Our brief exchange today about public transportation reminds me that I’ve been meaning to post this email Doug Ross sent me the other day:
Brad,I’m still struggling with your love affair with public transportation. Here’s my latest experience: I started a new job today and had to travel to Boston for a week of onboarding. I’m staying with my son who lives about 15 miles south of Boston. Here’s how our journey went today:1. Walk 15 minutes in 40 degree weather to train station (or he could drive and pay $7 a day to park)2. Buy pass for the week for $19 (a reasonable deal, about what I pay per week now for a tank of gas in my Honda)3. Wait 8 minutes for train4. Board train. Luckily he is at one of the first stops so I was able to get a seat. But I am not a small person and that means sharing personal shoulder space with the people on either side of me.5. Train starts moving. It doesn’t smell great in the car. Not as funky as the night before when I spent 20 minutes beside someone who smelled like a mixture of old milk and onions, but not as pleasant as my personal car interior.6. Next stop, a bunch of people get on. They all are standing. Had I seen a woman nearby, I would have given up my seat (since I am a gentleman at heart) but there were none.7. The guy in front of me decides to stand facing me with his crotch perhaps 18 inches from my face. This RARELY happens in my car. In fact, it has NEVER happened.8. Spend the next 20 minutes hunched over my phone so I don’t have to stare at crotch guy. My neck starts to hurt 15 minutes in.9. Arrive in downtown Boston and fight the masses to get off train, hike up stairs to sunshine, and then walk 5 minutes to office. Imagine if it was a rainy/snowy day?Overall it took 45 minutes to travel 15 miles. Maybe it would be worse in a car. Yes, the parking downtown would make it impossible to justify economically. But if I had to do this every day, I would quit my job and move to the suburbs.Your mileage may vary.
For Doug, his unhappy experiences with public transportation — even with those systems that are my favorites, such as London’s Tube — are closely related to his disdain of government as inherently inefficient and incompetent.
All he can see is the hassles; all he can think is how much he’d rather be in his car.
Whereas for me, having the rare privilege of getting to ride on a subway is like a magic carpet ride. I LOVE it. You walk down some steps (or ride an escalator), step onto this conveyance that emerges from nowhere out of a dark tunnel (Minding the Gap, of course), and emerge moments later miles away across a metropolis that would be a nightmare to negotiate in a car, bypassing the traffic as though it doesn’t exist.