12 June 2008

my awesome wife, the 520, and the 93

I am so in love with my wife.

She is generally great (and great for me) but recently I have found an entirely new reason to love her. My wife is riding the bus to work.

My tiny, pregnant, middle-class, white wife rides the VIA bus.

Stefani walks two blocks to the corner of Zarzamora and Huisache where she boards the 520. She transfers at Crossroads to the 93. She hops off at her stop 15 minutes later and she walks a couple more blocks. She is then at work. I love my wife.

In the era of $4 gas, a 32 mile roundtrip costs us $3.

If she can ride the bus, you can ride the bus.

What would you do with the extra time on your commute?

Since you're not driving in traffic, you could read. Or, since you are saving money on gas (or in our case avoiding a second car altogether), you could afford the little luxuries that otherwise are unattainable. How many car payments does a new TV cost? A Kindle? A vacation?

In San Antonio alone, bus ridership has increased 11% since last year. You can do it too. Try it once. You never know...

High gas prices lead to surge in mass transit

WASHINGTON (AP) — It's standing-room-only on many commuter buses from Washington's suburbs. Rail systems from Boston to Los Angeles are begging passengers to shift their travel to non-peak hours. And some seats have been removed from San Francisco's subway cars to allow more people to cram in.

Around the country, high gas prices are pushing more people to leave their cars at home and crowd onto trains, buses and subways.

And while that's usually good news for transit agencies, some are struggling to accommodate new riders at a time when tight budgets are making local and state governments reluctant to put more money toward public transportation.

"I began last month taking the public bus to work because of the gas prices," said Tammy Vega of Austin, Texas, who also takes mass transit when she is on business trips. "Whether I'm in town or out of town, public transportation is going to be the way to go for now."

In the first three months of 2008, 2.6 billion trips were taken on public transportation in the U.S., a 3 percent increase over the first quarter of 2007, according to the American Public Transportation Association.

Among the cities registering big increases in the first quarter were Baltimore, where light rail ridership was up 17 percent from the same period a year ago; Seattle, which saw a 28 percent jump in commuter rail passengers; Boston, where subway ridership rose 9 percent; and San Antonio, where the number of bus riders climbed 11 percent.

Meanwhile, the number of miles driven on American roads fell slightly last year — from 3.014 trillion to 3.003 trillion, according to the Federal Highway Administration. It was the first time since 1980 that the figure had not increased. The drop has continued this year.

"We were always clearly a bargain, but we're becoming even more starkly, clearly the wise economic choice," said Daniel Grabauskas, general manager of Boston's Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

Many big transit systems already have expansion plans that were in the works long before the run-up in gas prices. In New York City, for example, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is in the middle of a $21.2 billion capital program that includes the biggest subway expansion since the system was completed in the early 1940s.

In Washington, Metro has been receiving additional subway cars, ordered long ago. The new cars have enabled the subway to lengthen many of its rush-hour trains from six to eight cars — the longest that will fit in the stations.

But the agency is also working on contingency plans prompted by high gas prices. Among the ideas: having certain lanes declared "bus only" on an emergency basis, and encouraging employers to stagger workers' schedules to ease rush-hour crowding.

Similarly, Boston's transit agency and Southern California's Metrolink commuter rail system are urging people to spread out their commutes.

Metrolink plans to add 107 rail cars to its fleet of 155, but it will take at least a year for the order to arrive, spokeswoman Denise Tyrell said. The agency has been leasing cars from other transit agencies, including those in Seattle and the San Francisco Bay area. But now some of those agencies want their cars back, she said.

In Philadelphia, where ridership on buses, subways, trolleys and commuter trains is up 5 percent in the first 10 months of the fiscal year from the same period a year earlier, the transit agency is switching to some longer buses.

Many transit systems can't afford to expand.

Cynthia Staab, assistant general manager of Tulsa Transit in Oklahoma, said demand is at record levels, but there is no money for more buses. "The city of Tulsa just has a lot of needs," she said. "We compete with police and fire in the general fund."

Also, transit agencies' operating costs are going up for the same reason commuters are leaving their cars home — rising gas prices. In response, many transit agencies are looking at fare increases. And some are even cutting service despite the higher demand, said spokeswoman Virginia Miller, a spokeswoman for the mass transit association.

Still, many transit officials look at high gas prices as a great opportunity to change people's attitudes about public transportation.

"You've had this great resource in your community," said Jawauna Greene, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Transit Administration, "and you've driven right by it in your big ol' SUV."
From: http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gZIdarM-w5cHE3JfVlifDmW0COcQD912QT7G1

1 comment:

  1. Kyle, the first year I lived here I rode VIA every day. In the heat of the summer, and all year long. It took me 2 hours and 3 busses to get to work but I did it. It made me appreciate planning your travel, and I always joked that I was an adventurous soul as I rode the VIA daily.
    God blessed me with a car the second year and I was grateful that I didn't have to get up at the crack of dawn to be at work by 8am.

    Sometimes we take things for granted, air conditioning, cars, ice cubes, toilet paper...however, those I appreciate a lot.

    We are a very wealthy nation, even those of us who live paycheck to paycheck can be grateful for what we have.

    I head to Uganda next month. My first trip to Africa, I have lived vicariously through you for months now. Thanks for the shove to step out of my comfort zone.

    Sara (bloglurker)