Once, just for kicks, I decided to take public transportation to work to see what it would be like. Instead of a 50 minute one-way car trip, I was looking at a 120 minute one-way trip involving two buses, and getting up at 4:30 in the morning to make it work. Determined to try it at least once, I did, and it kicked my ass. After the odyssey was complete, the satisfaction that I gained supporting public transit paled in comparison to the massive sacrifice of time that I had endured. I haven't done it again since.
Recently I started reading headlines about how transit ridership in Los Angeles County is declining. Pissed off, I pulled out my transit maps again, determined to see if there was any better way of making the trip; any way to shave off even a few minutes and make it more bearable. Suddenly it hit me. What if instead of taking transit all the way, I only took it half way. What if I parked in a park and ride lot and took a light rail line to the local bus line that takes me to my job? I ran the numbers and sure enough, it was a better trip. Instead of 120 minutes each way, I was looking at 90 minutes.
Now, 90 minutes is still a long time, not very competitive with 50 minutes. Given that gap, I asked myself, how could I do this every day? Then something else hit me: I don't have to do it every day. I can accomplish a lot even if I only do it once a week. Thus, Transit Tuesday was born.
I've done it about five times so far, riding transit to work more in the past couple of months than I have in the last several years. Here's what I like about Transit Tuesday:
- It gives me a way to support a cause I care about, public transportation, even though the transit services that take me to work aren't very good. That support of transit is in two forms of currency: actual money that helps offset the cost of providing transit service and the political currency of ridership, which makes it easier to support transit with public funds and by re-allocating road space from cars to transit. More money and ridership for the transit system improve the odds of transit getting better in the future.
- It allows me to reduce my vehicle distance traveled and transportation greenhouse gas emissions by about 10% (since I drive half way to work instead of all the way one day a week).
- I get more exercise on Transit Tuesday, which is always a plus
- I get more reading done on Transit Tuesday
- Transit Tuesday adds variety to my boring-ass commute
- Transit Tuesday has started conversations with my coworkers like "Why aren't you going to your car" and "You got here on the bus?!"
- Catchy name!
The moral of the story is that we don't all live and work in places where transit is convenient, but that doesn't mean you can't do something. Take a hard look at your trip to work and you might find yourself starting a Transit Tuesday tradition of your own!