When Connie Baldwin got tired of fighting traffic on her commute to work, she decided it was time to try the bus. Six years later, she shares her story of using public transportation as part of our series on the Green Commute Challenge in Kansas City.

The Green Commute Challenge is a friendly competition designed to reduce emissions in the metro area by encouraging commuters to ride a bus, streetcar or scooter, bike, carpool, walk or telecommute to work from June 1 to August 31. For the next three weeks, Greenability Weekly is partnering with RideshareKC and Mid-America Regional Council to share commuters’ stories about what inspired them, how they handle bad weather and what tips they offer for other commuters.

Here’s Baldwin’s experience riding a KCATA bus from Spring Hill, KS to her job at Hallmark in Kansas City, MO.

Q: Did you ever drive to work?

A: Yes, I drove my car for many years, and I also rode in a Hallmark vanpool for many years. I still drive if I have a special appointment after work, but I’d rather ride the bus. I’ve been riding the bus for six years, and it is so much easier than driving and dealing with the traffic.

Q: What motivated you to make the change?

A: I got so tired of dealing with traffic congestion on the highway. I live in south Johnson County, and I was afraid of having a car accident or that I would get a flat tire. I don’t know how to change a tire, and I don’t want the extra cost of paying someone to help me or the cost of an accident. The thought of being stranded on the highway is very scary to me.

Q: How did you get started taking the bus?

A: Six years ago, we moved from Grain Valley, MO to Spring Hill, KS. I was complaining to a co-worker about the traffic on I-35 and she told me that she rode the bus from Johnson County. She recommended I try it because she really loved it, and all she had to do was sit back and let someone else drive. She also told me how Hallmark subsidizes the cost of bus passes which made it even more affordable. I found a route from Olathe to downtown Kansas City, MO, and I was impressed at how many times were available. So, I could still adjust my schedule as needed.

Q: What are some of the benefits of taking the bus?

A: There are many benefits to riding the bus! Riding the bus saves money on gasoline, wear and tear on your car, and could get you insurance discounts. It takes the stress out of sitting in traffic jams, you can make new friends, sleep, work on your laptop, or play on your phone. And you don’t have to worry because you always know there is a bus coming to pick you up!

Q: What are some of the barriers? 

A: I honestly cannot think of any barriers to riding the bus. I don’t even have to worry about emergencies because I use RideshareKC’s Guaranteed Ride Home program. It gives you up to two free rides per year. So, you’re not stuck at work if you have an emergency. I have used this benefit twice, once when my father had a heart attack and once when my husband was very sick.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who is driving to work every day, but has been thinking about taking the bus?

A: Just do it! Once you give it a try you will see how fantastic and how convenient riding the bus is. The bus is very clean and has nice interiors. You are not held to any contracts, you can drive your car any time you want, but once you realize how nice it is you won’t want to drive yourself anymore!

Q: Why is it important for you and your organization to participate in the Green Commute Challenge?

A: Participating in the GCC along with my co-workers brings awareness to how much ride sharing helps the environment. You can see the amount of pollutants and chemicals created from car emissions you’re helping reduce. Plus, with the amount of fuel and dollars being saved, the numbers are huge! I am very proud to be a part of this and knowing that I am helping to secure a clean environment for generations to come.

Learn more and sign up at Green Commute Challenge.

Photo: Darrin Dressler