Thursday, January 27, 2011

That train don't stop here


We hate public transportation. There, we said it. And, yes, we probably are drowners of little baby kittens and enemies of Gaia to boot but we cannot shake that innate feeling that whenever we step onto a bus or a trolley it is, to us, a demoralizing, demeaning and dehumanizing experience.

Of course, we're somewhat products of our environment in this respect as we have spent all but 4 years on this planet living in Southern California, the hands-down capital of car culture in America and the world. As such, instead of familiarity it is indeed unfamiliarity that breeds our contempt.

Having to comply with someone else's schedule when we deal with that enough as it is... fear of hopping onto the wrong train or bus... fear of missing our stop... being mildly claustrophobic... just not getting there freaking fast enough... have you ever been able to double-back on a bus when you see a pretty girl walking down the street? (in our youth... in our youth)... no choice in the matter of traveling companions... not being able to figure out the token machines... having ZERO control over the radio

... the list goes on.

In short, public tranportation is the antithesis of freedom. Your individual desires and wants are secondary to that of the collective and central planning which is why it such an anathema to us.

Well, you'd be singing a different tune if you lived in a densely populated metropolis, champ?

Would we?

Click on over to our blog-buddy Harrison's place, here, and listen to his tale of woe being car-less in that statist paradise of San Francisco.

Related: On the way home from work yesterday, our beloved hoopdie ('99 Toyota Tacoma) rolled over.

Look at her. Our freedom rider. 200 large and only a clutch and timing belt replacement to show for it. Could you ever love a bus in that way?

* That's the view entering Monument Valley from the south out of Kayenta, Arizona.


Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

*shudder* Why would you DO that to a nice little pickup like that?

At least it's not jumped up to utterly useless levels.... (ever seen a jacked slugbug? With the windows just barely below that of a school bus?)

Back on topic....

Elf and I only have one Mighty Minivan, so Kit and I did two trips--one train-and-bus trip across the state to visit my parents for a week or so, and one trip down to where my sister could pick me up so I could babysit for her. Go on a Wednesday, you can ride from Seattle to Wenatchee for less than thirty bucks, after tax! A bus trip similarly chosen for being the least possible expense, since it was also bought with Amtrack, made the entire trip about sixty dollars after the ridiculous sales tax for my area. Not bad, for an adult and infant. Seattle to Portland, something like twenty bucks when chosen for time rather than expense.

The train stations and bus station were built on the assumption that no-one would drive there, not even being dropped off, other than the station that's near the Tacoma Dome;
There was little or no way to know if you were in the right place for your train until it had actually pulled up and you were being directed to wherever you'd get on;
There was no-one to help the dozens of older folks with their bags (although I somehow ended up with a half-dozen older gentlemen helping me... behold, the power of the baby!);
The "baggage rules" for the trip turned out to be wrong in every single case, even though the web site and electronic ticket said otherwise;
seating on the trains is rather catch-as-catch-can, although they're very good about writing the code for the stop you're going to so they can wake you up.

All of the train trips were delayed, the bus stank (Wenatchee-Leavenworth-Seattle route, for those wondering) and the driver was not very good. (My mom is a bus driver. I carefully did NOT tell her what he was doing.)

In the case of one train delay, it wasn't exactly their fault, I guess-- another train was in the tunnel. In the case of the other, we were never told why we parked for 45 minutes in the dark and looked at Portland's lights. No train passed us.

The company on the trains was very good quality, but again, that's the baby effect-- all the nice older couples who'd taken the train to visit their grandkids and were headed home gravitated over to the happy baby.

The train I took from the Tacoma dome to Portland had airplane style trays, electrical outlets and internet, although I didn't get to try them. That route goes from Seattle to LA via Sacramento, taking 35 hours and costing $160 before tax. (to fly the same, I found a one-stop flight that will take seven hours, for $100-- after taxes.)

There's a big drive to increase the sales tax that goes into the bus system in Pierce county by 50%. Turns out that they signed a deal to give the drivers a 4% increase every year, and our sales taxes already pay 80% of the bills. Really makes one pissed when you see a half-dozen buses with one or two people go by on an hour walk, or when you're dodging garbage of various not-spoken-in-polite-company junk.

Oh, and don't forget the chance to be assaulted on the bus! Always fun, right? (Man, I miss the buses in Pensacola-- you want a save route, take the one that has about fifteen Marines and a ton of sailors riding from base to the main mall.)

Full Metal Patriot said...

I live in Dallas and used to ride the DART train to work on a pretty regular basis. It was quicker and cheaper than driving the 25 miles to and from the office. But there were many tradeoffs. If I was even 30 seconds late, the train would pull away without me and the next wouldn't be along for another 10 minutes; not good if one has to make a morning meeting. Like Foxfier mentioned, there was a high percentage of criminals who used the train either as a drug distribution network or as a convenient place to target victims who can't escape. Plus, train and bus stations are havens for scumbags who simply wait around to assault and rob riders as they walk to and from their cars.

Like you, I find public transportation to be an infringement on individual liberty. When one looks at the cost in tax dollars as well as crime, it might be more trouble than it's worth

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

Thank you for reminding me-- the Pierce County transit does have one area where they make money; it's the high-speed commuter bus. (The commuter train, not so much, but it loses less money.)

Guess what area they're threatening to shut down if they don't get their money?

Privately run bus system, kthnxbai.....

Road Dawg said...

I saw that truck as it cut me off the highway a couple weeks ago.

Assaulted by Marines and Sailors, Foxfier? Say it aint so! Great stories.

I used to take the bus from Ft. Bragg to New York. No ipod, laptop, and the reading in the bus gave me a headache.

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

Nay, nay, protected by them! I never felt the least bit of danger on the bus to the mall, even if I didn't know anybody.

Any goblin dumb enough to try to take on a sailor or marine on that route...well, deserves what happens.

SarahB said...

Holy cow! I hope you are ok! Gotta love a good ol' fashioned pick-up to handle a dust up with it's head held high.

And I agree 100% with cars, pubic transportation and freedom. And let me I spent two years in college dependent on public transportation and have never had so many brushes with terrifying people. Including random drivers trying to pick me up at bus stops and "transfer" locations in very shady neighborhoods. I want to choose when I travel, what route gets me there, and how well lit my stops are going to be.

Dean said...

"rollover" = "odometer rollover". Both myself and the hoopdie are fine. Got that rollover business out of my blood back in '98 in my Forerunner coming home from Mulege', BC... which led to the purchase of my current.

FMP, Re: "infringement on individual liberty". I may be splitting hairs but I do think there is a distinction between "infringement" and "anathema". Since I ulitimately have the choice on the matter, by definition it cannot infringe upon my liberty. At least, that's how I see it.

Thanks for the comments, everybody.

Harrison said...

Good job on the Toyota. And a stick too. Props.

Harrison said...

Good job on the Toyota. And a stick too. Props.

Dean said...

Thanks, Harrison. No other way...

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