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Lust and the daily commute

From the moment I first saw her sitting in that parking lot in Burnaby, I knew I wanted her. With a fierce desire. Her sleek shape exuded both elegance and charisma.

From the moment I first saw her sitting in that parking lot in Burnaby, I knew I wanted her. With a fierce desire. Her sleek shape exuded both elegance and charisma. Her composure - juxtaposed against the oil-dripped tarmac and seedy surroundings - was mouth-watering and exquisite. And while she didn't make much noise as she moved, you could tell something powerful was driving her from within.

Better still, she was cheap.

On Nov. 23, 2007, Susie the Subaru entered my life with a bang, and I haven't looked back since. Sure, these days her coffee holders don't pop out quite as quickly as they used to. And her beautiful silver exterior is now indented from the two times she accidentally backed into something (a tree, a white truck) faster than she should have. But despite her flaws - and her continual inability to estimate the laws of physics - she is the car of my dreams, and when I drive her around Whistler, my eyes twinkle madly with the glint of a proud lover.

To understand my lusty obsession with Susie, you have to understand that until that tempestuous day in Burnaby, I was one of them.

I was one of the people confined to public transportation. And by confined, I mean, well, confined. No matter what the weather, no matter how late I was to work, no matter how many litres of milk I planned to buy at the grocery store, I always had to catch the bus. I had to check the transit schedule. Get to the bus stop five minutes early. Mount the stairs. Pay my $1.50 fare (as it was priced then). Squeeze in among the other commuters. And patiently stare out the window as the metal beast trotted along Highway 99 oh-so painfully, painfully slow.

And then sometimes I had to transfer. And repeat.

Excuse me, sir, but do you mind if I bring this chair and this large mirror from the Re-Use It Centre on the bus with me?

Would it be OK if I also pile my six bags of groceries onto the floor near the front? Oh, sorry! I didn't mean for my apples to roll out of the bag and across the greasy floor. Not only is it annoying for everyone else, but I don't really want to eat them anymore either.

Hey! Bus driver! Can you hurry up, please? I only have an hour to get to my house and then back to the village! I know that may seem like a lot of time, but the bus only comes every half an hour, and it takes 20 minutes to get from Nordic to the village.

I believe my old roommate kindly referred to my lifestyle necessity as "pubic" transportation.

Then he drove off in his car. And I humbly trekked back to the bus stop, which I was spending so much time in those days I had started dreaming about meeting with a designer to feng shui the place.

Fact: the world our society has built is not designed with the public transportation person in mind. It's designed with the car-driving person in mind. Grocery stores are not on every street corner so people can easily grab eggs and milk without playing the vehicle game. Pharmacies, pubs, and other amenities also aren't sprinkled throughout our neighourhoods. Actually, our residential and commercial areas barely overlap at all.

On top of that, the provincial government has just spent millions upon multi-millions of dollars in the last few years improving Highway 99 to make it easier, quicker, more convenient for people to burn up the mountains in their SUVs and trucks.

Of course, these days a different, but related, debate is raging in Whistler: to pay for parking or not to pay for parking has become the big, fat question.

At least 2,000 irate residents have signed their names in ink (and digital ink) to petitions and Facebook groups in an attempt to get muni hall's attention and let the local government know, "We hate pay parking!"

Meanwhile, lawmakers and city planners are throwing up their hands and declaring, "Well, technically, no parking is free parking. And we have a money problem right now, and a thing called the Olympics coming, and, frankly, we need to find a way to reel in more cash. Quickly."

As the two sides flex their muscles and prepare to go head-to-head on the dusty, half-paved day skier lots in a violent battle scheduled for Tuesday, July 7 (coincidentally the same day as the public council meeting), perhaps a discussion about buses and busing is also needed.

If we are serious about becoming a sustainable community - one that does not encourage driving to the village to pick up a litre of milk and then immediately driving home again - we need to figure out how we can make the public transportation more convenient for everyone in town.

We need to find a way people can work nine to five, easily complete their errands and still squeeze in time for the rest of life's demands before the stroke of midnight. Even if people have three children at home who need to get to day care or soccer practice.

And, as this discussion really lights up, we need to ensure smokin' hotties like Susie don't steal the hearts of any more bus commuters frustrated with a system that hardly works because of the current structure of our world.