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November 17th, 2000

Public Transportation

When living in or visiting the city, there’s no doubt that public transportation is the way to go if you need to save money. The thing is that every transportation system in every major city is totally different. In Philly, the rail system runs out into NJ as well as throughout the city. In San Francisco, there are probably more public transportation options than any other city, but the rails don’t run all night and the bus schedule is quite confusing for a first-timer. In New York, just about everything runs all night and is cheap but often isn’t very clean. In DC, hours are limited and the Metro is often cost-prohibitive, but the ride is clean and safe. So, since the Ping has a pretty wide-reaching readership, what advantages/disadvantages does public transportation in your city have? What most needs to be improved (service hours, price, cleanliness, safety, etc.)? -ram

Posted in Miscellaneous

FROM: liz
DATE: Friday November 17, 2000 -- 1:53:30AM
yeah, albuquerque only has buses. i don't take them, because i'm afraid.

FROM: Barbara
DATE: Friday November 17, 2000 -- 8:09:57AM
This is for cities that I've lived in or currently living in.

Chicago - Lots of transportation options, buses, trains, El. Cheap and kind of dirty. I think the trains and the El would be confusing for a first time user. Buses pretty much go in a straight line, except for the suburban bus lines. (Paul may be able to comment further...I haven't lived there in 6 years)

Phoenix - Only buses, and only come about every 15 minutes to an hour on the weekends. Really cheap, and usually clean.

Atlanta - Buses and trains. Have not taken any of the buses. But the train is really convienent and easy to use for a first time visitor. The cool thing about the train is that there is a station right in the airport, just off of the baggage claim. Atlanta has the busiest airport now, so it is much easier to have someone pick you up or grab a cab at one of the stations further out from the airport.

Oh, and once I've gotten over the fear of getting lost...I've never been or had a reason to be scared. All systems have seemed safe to me.

FROM: Robert
DATE: Friday November 17, 2000 -- 8:37:09AM
My only major complaint with the DC Metro is that it doesn't go into Georgetown. Duh! Oh, and there is no parking at the Springfield/Franconia station during the week...seriously, none at all.

FROM: Robert
DATE: Friday November 17, 2000 -- 8:41:06AM
Madison, Wisconsin also has a pretty good bus system. You can get all over the place, including the airport which is maybe 10 or 15 miles out of town. I think the students use it so much it has to run everywhere. The only problem is that it never runs later then midnight. In a sleepy burg that wouldn't be much trouble but in a swingin' college town that just leaves a lot of drunken kids to risk something stupid or irritating.

FROM: Paul
DATE: Friday November 17, 2000 -- 9:13:13AM
Barbara kind of touched on Chicago's transportation system. The city proper has a pretty decent one... buses do go straight up and down streets, the El is everywhere in the Loop.

The huge problem lies with Pace and Metra, the suburban bus and rail lines. Pace's routes are kind of scattershot - some suburbs are just excluded altogether from routes. Metra's a bigger problem... there are only about 4-5 lines that run out from the city, and there are NONE that run north-south in the suburbs.

This is fine if you work in the city and live in the burbs, or vice versa, but what if you live AND work in the burbs? You're forced to take a expressway like 290, 355, or 294. It's possible to take a train from Aurora - way the hell out there - to Chicago, but not from Elmhurst to Arlington Heights. They just never kept up.

And they wonder why the roads are a mess every day....

FROM: Tina
DATE: Friday November 17, 2000 -- 12:23:15PM
When I lived in San Francisco, I was completely dependent on public transportation. There really isn't any other choice, since parking is an utter nightmare - picture looking for parking for at least a half hour every night after work, following the "interesting" traffic patterns you encountered on the Bay Bridge, etc etc. It wasn't fun. A beautiful but very slow drive.

MUNI (the electric buses) were pretty good when they weren't packed to the rafters (and I'm not kidding - if the MUNI drivers could, they'd stack us up like sardines). BART (the train system)didn't run after midnight, and that wasn't too great if you didn't have enough money to take a cab home from the bars in the Haight to North Beach.

I'd rate the transportation system about a 6 out of 10.

I do not miss public transportation.

