Living in North America without a car is like walking without a leg. Unless you are living in one of those big cities where trains, buses and subways are all well connected, you would be quite limited to how fast you could get around town. I thought I could live here like my other life in Taiwan, hopping on the bus or flagging down a taxi and it would take me everywhere I wanted to go. Ha, not here! It is not easy to live in a small town in Canada, the second largest country in the world! It is almost impossible to walk to places nearby, especially in the winter time. I was mostly home bound and very dependent on my husband who would take me places to do simple things after he got home from work. (I guess that’s why we have established the habit of doing things together on the weekend ever since we got married.)
The bus system in my city has not changed much for the last 20 years. This is how the local bus system works. A bus usually takes passengers from one end of the city to the centre hub, most likely the train stations or the bus terminal. Unlike Taiwan, these buses only run every half hour or every hour. The passengers then have to transfer to another bus to reach their final destinations as long as their first bus arrives on time or ahead of time, or the passengers would have to hang around longer at the hub for quite a while to connect to another bus. From one end of the town to the other could mean that the passengers probably have to transfer a few times on the bus.
Normally the trip to a local mall or a grocery store might only take us 20 minutes of car ride, but it would take me more than an hour to get there by bus. If I wanted to go to a nearby town or city, I would have to take a train, or take those buses that run only twice or three times a day. So, the trip to the next town for me used to be a full day event, which was very inefficient way to get things done.
I had the first hand painful experiences with the busing system when I got here. I had to take buses frequently to travel to the immigration office in a neighbouring town. We did not hire a lawyer or an immigration consultant to handle our immigration application. I had to be in charge of doing everything myself from immigration to my education or job application. My husband had to work and I simply could not ask him to take too many days off just to accompany me to visit places. The on-line application or cell phones were unheard of at the time, so I had to visit those government offices in person.
At first, it was a novelty to take buses because there were so many things to see and places to visit. I really enjoyed the bus ride and scenery. As the time went by, the novelty wore thin and it became a pain in the neck to wait for the buses! Sometimes, it took me forever to finally reach a government office, but the office then informed me that I missed this paper or that paper and I had to go back again. I hate that! Did they know that I couldn’t travel within the same day on a bus? No! I had to go back again just to finalize a simple thing. Another day meant another bus trip across town for me.