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Published: Friday, 7/25/2008

Editor rides to rescue of planet on TARTA

BY DAVE MURRAY
BLADE SPECIAL ASSIGNMENTS EDITOR

With gas at nearly $4 a gallon and the planet warming, I decided to stop complaining, help the family budget, and reduce my carbon footprint, so here I am on a TARTA bus heading downtown typing this column on my Blackberry.

It's cool, fairly comfortable, and now that we're on I-475, smooth.

What's striking is that only four other people, including the driver, are sharing this 32-passenger bus with me.

I began this journey when I walked out my front door at

7:10 a.m. and a Lake Erie Transit bus picked me up at 7:15 a block from my home in one of the many subdivisions in Bedford Township.

Yes, I'm one of the thousands of Toledoans who left the city years ago for the new, quieter, wooded neighborhoods just north of the Ohio-Michigan border.

I wanted my kids to go to better schools with less crowded classrooms and my wife was planning to attend the University of Michigan. The out-of-state tuition was a killer so even though I went to State, as in Ohio State, I moved my family north to the land of maize and blue.

It's disgusting to see all those flags flying on game day.

I feel guilty that I'm partly to blame for Toledo's declining population, and admit I'm to blame for some of the suburban sprawl that plagues this country. I'm on my third house in Bedford.

I've been a car driver since age 16 and in the following 37 years I can't begin to count the number of gallons of gasoline that I've personally guzzled.

I've owned 15 cars, which seems like way too many. I'm probably to blame for at least an inch or two of the rise in ocean levels.

So a few days ago, after hearing about a new transit option that would get me downtown, I called Lake Erie Transit - we call it dial-a-ride in Bedford because you call and the bus comes to your house to pick you up.

The service is used mainly by seniors and kids who don't have cars, but this new route picks up township residents and takes them to Miracle Mile shopping center at Jackman and Laskey roads to catch a TARTA bus downtown.

So off to save the planet I go, as well as to save myself a few bucks in gas today.

I board the huge bus, which seems out of place in my neighborhood of two cars in every garage. There is one other passenger on board.

I pay 80 cents, find a seat, and begin reading overnight e-mails - 18 of them.

It's 7:25 a.m. when the bus pulls into Miracle Mile behind a TARTA bus. The Lake Erie Transit bus driver hands me a transfer, I walk to the TARTA bus, hand it to the driver, and find a seat.

Done with e-mails and The Blade via Blackberry, I begin to write this column. The bus takes off at 7:30. It's a little bumpy on Jackman, but I can still type.

It's 7:45 when we pull into the Jackson Street TARTA station downtown across from Government Center and a block from my office. I have to stop typing so I'll e-mail myself what I've written so far...

It's 7:52 and I'm at my desk.

It's hard to believe that I left my house 42 minutes ago and it cost me only 80 cents to get here. I don't have to pay to park, I've read and answered my morning e-mails, read a couple local stories, and posted to a Blade blog.

I'm at the office way too early.

Dave Murray supervises the newspaper's coverage of politics, the region, and investigations.

Contact Dave Murray at: dmurray@theblade.com or 419-724-6069.



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