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April 28, 2011

Transit provides heightened point of view

by Nicole Schlosser

The Cog Railway train, headed up Pikes Peak.

On a brief vacation last week, I got the chance to see some beautiful parts of Colorado, a state I had never visited before. During that time, I realized just how much your work can influence your outlook on life in subtle ways. For me, that meant paying more attention to public transit options that I had previously taken for granted while out of town. 

My brother-in-law recently moved to Colorado Springs, so my husband and I visited him. One of the points of interest we really wanted to see was Pikes Peak. At 14,155 feet high, it provides views, we were told, that span as far as Kansas and New Mexico on a clear day.

You can drive up to the top of the mountain or take a train. Since our trip up the Peak was planned on Earth Day, we opted for the rail, to at least attempt to be a bit more eco-friendly. We took the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, which claims to be the highest cog railroad in the world.

To make the steep climb, with about a 25 percent grade at some points, according to the tour guide, the railroad employs a “cog wheel,” which fits into a rack rail in the middle of the outer rails. It took about an hour and a half on the nine-mile track to get to the top. I saw some of my favorite views — of rock formations, waterfalls and Aspen trees — before we even got to the summit. Since my photos don’t really do them justice, check out the Pikes Peak Cog Railway website.

I am sure that the views at the top were stunning and wish I could describe them. However, the temperature was 15° F, with a wind chill of -7° F. So, putting my Chicago roots to shame, I ran into the gift shop and hung out there with a cup of coffee while my husband and brother-in-law took photos. These photos of the train at the summit were taken by my husband, by the way. His always turn out much better than mine.

Writing for a public transportation magazine has substantially changed my outlook on travel. During the ride, I found myself wondering how many of the passengers on the train have access to public transportation and make use of it, and how many think public transit is a waste of tax dollars, yet still benefited from the rail tour, kicking back and enjoying the view on the way up. I wondered how many car trips were saved and how many pounds of carbon dioxide were kept out of the air.

Before, though I was a frequent user of transit where I used to live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I didn’t give much thought to its importance, especially when on vacation or business, and I assumed it was much easier to let friends, family or a cab drive me around. Now, I always look to transit options, and use them whenever possible on a trip and feel much better about my new point of view.

In case you missed it...

Read our METRO blog from OCTA CEO Will Kempton, "Transportation funding facing a changing landscape" here.


Nicole Schlosser

Senior Editor

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  • Paul[ April 29th, 2011 @ 1:58pm ]

    I am the same way whenever I travel. I always check out the transit system and usually find it quite easy to figure out. Last summer, while in the Bay area, I was able to get around quite nicel without a car, to the amazement of my auto oriented family and friends. It really give me a sense of satisaction.

  • Frank[ April 29th, 2011 @ 2:20pm ]

    Thanks for your Article Nicole. I am glad that their are some people that are for Ground Transportation. NRHS St Paul, MN

  • Ray Krueger[ April 29th, 2011 @ 3:31pm ]

    Nicole, congratulations on choosing a tier 1 tourist trip to the Pikes Peak Summit House. Too bad you didn't taste the freshly baked donuts with your coffee while you warmed yourself out of the frigid winds at 14,000ft+ summit. As a Chicagoan transplanted to Colorado Springs, I understand your appreciation for the sights here. Our community is struggling to maintain a viable transit system in the throes of slashed city budgets adversely affecting our transit-dependent citizens. Thanks for visiting our city.


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