Monday, August 18, 2008

Public Transportation

Living in Europe these past ten years, I’ve grown accustomed to public transportation. It is now officially my preferred method of transport, apart from walking. In some ways, we’ve gotten spoiled now, because it drives me crazy how you have to drive everywhere in North America.

There is one minor drawback, however, to most public transport systems. It forces you to classify people into one of two categories: runners or non-runners. I’ll explain: about 50 percent of the time a bus or train pulls up to the platform at such a moment as to make it feasible for you to run and catch it, or—if you simply walk—you’ll miss it by less than a second, forcing you to wait for the next one to come (which can sometimes be up to 20 minutes—in the case of some busses—and sometimes even an hour in the case of some trains).

You can guess I’m of the “running” persuasion, while Heather is of the “I’d-prefer-to-be-slower-than-a-slug-on-barbiturates” persuasion.

Last night, we had this discussion with a pair of friends that are married. He, interestingly enough, aligns himself with the wiser of the two sides (that is, the “if-I-miss-this-train-my-life-is-over” side), while his wife sides with my wife.

Out of curiosity, which tendency do you lean towards? Run for it (because, yes, life is to be lived like a competition) or just keep walking (because, yes, it’s fun to see your spouse frustrated no end)?

I am a complete convert to public transportation, but that is mostly because I started using it here in Spain, where it is much more developed than any place I have ever lived before. I did experience random pockets of it while I was growing up; taking the bus to the downtown part of Quito because it was a nightmare to drive/park there, taking the subway around Toronto when we visited my Grandparents there.

Even though we own a car, we use public transportation in Madrid probably 95% of the time. Madrid has an amazing system of metro (subways) and bus. I love the freedom, the low cost, and the knowledge that we’re doing our part to lessen our impact on the environment.

I prefer the bus to metro. Even if it takes longer, I love to ride around and look at beautiful Madrid. Dark tunnels, not so much. Plus, I can deal with a crowded bus much better than I can deal with a crowded metro. If I have to be smashed up against strangers, I really prefer to be able to look past them and see something other than a dark wall.

I almost cannot cope if the metro stops in the middle of the tunnel between stops and sits there. It makes me claustrophobic, paranoid and jittery. Me no likey.

Also, unless there is no avoiding it (like there is no chance I’ll be on time unless I do) I do not run for buses or trains.


Kimberly said...

we both run to catch buses & metro trains, fortunately. but Rodrigo doesn't liked being rushed to cross the street if the little green walking man is blinking, preferring to force me to wait in the blistering sun with him while the light goes through it's cycle.

but that's better than waiting 20 minutes for another bus.

Justin said...

i'm a runner...even with a baby.

Anonymous said...

I am a runner... and I pretty much always fall into the category of "life is over if I miss this bus/train/what have you" :)
~laura from the office