Mass Transit

my daily view
Originally uploaded by xadrian.
This is the view I've seen twice a day for the past year.

The car I had failed catastrophically in late 2011. I didn't have decent enough credit or much in the way of savings to get a new one. At the time, Grace and I were living together and so we'd share her car. Most of the time we would ride bikes to school/work but for dates or events at night we'd drive. We also drove to visit her parents.

When she moved away to grad school, I had a choice: Try to get a new car and likely have to pay through the nose and go further into debt with car payments, or take the bus. I chose the later, really wasn't much of a choice.

I will say I enjoy taking the bus. I think Austin's mass transit over all is really underutilized, isn't well developed, and is very under appreciated by the general public. (Just my opinion. I'm sure someone will show studies of how some cities have great mass transit.)

In Austin it's just the bus and light rail. The light rail is a single line going from way north to downtown. It runs every half hour from before rush hour till just after rush hour in the evening. It runs till midnight on the weekends. The buses have locals and expresses and some flyers or shuttles with limited stops for the airport or UT campus.

I ride the express. I get a lift to the park and ride and get downtown about 30 mins later. Then I walk a few blocks to work. Same going home. Sometimes I'll take the train, depending on if my ride needs to go that way or not. But the train fills up at that time and there's never a place to sit. Still, it's better than driving.

I thought at first not having a car would be really awkward. But it's not as bad as I thought. I think even if I had a car, I'd still take the bus. There are two cars at the house and I've been told I'm free to use either. I'm on the insurance. And while I've always threatened to ride my bike more, being that far away from things makes me glad I have options.

Soon I'll have a scooter to ride. I just bought a battery for one of the two scooters we have in the garage. The ladies got these years ago but haven't used them a whole lot. There's been mechanical issues and one needs to be licensed. Also, they're both 150cc scooters so I need to get a class M license.

Then, I'll be able to drive that to the bus stop. And they're big scooters, so technically I could drive one to work if need be.

The only problem I have with the bus right now is it gives me a lot of time to think. I used to read or nap, but the last few weeks it's been hard to do those things and I just sit and stare. I know I'll get past that, but right now it's kind of a long sad ride to work, where I sit for long sad stretches doing nothing but thinking. It's not the bus's fault and I'm really glad it's still there to take me where I need to go.


Matt T said...

I tend to have a pretty chatty brain and am a big fan of podcasts as a distraction - especially for commutes and roadtrips. Not a new format at all, but here's some favorites:
* RadioLab
* This American Life
* Decoder Ring Theater (BlackJack Justice and Red Panda)
* Slate's podcasts
* Planet Money

Ben Rollman said...

I love Radio Lab. I also find it funny that I really only listen to it on road trips. I should change that.