It's been so long since I've been on a PAT bus, I can't recall the previous ride -- probably five or six times in the past 25 years, when my car and my husband were not available. It's amazing when you consider I grew up in Brooklyn and rode a bus and two trains to high school and spent hours and hours on public transportation from the time I was a preteen.
I never owned by own car when I lived in New York, and when I moved here in 1980, when I was 22, I live on Fifth Avenue in Shadyside, so a car seemed like an unnecessary luxury. I rode the bus everywhere for more than a year, when I finally bought my first car, a light blue VW Rabbit. Loved that car.
But I digress . . . The point is, I started the day on a bus, the 61C, Greenfield to Stanwix and Boulevard of the Allies. It took about a half-hour instead of the usual 10-15 minutes by car, but it was still quite pleasant. The crowds were obviously way down, but the driver was very nice to all of us irregulars who asked a million questions, and it was an easy drive, with just a slight delay at the Downtown checkpoint at Fifth and Ross that become much busier later on.
What I saw along the way . . .
The Carnegie Mellon football team was practicing at 8 a.m. -- there's dedication. But nothing unusual until we were slightly further along, approaching the main CMU campus on Forbes. A young man behind me was telling his seatmate that he was going Downtown to greet the president, but he wasn't quite sure when or where. He got off at the campus, where about two dozen vans were lined along the street, and joined other Asian students in boarding the vans. Wonder where he wound up today.
The saddest sight I saw was just up the road, where the windows and fountains at the Forbes/Craig corner of the Carnegie Museum of Art were protected and the statues outside the Carnegie Music Hall were covered by tarps. Giant, friendly Dippy looked so exposed on the opposite corner.
When we turned off Forbes along Bellefield, there were three ambulances (McKeesport, McCandless, and was that Kiski?) from different neighborhoods stationed right in the center of the street. For several blocks on Fifth, up to the PAA block, the parking meters were covered and warned of no parking, and the entrance to Bigelow was blocked by a barracade.
After that, it was a straight shot on Fifth, with few passengers and little or no traffic until we reached the checkpoint at Fifth and Ross, where buses began to back up while police checked vehicles.
The friendly driver said it was "quieter than usual."
If only it's the same when I go home tonight.