Archive for December 12th, 2010


transportation meditations

maxlightrail_thumb1There are a million ways to go.  Just ask Cat Stevens.  Personally, I prefer walking or riding my bike, but that isn’t always possible.  Groceries, commuting when it’s icy or pouring rain, blah blah blah.  I keep it simple by traveling by whatever means will stress me out the least.  Here are a few observations on the various forms of transit I regularly take.

Buses are as mysterious to me as the ways of women.  They supposedly run on a schedule, but even after checking the times and routes, that schedule remains elusive to me.  Maybe buses are more like bees.  They flit from stop to stop, following an internal clock that can never be understood by the rider.  Some people rely on buses exclusively for getting around.  I pity those people.

Right now I’ve been taking a bus to work when the weather is too unfortunate for riding my bike, and I’m still not sure I’m leaving my house at the correct time.  Even if I left at the exact same second every day, my commute would be slightly different.

Trains are the most alluring form of mass transit.  They glide on metal rails, following predetermined lines.  A train stop won’t change on you, and trains (at least here in Portland) run with traffic lights and without traffic.  It’s almost magical.springfield_monorail
The monorail may be my favorite kind of train, though they are sadly relegated to the realm of novelty.   Someday I’d like to ride the super fast trains in Japan, especially the ones that run on magnets.  They never truly touch the ground.  It may be as close to hover cars as we get.

Cars are very American and have all the problems Americans do: they take up way too much space, they cost too much, and they aren’t efficient.  On the other hand, their benefits are American benefits: you control your own destiny.  You choose everything from the destination to the air temperature to your company (or lack thereof).

Growing up in the Southwest, there was never a lack of good driving weather or parking.  Living as I do now in the Northwest, there are definitely bad days to drive and parking can be a headache.  As I’ve never loved to drive the way most American men are supposed to, this has given me a good excuse to use my car less.

In the future, transportation will be a series of pneumatic tubes.  We’ll simply remove our brains, toss them into the tube of our choosing, and have a spare body waiting for our brain at the other end.  Until that day, we muddle through the best we can.