Friday, July 31, 2009

public transportation

Back before I bought the danger Ranger, I occasionally took the bus to the mall in Gainesville. Rarely at best, but every so often, I'd need something that wasn't at any stores within walking distance of campus. So, I'd hop on the number 20 out to the Oaks Mall, wander around for an hour or so, and hop back on to get back to my dorm. I never had any need to figure out the schedule or the route for that matter. There weren't a whole lot of choices and the trip was short. Worse came to worse, I could call a friend to (maybe) pick me up. Beyond that and a rare Later Gator trip, I was not really savvy on public transit.

D.C.'s Metro system is my preferred mode of transport into the city. If I need to drive somewhere that Metro doesn't reach, it's a rare, special occasion. I know there's much to see in the District that is not accessible underground, but convenience is convenience. I could walk to the station, to my destination and back again. Since moving to Falls Church, I have a longer walk and a longer trip on the train. To get other places faster, I've begun trying to figure out the bus schedules nearby.

Mind you, my use of the bus is not a necessity. I rarely have cause to need public transportation since I have a live-in designated driver for those late nights or early happy hours. This summer, it's been more of something to do, just in case I need to one day.

Well, the past two weeks have been a "need to" situation. My folks borrowed my car for 2 weeks. Last year, it would not have been as big a deal. I was able to ride my bike, walking was an easier option comparatively. My fruitless PT appointments were in the District and easily Metro accessible. This year's chiropractor appointments are about three miles from the nearest Metro station and two bus transfers away if I go that route. Today, it took me almost 2 hours to get there. Afterwards, I had to wait for close to an hour to catch a bus that didn't even take me to the Metro line.

I have trouble accepting it because I have other options. Some of my fellow bus riders likely have no other option. Waiting for the bus is a fact of life for them. With no car and a need to earn a living, what other options are there outside of the reach of Metro and walking beyond the realm of possibility? People wonder why Americans don't use public transit. When you factor buses into it, it's horribly slow and time-consuming. I spent over four hours on various forms today to travel 20 miles or so. When I have the option to drive and save three of those hours for cooking a good meal, going to the gym, or taking some pictures, what am I going to choose?

Until we as a nation, state, or community decide to live where we work and make public transit more convenient by proximity, we're stuck with what we've got. Fortunately, I get my car back on Monday and will probably forget about it until I need to hop on a bus again.

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