Coffee Break with Tory: Going to miss that bus
by Tory Bonenfant, Reporter
Mar 15, 2011 | 925 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
So let’s see here. No more Cyr Bus line up to Madawaska, where I normally get on board to begin my 1,996-mile round trip trek down to Virginia to see my Grandma and family. No more service to Van Buren or Fort Kent, where plenty of other people get on board to spend a day in Bangor or Portland, or connect to the Greyhound line.

As Mr. Bill puts it, “Ohh nooo!!”

I get it, these kinds of decisions are based on terms like “ridership” and “cost-effectiveness” and “quarterly reports.” Got to do what’s best for the company, for the bottom line, have to stay in the black. Got it.

But if I (and when I say “I,” that means we, the Valley) want to catch a transfer to either the Greyhound bus or the Amtrak train for a long trip, after April 4 that will mean waking up at about 4 or 5 a.m., then doing some white-knuckle driving to Caribou – in the dark, through the woods, through a few moose’s back yards – to catch the 7 a.m. Cyr Bus there. Once we get to Caribou, it’ll be Option 1: park your car downtown for a day, a weekend, or two weeks (I’m not liking that last one), or Option 2: get a ride there from someone else and hope they don’t have to work that morning, because they will be either a) late, b) tired, or c) a mind-numbing combination of both. Not liking that one either. Option 3 is to drive to Bangor and park for up to two weeks, in my case. Not that I have anything against either the city, but that rings a resounding “no-way” for me personally.

Do these scenarios sound strangely familiar, in a bad-dream kind of way, in a nasty déjà-vu sort of feeling? That’s because we’ve all been here before – only three years ago, when the hard work of a Madawaska resident and a board of Valley people, believing that we should have fair and equal treatment when it comes to transportation, helped to bring the bus all the way up north.

Yep, that was only three years ago.

If it sounds like I’m not happy, well, that’s because I’m not happy. Actually, I’m fuming, and I know for sure I’m not the only one. So I guess this means, what, a new battle to bring back the bus? Unfortunately, it does not appear that will happen. I think we may just have to find our own rides from this point on.

So let’s say we do the math on this one.

I can fill up my van for about $70 nowadays. That can get me to Bangor, or might get me to Caribou and back twice with a little left over. I do my own driving, or the better half drives me there. I do, of course, need to stop for coffee on the way (and a Charleston Chew is nice first thing in the morning). Add on $2.70. The better half, if he’s dropping me at the Cyr stop in Caribou, returns home in time to be about an hour late for work. Add that on too. That is my total cost of not having a bus stop in Madawaska: about $85.

On the other hand, one bus ticket round-trip to Caribou is going for $15.30 right now.

Now, a big charter-size bus tank holds about 100 – 200 gallons. So, as 100 gallons of diesel goes for about $3.71 a gallon nationwide right now, that makes for at least a $371 fill-up. If Caribou is roughly a quarter of the way from here to Bangor, then a quarter of that fill-up is $92.75 – or, round trip, $185.50.

And of course they would need to pay the driver. Per hour, I’d imagine, so add that on for them.

So, if they only have two people on board, they are making $30.60 for that round trip, less the diesel spent and the driver’s salary.

Good for me, but not good for them. They’d need to have 10 people on board, round trip, to make $153 on the tickets alone, less the gas and driver salary. And that amount is less than they are putting in the gas tank.

OK, I admit, two people average ridership per day, as the Cyr Bus owner said recently, is not really enough to sustain the trip north. But still, I’m going to be grumpy the next time I have to make an hour drive at 5 a.m. to catch a 7 a.m. south-bound bus to see my Grandma. And I can’t afford to bring along a dozen friends to make it worth the bus company’s while.

By all means, if anyone out there can think of a solution, let’s all hear it.