to Cincinnati, which has a shortest distance of 121 miles (for 42 libraries) and only 9 hours to do it (due to the different branch open and close times)

The only exception to those hours is the Richmond library, which has hours of 10-6. So that would require doing this route starting at Gates Mills, but even so, you'd probably still have to wait for Richmond to open at 10, since the first 2 legs (Gates Mills-Mayfield and Mayfield-Richmond) are only 4.8 and 2.1 miles (i.e. they would probably take you less than an hour, even considering book-checking out times). So logistically, it may be better to choose a slightly longer distance that would put Richmond further than 3rd. Though when you're riding 110 miles, you don't want to put TOO many more on there :-)

We shall see if this becomes a reality. One problem is that it would require a day of vacation (at least - possibly 2 to recover). I think maybe a Thursday ride would be the best option, with a long weekend to recover. Do I hear Thursday, July 3, 2008??