College life is littered with important milestones and rites of passage. Events like your first all-nighter, your first apartment and your first octabong, while not all necessarily scrapbook-worthy, are important steps in developing personal independence and a high tolerance level. These are, after all, the keys to a productive adult life.
And alongside those landmark happenings, located somewhere between your first failed paper and the first of many noise violations, is your inaugural ride on Greyhound. It’s an eye-opening event, and most come out of it lamenting the days when their biggest travel fears were their sister’s cooties or a possible bladder explosion. But this is the real world. That man in the front driving is not your dad, and that woman next to you babbling about cat food recipes is not your mom. These are the moments that separate the men, the boys and those with motion sickness. And it all could be coming to an end.
On July 7, the Madison City Council moved to have the Badger Bus depot, located near the Capitol on West Washington Street, demolished in favor of apartments and retail shops. The depot, which currently serves as the hub for Greyhound and Badger Coaches, is Madison’s only true bus station, with the Megabus stopping at the Dutch Mill Park-and-Ride off the Beltline on Stoughton Road and other buses meeting at the Memorial Union. The question then becomes: Why?
Of the few things Madison and Dane County do a great job of amassing, taxes, apartment buildings and incarcerated black people are at the very top. A quick glance at our city’s skyline will always reveal at least two cranes towering over new building projects, yet we feel the need to continuously be in construction mode. It’s like Babel with an underground, heated parking garage. And we’re doing it all at a time when no one can afford to move into a new, luxury apartment. Conversely, the Badger Bus depot provides an essential service in a convenient location to people who make good use of it.
Nobody likes a conspiracy theorist, but there’s always something a little unsettling when a space used by lower-income people, like a bus station, is torn down in favor of new apartments or retail space. And it’s not as if Madison is dealing with an overabundance of transportation options. Amtrak long abandoned its Madison hub in a move many still regret today. At a time when social awareness is supposedly at an all-time high and we all need to work together to save our planet from greenhouse gases and secret Muslims, marginalizing mass transportation looks like a bad idea.
The Badger Coaches will continue to use the Memorial Union to pick up passengers, as well as the Mobil station across the street from the old bus depot — which is a relief, because now you won’t need to walk anywhere to buy some Skoal. Unfortunately, the Greyhound does not have any solidified plans. Word is they may try and use the same Park-and-Ride as the Megabus, which leads to some admittedly poor college logic: You can’t drive yourself home because you don’t have a car, yet you need a car to get out to the bus stop. And Eddie Van Halen won’t join Wyld Stallyons until Bill and Ted produce a triumphant video, for which they need Eddie Van Halen. It just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Although, I guess you could take the city bus out to the Park-and-Ride. That is, until we get rid of those too.
Sean Kittridge ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in journalism and history.