I’ve owned a variety of cars since turning that magical age of 16,
many years not so long ago. So I’ve never really had too much need for mass public transit. That is until a few months after being involved in 2 seperate accidents in a three month period. Which by the way were not my fault! I swear! Needless to say the accidents have done enough of a head trip that’s caused me to trade in my wheels for a good pair of shoes and a Fastpass.
Since I’ve been using the transit system on a pretty regular basis I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s most definitely not user friendly.
My first day of riding the bus could have easily landed me in jail, a mental ward or at the very least the nearest local bar! I completely admit to being navigationally impaired. Trust me if I could grasp the whole north south east west thing I would! But it’s a simple fact that not everyone is born with the common knowledge of how to ride the bus or train. Having bus drivers yell at me for asking questions, or have the machine reject my recently purchased bart card that still had 3.00 left on it which resulted in me missing my train after waiting to exchange it for a new card is definitely cause for a breakdown or a really hard drink.
My other major complaint is what I’ve started referring to as the Cinderella transit time. When I first started my public transit adventure I lived in the East bay and my social life resided in the city. This required having to usually take a bus to the Bart station and taking Bart into the city. I’m not sure how late other East bay buses run but the bus I rode in Alameda had its last run at 10:18pm. This was frustrating to say the least because if you know me you know that I’m also not so time friendly. When I had my car I didn’t usually start getting ready to go out till 10pm and now I was faced with the dilemma of having to be ready and at the bus stop by 10, or pay 4 times the amount on a cab,or just stay home and hope that something good was the pay per view. However If I did actually happen to make it to the city my other problem was …………how to get home?
Bart stops running at midnight or at the most a few minutes afterwards. The majority of my friends live in the city so having them run me across the bridge, completely out of their way was just not feasible which left me with the choice to either get to Bart by midnight (cinderella transit time) and cab home, or take the Transbay bus which in theory is a really great idea – Pay 3 bucks and be home in 20 minutes. The problem lies in the fact that at 3 in the morning the Transbay Terminal also doubles as a crash pad for those who either have no home or are too drunk/high to find theirs. Not the greatest environment for a girl to be alone in at that time of night. I tried it once and didn’t even last 10 minutes before I walked to the Bart station to basically kill a couple of hours till the train started running again.
I’ve recently come to reside in the city and while taking a bus to work is fairly simple it can add up to be pretty expensive on a daily basis. I’ve purchased the monthly fastpass which is good for both Muni and Bart, but only in the city. I still travel to the East bay a lot to pick up my mail and see my Aunt and other friends. The pass doesn’t work for Bart once you cross the bridge so I’m required to purchase tickets for my east bay trips seperately. The monthly tickets for any of the transit providers come out to a few dollars less than full fare but when you add up daily commuting, and the fact that the majority of them are not interchangable it just increases the frustration of having to rely on public transit.
I’m not completely bitter jaded on the transit system though. I completely love the 511 Transit site and could almost be their spokesperson as often as I tell everyone about it. It gets me from point A to point B and tells me all the steps in between including total trip cost and any alerts along the way. I also love not having the gazillion parking tickets to worry about or the lack of parking and all the walking I’ve been doing lately has let me see more of the city that I love on a whole new perspective. Not to mention what the occasional whistle from a driver passing by can do for a girl on a bad hair day.