Friday, 5 September 2008

My Green Diary II

Nice propaganda on the back of the bus. I buy the idea. 80 people go to work in 53 cars. Or just one bus.
As it is, I can't afford to spend 5 hours commuting to and from work.

On Nov 17, 2007, I wrote my first Green Diary.

So, I tried to be green again today. OK, I was "forced" to be green today 'cos my car broke down on the Penang Bridge yesterday. So, here's the dairy.

6.15 am - wake up, brush teeth, shave.

6.20 am - went downstairs (yah, you noticed the time). Noticed the broadband still on, so checked email. Replied to a couple.

6.30 am - had breakfast with my wife. Muesli (brought back from Adelaide) with cold milk and coffee with milk, no sugar.

6.45 am - did my usual "business"

6.50 am - watched a bit of BBC News

7.02 am - left the house with my wife and daughter, picked up a passenger. Dropped off the kids at school.

7.32 am - wife dropped me at the Megamall RapidPenang bus station. Enquired with two gentlemen about taking the bus to USM. They happened to work for RapidPenang. I found I should take either 704 or 705. So I sat down to wait. There is no bus schedule placed anywhere at the bus station.

8.00 am - got bored of waiting. Tried to stopped the negative thoughts (like you know "stupid bus company .." etc) by taking out the book on "CitiesPeoplePlanet" by Herbert Girardet. Quite an engaging book on sustainable cities (what else).

8.28 am - wife called "where are you". I laughed. Still waiting. I asked her to check for the schedule. She calls back and says there is one at 8.50 am. So OK, not too bad.

8.58 am - still no bus. But wait, what about that other bus that just drove in on the opposite lane. I walked out to check the bus number. Hey its 705! Damn, why is the bus on the other side when all the passengers are waiting on this side (ehmm there were only about 5 or 6 people waiting). So I walked over. But the bus driver said "lama lagi" (still a long time to go). When? we asked. 9.30 am, the driver replied. What happened to the 8.50?

9.30 am - on the dot, the bus left. In the meanwhile, the bus air-con and engine was on the whole time. Bus fare to USM RM2.50.

Took us about 10 minutes to get to the Bridge toll plaza. No special lane. Maybe that's why they don't operate during the crazy peak hour. Driver paid with prepaid card but seated too high to touch the device.

Traffic on the bridge still heavy but moving smoothly except for short standstill near the mid-span.

It started to rain. My wife called. Hey, I am on the bus. Did you bring the umbrella. Yes, I did.

This is the sign I see almost everyday. Yet I couldn't remember the number when I needed it most. Maybe its the way it is presented. Try 1-300-1-300-03

10.00 am - dropped off at the Sg Dua bus stand.

Total time to get to work? 7.00 am to 10 am - 4 hours!! (Oops, my wife tells me my maths is very poor. That's 3 hours in case you missed it.)

Then I walked to HBP. Read the newspaper at the lounge. A couple of the younger lecturers stopped to chat about APEX U and plastic bags. And then Hassim came and we talked about RapidPenang. Apparently the buses are now equipped with GPS so customers can call up their control centre to find out where the bus is. I can imagine the nightmare of trying to get through to the call center. I suggested to Hassim who is a transportation planner that may be we can work with RapidPenang to target USM staff - study their trip patterns, where they stay and organise daily trips to transport staff to and from work; bring the RapidPenang buses into the campus. OK Hassim, waiting for your working paper. I think it would be fitting with our APEX U status to work to reduce our carbon emissions from work-related travel.

Later I checked the RapidPenang website to look at the schedule. There's supposed to be buses from Megamall at 6.00 am (the notice on the bus says buses start at 6.30 am), 7.00 am, 8.50 am and 9.30 am and then 12 noon and so on. OK, I guess the route is not very popular (there were only 6 of us on the bus). But now you see why it is fruitless to even check the schedule ahead of time?

Now, the schedule says there should be a bus coming from Bayan Baru at 15.45. Can I trust that?

Its 15.28 now. Come back for more!

Continuing the diary at 9.08 pm, at home. Martin Yan yakking and frying away on TV.

OK, going to back track a little:

11.00 am (or there abouts) - still drizzling. Started walking back to my other office. Decided to walk to the Durian Valley because I had received reports of illegal dumping of construction debris. No one was there but evidence clearly there. Sigh. I accidentally bumped into a similar activity in 2005. Guess these constractors are always trying to make a quick buck. Going to have to report it to the higher authorities. The last time I did that, they send the "cops", actually our security guards, to interview me as though I was the one who had violated the law.

Walking in the rain is fun.

Notice the double-yellow line? Yes, we have too many cars on campus.

The bus which circulates around campus spewing out lots of fumes.
Abe told me that USM is buying 6 more buses. Me? I want to get rid of them.

11.40 am - got back to the Kampus Sejahtera office slightly sweating. Abe came in to chat. And then Mervin. So the three of us set off to our lunch appointment at the Red House with Kah Hing to talk about the student-organised Environmental Conference and Plastic Forum to be held on 10th Oct and 1st Nov. More of that later.

12.00 noon - lunch, strategy meeting, pacifying ... apparently, one or two of the volunteers needed a heart-to-heart talk; hope I am not stressing them out with too high expectations.

1.30 pm or so - back in office; continued to chat with Abe.

2.00 pm start blogging - that's what you read way up there.

3.30 pm - decided I couldn't depend on the RapidPenang schedule so headed for the Minden Gate instead. More buses heading for the Jetty.

3.45 pm - reached the bus stop but a bus zoomed by. Damn.

3.46 pm - bus 301 arrived. Is this the bus to the Jetty? Yes. The lighted sign is readable from far. Fare RM1.50. Quite crowded. The bus goes through Jelutong, Jalan Sungei Pinang, then Komtar and ...

4.15 pm - arrived at the Jetty.

4.35 pm - Ferry finally arrives.

4.55 pm - Ferry docks in Butterworth and I walked to the brand new temporary Penang Sentral where RapidPenang hangs out.

5.01 pm - waiting for RapidPenang bus for Air Tawar. There is no notice board or schedule anywhere.

5.16 pm - got fed up of waiting. Went to the window which says "Information". No it is not a RapidPenang counter but yes she can help. So when's the next bus to Air Tawar. She checks. There should have been one at 5.15 (but where is it?). The next one? 5.45 pm. I'm not waiting. Is the old bus company still operating. Yes, on the other side.

So I walked over, hunted for the UTC bus in the mess of long distance buses, puddles ... Got on the bus which says "Kuala Muda". Fare RM1.20. No air-con, old, a little dirty and crowded.

5.45 pm - got off the bus on the main road.

6.00 pm or so - Hi, honey I'm home. My wife had just got home and was already putting the soup to boil. Total travel time 2 and half hours.

OK, I hear your question. Why do you live so far from your place of work in the first place? Good question. Come back some other time for the answers.

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