Monday, July 6, 2009

A Day in the Life

Today I had a cinco. I was on three different transit systems and on five different transport modes. This morning I woke up realizing that I needed to take my car in after the check engine light had been flashing at me lately and the throttle just wasn't acting right. Since I drive to my Grammas each week (because the bus line used to stop running at 3:30pm and is now gone) it's nice to have my car to get too and from her house.

But today I took my car to Broadway in Oakland and dropped it off. "Can I get you a courtesy Shuttle?" says the service manager. "No thanks, I'll take the bus". I walked through the showroom where everyone else was waiting for thier shuttle to take them to thier car needy areas and stepped out to the 51 bus stop. I hopped on and waited five minutes for the driver to load a wheelchair customer who almost ran him over. "Whoa, slow down man" he said to the motorized wheelchair owner who wanted to back over his feet while he held the seatbelt up for him. The rest of the trip to 14th and Broadway took about 6 minutes. Not long at all.

Later that evening when I got off work, I hopped on BART and rode to Powell. I got off and walked up stairs to the Muni Metro and hopped on the J Church LRV. I hopped off at Church and Market and walked into Safeway to buy groceries for the next few days. I walked back out and back onto the J to go home to 24th street.

That's pretty cool. I drove, took the bus, took the subway, took the Muni Metro and walked today while running a number of different errands that were on the way to my final destination. All possible because I live in a place that gives me options. I wish more people could do it this way and I know there are plenty of people out there who wish they could have the opportunity, but our leaders are denying them the option on the false premise of car superiority and lame numbers.


Anonymous said...

There is also an aspect that people are lazy or that they have been conditioned to only think about traveling by car.

W. K. Lis said...

Transit agencies should have a timed fare system, where for (let's say) 2 hours, one can get on and off the system for shopping or errands while on a trip. Otherwise, its an extra fare each time one gets off.

MHJ said...

In NYC, if you pay a cash fare, you have up to 2 hours to transfer to another mode of transportation. I've used this system when paying with my cash MetroCard to stop and get a quick snack or go to the drugstore.

What I'd love to see is a cross-system card, where I could use MetroNorth, LIRR or MTA services with the same card, rather than buying separate tickets for MetroNorth and LIRR, then a MetroCard for the subway/bus.

arcady said...

MHJ: almost, but not quite, true. What you're really talking about is paying with a pay-per-ride Metrocard. If you pay with cash on a bus, you can only get a bus-to-bus transfer, and if you buy a single ride ticket in the subway, you get no transfer at all. And it takes a minimum of $4 to buy a Metrocard. Thus, if you have $2, it will cost you $4 for a trip with a transfer, but if you have $4, it will only cost you $2. Unless you find a discarded empty Metrocard and refill it, in which case it's only $2. Thus, a Metrocard with no money on it can potentially be worth $2, in a certain very specific situation. said...

You're probably slightly exaggerating about the 5 minutes' delay, but I've seen it happen before.

Passengers in wheelchairs who need several minutes to load (or who are carrying large items, like one I saw on the 22 with a mini-fridge) should always call paratransit services.

It's just rude to slow 20 people's trips down by 5 minutes apiece just so they can save a couple minutes. I wouldn't accept it from kids messing around on the bus, and I can't accept it from disabled passengers either, especially when we provide them with an expensive full-service alternative to avoid exactly these types of situations.

To be clear, I'm saying they should choose not to ride because it's polite, not that they shouldn't be allowed to ride.

Bob Davis said...

Reminds me of one of my early visits to MuniLand in the late 60's. Rode PCC cars, electric buses, cable cars, diesel buses, a gasoline bus, and SP suburban trains with Fairbanks-Morse locomotives. Just a few years ago, I had a day in port off a cruise ship, and rode Breda LRV's, Caltrain, VTA light rail, BART, and "F" line PCC's, so there's still a lot of variety there. Here in the LA area, we've gone from a bus-only traction desert to three light rail lines, seven diesel suburban lines, a subway, a heritage trolley and two battery powered short-haul streetcars.
Regarding the "people are lazy" comment: I once wrote an item about how it's no wonder automobiles are the dominant means of passenger transport--they cater to laziness, selfishness and impatience.

njh said...

I always encourage people to get a monthly pass rather than talk about more fine grained stuff. People are happy to splurge $10k/year on a yearly pass for their car, but not pay $600 for a yearly pass for PT.

Fine grained payment systems don't have any benefit for the user (they usually involve complex check-in/check-out procedures, the possibility of people tracking, reliability problems, greater cost). Proof of payment and long term tickets work just fine, and encourage people to use PT like they would a car.