Most of the places I’ve lived had what I think of as traditional one-trip-one-fare bus transfer policy, where you can’t break your journey or double back without paying another fare. In Hamilton, where I learned to ride the HSR buses as a teenager, the bus stops where the routes intersected were marked TRANSFER POINT, meaning that you could only use a transfer at those marked stops. If you took the first bus, got off it and turned the corner, and were wondering how long you’d have to wait for the second one, you either had to wait at the transfer point or you had to walk the whole way. You couldn’t just run one stop at a time, then look to see if the bus was coming – you’d invalidated the transfer by walking. Kingston still has one-trip fares, and I’ve heard bus drivers arguing with people who didn’t like this policy.

Anyway, the novelty of the timed transfers in Edmonton still has not expired for me. It’s not against the rules to get on the bus after work, make two or three stops to shop on the way home, and keep using the same transfer every time I get back on the bus in any direction. I don’t know why the price of a bus ticket would feel like such a deterrent to me, but it makes a huge difference. I always feel like I got away with something or should celebrate being frugal, when I get more than one destination on a bus ticket. The transfers are supposed to be set at least 90 minutes away, and drivers usually give you more.

Last night I got on the LRT after work. That’s even more of a bonus, since if you start with the LRT you don’t get the timed transfer until you get on a bus afterwards. I got off at Central station, took an 85 bus from that big stop across from the Hotel Macdonald, got off in Cloverdale, and went to the Muttart Conservatory. (That also didn’t cost me any more money, since I have a membership, and I think it’s free for the last half hour every day anyway.) It was neat wandering around in the twilight, and knitting in the quiet. The display in the feature pavilion was about a newly-discovered ancient species of trees from Australia. The light and shadows and empty Arid-landscape pavilion made me think of the kind of movie where the succulent tentacles begin to move in the dark. Then I was almost sorry I had thought of that.

My trip home didn’t quite work so well. I wanted to find a route without walking up the Connors Road/Gallagher Park hill, and I’d just missed a bus so I had half an hour to wait. I walked along the road (98 Avenue) admiring the attractive new townhouses and mixed-use buildings, then caught another 85 bus. The maps.google application on my iPhone had said to take that bus to the Capilano Transit Centre and then come back on a 4, but I could see that the routes intersected earlier on, at 76 Street. So I just barely missed a #4 bus there, had another half-hour wait in the increasing cold, then got home. All on one bus ticket.

This morning I took a bus a few stops to Bonnie Doon Mall, where I got a flu shot and bought stamps and medicine and groceries, then caught a bus in the other direction to work. All on one bus ticket.

Of course, if I buy a monthly pass in January, it may take away the fun of this game. Then I can play look how many times I can take the bus in a month.

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