What is your 'Decision'... Car or Transit?

Posted on July 15, 2010 by Alex Roman - Also by this author

Unless you were under a rock last week, you no doubt were assaulted by the ridiculous media onslaught that accompanied the NBA's LeBron James and his "Decision" on where he would play next season. Well, a far less-publicized but quite meaningful decision was made in my household that very same week.

Quick background: I got married just last month to a wonderful woman who just completed her Master's Degree and is entering the professional workforce for a while until she applies for her Ph.D. Fortunately, her search was a quick one, as she landed a job a mere couple of weeks after our honeymoon. This is where "The Decision" came.

I LOVE the idea of public transit and use it occasionally in the city where I live — it is convenient, the schedules and headways are clear and consistent, and it boasts brand spanking new hybrid buses. Following long discussions with my former editor, which were soon followed by car issues, I decided a few years ago to give public transportation to work a shot and it was an absolute nightmare! Not only did it add a full three hours-plus to my daily commute, it was difficult to get around from city to city as most, I learned, are not as successful in providing services as where I live.

My new wife also LOVES public transportation and absolutely cannot stand driving. I mean, we all dislike driving, but she genuinely despises it and avoids it at all costs, preferring to walk or take the bus whenever necessary and, at times, avoiding trips that can be difficult to make without driving.

By chance, her new job is a few miles away from our offices, so after carefully plotting what could be her potential journey every morning and afternoon — a trip that would take close to two hours compared with the 30 to 45 minutes it would take if driving — she asked for my advice.

Sadly, I had nothing to say, no way to put a positive spin on taking a marathon trip via public transportation instead of the conveniences of simply driving a car, not to mention holding on to our all-important quality of life. And, while I felt guilty for betraying something I champion for a living and my own environmental beliefs, the sad truth is that, at least here in California, public transportation is not the most convenient mode to use when trying to get around every day, which played heavily in my wife's decision to drive her personal vehicle.

With all the cost and route cutting going on around the nation, I actually wonder if public transportation will ever overtake the personal vehicle. So, I was wondering, despite the additional time it may take you, do you use public transportation to get to work?


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