Friday, July 10, 2009

Public Transportation

The car has become a secular sanctuary for the individual, his shrine to the self, his mobile Walden Pond.  ~Edward McDonagh

This is the part where I am supposed to laud the wonders of public transportation. Marvel at the ease and organization of getting around sans automobile.

Not really feeling it.

For starters, it rains here. A lot. Which means I often get caught in the rain. You can never plan for the rain, you just have to assume it will rain at some point during the day. Never mind the blue sky with out a cloud on the horizon. Within twenty minutes it can be just the opposite. As a rule of thumb it goes like this, if you bring the rain gear, it won’t rain. If you don’t bring it, it will rain.

It never rains in my car or my garage. Especially since I live in the desert. I've really kind of engineered my life to be away from rain. In Phoenix, we get six inches of rain a year; even then I complain.

Also, there are never strangers in my car. The only people in my car, besides myself, are people I allow in. Public transportation forces me to share space with the rabble. People that, quite frankly, would never see the inside of my car.

I was always lead to believe public transportation was cheap. Transportation for the worker. The Proletariat’s Chariot. Ha! It will cost me $250 a month for 30 day unlimited subway/bus/train cards for my family of four. I checked my household accounting records and saw that in a bad month I would only spend about $200 a month to gas up two autos in the States.

For a single trip through two zones (the minimum) the cost would be somewhere around $5 USD. For a single trip. Apparently this subway thing wasn’t intended for families.

So, it leaves me rather confused. I can’t live in most of the suburbs because “it’s where all the social problems are”, having a car is discouraged due to the environmental impact (though many Swedes do drive) and using public transportation is nearly as expensive as having a car and ten times less convenient. It’s no small wonder so many Swedes remain childless.

Though, I am at least some degree thankful for the cost because I reason it keeps the real ne’er-do-wells off the subway and simply on the streets where apparently they belong in a “compassionate society”.

We could have had a car. A car was part of the compensation for coming here. We opted to trade it out for a larger, nicer apartment and high priced tuition in an international school. (damn you, global  recession!) Our reasoning was a car would be more of a hindrance in the city. We reasoned public transportation and walking would be OK.

After all, you can actually have a parking spot in a garage a block from your apartment. I’d still end up walking in the rain. Perhaps we were right and I will catch on to this public transport thing. In the meantime, I have caught myself eyeing the ‘SMART” cars and saying, “maybe one of those wouldn’t be too bad”. My daughter quickly reins me back in, reminding me we wouldn't all fit in the tiny car.

I think about it for a minute and add, "Sure we could, you just gotta think outside the box. Reese could sit on your lap."

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