Bus in the US = B.U.S.

If the bus can be on schedule, commuting between my house and Princeton is in fact very convenient.

It’s 18:20. I’m waiting for my COACH. No, not a person who teaches me how to play sports. I’m not a sports guy, anyway. I’m waiting for a suburban transit bus from the Coach USA bus company.

Here comes a bus. What does it say on the banner? It starts with “E” … “E” what? Hmm… it’s “Equad Line”.  And the bus is orange. Then, this is a Princeton campus bus, not the one I’m waiting for. Next one.

Another huge guy approaching, is it a bus? Yes. What does its logo look like? It consists of an “N” and a “J”. Oh, then it’s a bus from New Jersey Transit. This is not the one I’m waiting for, either. Next one.

I have been waiting at the main gate of Princeton University for 40 minutes. That’s not a big deal, except that the Coach USA bus is scheduled to come every 30 minutes.

There must be something wrong, [SIGH].

If the bus can be on schedule, commuting between my house and Princeton is in fact very convenient. I live in Kingston, a small town east to Princeton. One of my colleagues, K.L., found the name of the town amusing.

You live in KINGston, and work in PRINCEton. Then there must be a QUEEN-something that you should be affiliated with,” said K.L..

That’s an interesting remark. Speaking of “queen-something“, the first name to come to mind should be Queensland, Australia. What about New Jersey? If there’s a prince and a king, it’s probable that the Pilgrims who settled in New Jersey also named some place as “queen-something”. According to Wikipedia, there was a town called “Queenstown“, but it’s called “Pennington” today. There was even a “Princessville“, encompassed by the “Lawrence Township” today.

Let’s check out these towns on the Google map.

Hmm… as a family,
aren’t these royal guys living too far apart?

Whatever, it should be obvious that it’s not a far drive from Kingston to Princeton (about 5 – 10 minutes). In fact, Kingston and Princeton are linked by an artery, the Route 27, whose segment in Princeton is called “Nassau Street“. To the east (to the right of the photo below), Route 27 stretches all the way to New York. Therefore, given the compact size of Kingston, there is quite a traffic every morning.

I wait for the bus on the left of this picture, in front of the pancake house. As in Taiwan (and probably anywhere in the world with bus system), the bus stop sign itself is hard to notice among a whole lot of street signs. It’s always easier to recognize a bus stop from its infrastructure. Princeton is not a highly modernized city, let alone Kingston, so the “infrastructure” that indicates a bus stop is nothing more than a nondescript wooden bench. For some minor stops between residential areas, there’s even no bench at all.

It’s hard to find a bus stop even if it’s right in front of me……

And this is the bus I direly wait for every morning.

As its company name suggests, it’s a coach bus meant to commute to and from New York, so it’s cleaner and more comfortable than local bus run by New Jersey Transit. It (claims to) come every half hour from 07:30 to midnight 02:30 (every hour from 09:20 to 02:30 on weekends), so it should be very convenient …… if it doesn’t delay.

Sometimes it does arrive on time, so I cannot but wait for it according to the schedule. It would be great if Coach USA can come up with a smart phone APP to track the current location of the bus, that way I can decide when to leave the house, instead of waiting like a fool for 40 minutes. New Jersey Transit, as well as the bus system in Taipei, has such an APP, but Coach USA hasn’t developed one yet.

It costs $3.5 for a single trip between Kingston and Princeton. That’s the cost of a round trip between my home in Taiwan and National Taiwan University —- and the distance I traveled in Taiwan is definitely longer than that between Kingston and Princeton! So when I say everything in the US is (at least) twice as expensive as in Taiwan, I mean it.

Taiwan is indeed a good place to live.

People can either pay the bus fare by cash, or by tickets bought from designated vendors. People in the US almost pay everything with credit cards. This is one of the few occasions where only cash is accepted —- even the bus ticket vendor takes cash only. It might be too costly any single bus company to implement a stand-alone paying system like the EasyCard people use in Taipei, but it should consider supporting credit card payment (or even mobile payment?) in the future.

Fortunately, the nearest bus ticket vendor is the kiosk at Palmer Square, right in front of Princeton University. I usually buy 10 tickets on Monday for the whole week. So the fact that the bus doesn’t take credit card doesn’t bother me a lot.

After all, the most annoying problem of the bus is that……