Today’s National Dump the Pump Day, when all are encouraged to take public transit instead of driving (via The Source). For some MNN readers, this day's a no-brainer since they already take the subway, bus, or bike to work. For others in areas where public transit systems and bicycle networks are less robust, days like these cause feelings of guilt and frustration — because while the desire to go car-free is there, the infrastructure is not.
If you're one of those feeling guilty and frustrated, I suggest using this day as a motivator to get to know just one bus or rail line near you. Sure, that line may not take you everywhere you need to go, or even to the places you go most frequently. But ride it a couple times, and you'll find out it takes you to some key spots in town, saving you car trips.
In fact, getting to know just one bus line can introduce you to new spots you didn't realize were so accessible and fun to visit. And some places, you might discover, are actually easier to get to by bus than by car.
To use L.A. as an example: In this still car-centric town, some trips are still very cumbersome to make by bus. Trying to get from Santa Monica to Mar Vista or Culver City, for example, often involves at least a couple buses, some of which take rather tortuous, stop-and-go routes through residential neighborhoods that'll make the carsickness-prone people very nauseous.
On the other hand, getting from Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles is a breeze, despite the fact that that the trip's a much longer distance. Why? The Big Blue Bus Rapid 10 bus is extremely efficient, picking up people along Santa Monica and Lincoln on the westside before cruising up the carpool lane onto the 10 freeway. I took this bus last Saturday, and I'm happy to say that I made the 14-mile trip in 25-minutes flat, well in time for the Women of the Green Generation mini-conference where I moderated a panel on green business.
Plus, I avoided all the car-related miseries of traveling downtown: The traffic jams, the confusing one-way streets, the inevitable frustrating search for metered parking, the high parking fees at a lot when the metered parking search comes to naught. The money savings of bussing it downtown are obvious, but the time-savings provided by this no-parking transit option also ends up being quite remarkable!
So — I urge you, if you haven't already, to pick a line, any line, and get to know it. If you end up hating that transit line, pick another one and try again. A couple attempts, and you'll find a transit line that actually makes some of your trips not only greener but also easier, cheaper and more enjoyable.
What is your favorite public transit line in your neighborhood?
Also on MNN: MARTA's Dump the Pump Day contest