Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How will you travel bus, train or car?

My weekend ride to Jersey got me thinking about local travel and modes of travel in the city. Getting to or from point A or B is a must, how we do it, given several factors, makes a difference. There is a difference in cost to you, personally and the vehicle; your cost which include anxiety and frustration from traffic congestion, crazy drivers, no parking and parking tickets, pollution and the vehicle operating costs. Then for the vehicle, also your cost, is the ever rising cost of operating the vehicle; fuel cost, wear and tear and upkeep, insurance and pollution. Depending on where you live and what you do regularly, operating a vehicle might be the only sensible thing to do to get from point A to/from B.

Some of us have options and can make about modes of travel. I do a lot of driving back and forth to work and other activities – living. When I don’t have to drive, I try to get ‘there’ without paying attention to the road; the hustle and bustle of traffic and crazy drivers. I take the train, bus or subway and get a little exercise in the process. Taking long trips can also be a chore for me. If I am going alone and without much load/luggage, you bet I’m going mass transit, if it is available or if it makes sense in terms of availability and travel time.

Mass transit is not perfect, far from it. It has its own set of challenges and can also be very frustrating but it could be a good option. Some folks insists that it is better to use own transportation because it is faster, more comfortable and safe from vagrants. You can relax, stop if you like, for as long as you like, listen to music, talk on the phone, etc, etc. The time and the convenience are huge, but weigh the cost/value in the long run.

As I said earlier, If I want to chill out but get to point B or A, I may hit the bus stop or the subway/train station. It’s easy, relatively cost effective and does the trick. If I have to travel long distance, say a weekend visit for example, how I choose to go will depend on where and when I am traveling.

Mass transit is ramping up to get our attention and they are doing a great job. Why with double-decker trains and buses, and other expansions and improvement to the transit systems nationwide, we have several nice options to choose from. I was so taken with the double-decker trains only to find out that this is actually a re-introduction of them in some places. From my quick and sloppy research I see that the double-decker trains have been in business since the 1940’s, maybe earlier. The London Transport double-decker trains operated for about 22 years, retiring in 1971. I didn’t check to see if they were the first or only outfit operating at the time. (sloppy research). I see that in many other countries however, they have been operating and still going strong. Our Amtrak has a few in their fleet as well.

Today we are seeing the resurgence of them here. A new low cost inter state special run trains, Acer just came on the scene, and other commuter lines. We’ve known of and appreciated double-decker tour buses in the city. I know in London, England, those red double-decker buses are as famous as Piccadilly Square. Many countries around the world are also using double-decker buses as well for commuters from the UK to Canada, Malaysia to Japan, Germany to Ghana and many other countries.

Here in my fair city, we use double-decker buses as tour buses and now more and more we are seeing them for interstate travel as well, but they are different colors. I also found out that double-decker buses were the way to go along Fifth Avenue up until 1953. Unfortunately they tried to return them to the fleet in the 1970’s but they didn’t catch on. They are trying again though. I haven’t been on a double-decker bus for regular travel yet. I still think of them as sightseeing buses. How will you travel?

Driving saves time – it is quicker; less stops and delay from passengers getting on and off. You also go directly to your destination, not passing your destination point, in some cases, only to go some distance away then find your way back. So the lack of movement and freedom, extra time back to the destination, slow downs from stops to pick up and discharge passengers and limited space, driving might seem like a better alternative. The cost in terms of fuel and tolls, wear and tear on the driver and vehicle as well as the environmental factors are greater considerations for a solo trip, but maybe more beneficial for a group to take private vehicle.

Mass transit works out because it is like a carpool. You get better economy with a group. The cost of the ticket, relaxation with personal entertainment, stress free travel; no struggle through traffic, crazy driving, watching for speed traps, less pollution etc. This works for me!

I guess it all works out if you think in terms of your health and wellness; your psyche, and the benefits to the environment. The environment plays a major role in your quality of life- health and wellness- not to mention preservation of our world. Mass trans - 'it' when you can, for the good of it all. So, how will you travel, bus train or car?!

Check out these beauties!

British Double-decker bus
New York City Double-decker
NY Times photo, 5th Ave, 1953.

Inside the coach
Double-decker commuter train

Yellin photo, NJT
Alaska double-decker

Belgium double-decker train
Double decker in Japan

Megabus interstate travel
NYC Sightseeing tour bus
For more information on these photos or for more details on double-decker buses and trains visit

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