FROM: Old Fezziwig
DATE: Friday November 17, 2000 -- 12:39:03PM
Here in Cleveland, we have the Rapid (or as some people affectionatly call it, the Crapid) - it's an above-ground rail similar to the El but with a much smaller network. I'd say it's fairly clean and almost always on time. I've never felt unsafe while riding one, even in the middle of the night by myself. It's very effective in getting to the airport from one side of the city to the other and in carting people around to the city's hot spots. They've also kept the price fairly consistent throughout the years - $1.50 for at least the last 5 years.
Some problems with it: you never know what time the service ends at seems to vary by night and season but they never post that information clearly. Also, they are still lacking a route that runs north & south and with the urban sprawl, some of the outlying suburbs are left out as of now.
There are also the regular city buses but only commuters and dirilicts use that system. For the most part, the buses are dirty, unreliable, and almost everyday I see one blatantly cut off a passenger car or knock the side mirror off of a parked car.

FROM: Monica
DATE: Friday November 17, 2000 -- 2:35:05PM
Right on, Robert. The buses here in Madison are great at getting you right to where you want to go--the airport, the grocery stores, the malls... it seems pretty well-planned. I wish the bus to the airport ran on weekends, though.
Right now there's lots of problems with a lack of riders. Unfortunatley not many students are taking advantage of the bus system (Mommy and Daddy buy them cars, I guess, or there are just too many of them kazoo-motor mopeds). It is a little confusing for new users, I think. Unless you're a geog. buff and you like to study maps :)

Chicago's El and bus system are both pretty darn nice (though not as clean as the Washington Metro, that's for sure). I thought it was easy to figure out, and I really liked how you can get a pass that allows you to use different trans. systems in a certain time period for a one-time fee. That's really cool if you're just going there for a weekend!

FROM: Robert
DATE: Friday November 17, 2000 -- 3:02:53PM
Monica--I forgot about the mopeds! They are cool to own but they make anyone look ridiculous riding them.

FROM: Paul
DATE: Friday November 17, 2000 -- 3:29:29PM
Like scooters?

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Friday November 17, 2000 -- 3:29:34PM
This isn't exactly public transportation, but has anyone seen those one-person cars? Talk about nutty...

FROM: Robert
DATE: Friday November 17, 2000 -- 4:06:08PM
Ryan--I think those are called Formula 1 racers.

FROM: liz
DATE: Saturday November 18, 2000 -- 9:07:54PM
yo, scooters rule! i want to move somewhere where i don't need a car and can just use a scooter.

FROM: Paul
DATE: Friday January 4, 2002 -- 8:37:14AM
Man, I can't believe I forgot to follow-up on this.

Back when I lived in Chicago's suburbs, I thought the public transportation was horrible (and it was). I now live in the city proper, and think it's great. I'm two blocks from the El, and it's definitely the way to go.

A one-way trip on the El is $1.50, and a transfer is $0.30. How does this compare to prices elsewhere?

FROM: John
DATE: Sunday April 18, 2004 -- 9:11:24 am
Detroit's public transportation is terrible no thanks to the efforts of Henry Ford (or so I've read), who did everthing he could to squash any sort of mass transit in an effort to sell more cars. Downtown Detroit's People Mover is useless and was nothing but a colossal waste of money, though I do ride it on occasion more for kicks than legitimate transit purposes.

I am a big fan of urban rail systems, particularly rapid transit. NYC's subway system remains unmatched in scope in this country, with concepts such as parallel local and express service truly ahead of their time when it opened nearly 100 years ago. It is my favorite system by far, but I also like the rail transit options in Chicago and San Francisco. The Metro in DC is alright, but MARTA in Atlanta just sucks. I look forward to a Boston trip to try out the T.

FROM: Paul
DATE: Sunday April 18, 2004 -- 10:25:06 am
Denver's public transportation is improving - but it's a ways off from being world class and, in my opinion, it's definitely not like Chicago.

The main public transit here is buses. Lots of buses. I personally prefer trains, only because they are impervious to traffic jams. Denver has a light rail line at the moment, but it basically goes between downtown and Littleton - that's it.

Things are changing, though. The light rail is being expanded to run along I-25 all the way down to the Denver Tech Center, which is drastically going to alter transportation here. It won't be done until the end of next year. There's also a larger plan on the table called FasTracks, which would connect the ENTIRE Denver area via light rail - Boulder, the airport, all of the suburbs. That's going to be voted on this fall, but wouldn't be done until 2015.

At least they're giving it a shot. I can't imagine a modern city without a train, frankly.

DATE: Saturday January 1, 2005 -- 2:58:09 pm

DATE: Saturday January 1, 2005 -- 2:58:15 pm

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