Did I successfully make it the entire day without my car? Yes. Did it go as planned? No. Is that the fault of our mass transit system? Nope. If you haven't read it here is an equally long-winded intro.
I started the day off by taking my personal bike to my early morning work session. The day was pretty chilly but it was clear… At 4:50 in the morning, I took the Santa Fe trail and… it was pitch black. I had a headlight and taillight, which I could not have lived without. I was amazed at just how dark it was, and how empty it was.
Coming back, I was able to at least post a small video on tTwitter – it was still pretty empty out there, although it was one cool day between two warmer ones, so people may have skipped their morning run. At 7:15, it was light enough to ride without a light which was good – I had not charged my headlight and it was giving me a warning as I pulled up to Starbucks.
Each way took about 10 minutes, it takes about 5 by car. But it got my heart racing (particularly on a hill on the way back, as my rear derailleur was stuck on a heavy gear).
Lessons: 10 minute time impact, need to remember to make sure my lights are charged because its DARK. Also fix my commuter bike so I can change gears.
I have used bus systems a lot in busy cities I do not know. So, I did no prior research before embarking on the bus ride to a CPC meeting at City Hall. As I wrapped up cooking breakfast for my son and wife (which I got really aggressive on, why did I decide to make an egg/bacon/Brussels sprouts hash when I am on a schedule?) I thought: I wonder how I should pay? Surely they have an app.
Fortunately they did, so I just bought a day pass for the DART system for $5. For 24 hours, use whatever locally (doesn’t include TRE). It was great.
I used Google Maps, as I have in San Francisco, New York, London, Milan, etc., and walked to my first stop. It was an odd stop because it was on a sort of entrance/exit configuration. I noted the time, and ended up having to RUN to the stop…. And then I waited over 5 minutes. After checking the DART website the Google Maps app was off by 5 minutes… OK, but running was not required.
Then I got on the bus... Which I immediately realized was going the wrong direction. Got off at the next stop and waited another 10 minutes, then it was smooth sailing… Except we rode right by a stop much closer to my house!
Time impact: due to stupidity on my part, unknown, but I still made it in time because I didn’t really know how long it would take to get downtown.
Lessons Learned: look at the bus route on the actual map on Google Maps, you might find a better stop that suits your needs.
When I spend time downtown, I usually walk. I ended up going to the gym over lunch, but the walk ended up being quite long from City Hall, eating up a lot of time. A bike share is by the hour, but it probably would have served me better just to buy the hour at least one of the ways. I still have not used one of the serves, so I don’t know if you can pause the time, or if one hour is just the unit of purchase per bike. I didn’t use the bikes because of this (I did not have a trip that warranted 1 hour) but in hindsight I should have just done it. The walk was nice, though.
My plan was: after a brief public hearing on my project, to jump on the rail system and head to the office, and then head home. I have never traveled that far (Downtown to Richardson) and was really curious… The trip was going to take over an hour, and I wanted to see what sort of things I could get done on the train. However, due to some long and confusing cases ahead of us on the agenda, we stayed three hours longer – and heading to the office became unfeasible. I was sad about that, but still want to do it. Unfortunately on my office days thus far, I have had meetings first thing or last in the day and have not been able to not use a car… But I still want to do it.
Bus Ride Home
We had a nice happy hour with the participants of Ditch Your Car DFW, and conversation ended up running a bit late. I was thinking I would rent a bike share for the ride home but it was quite late, so I jumped on the bus. By the time I got home, I felt blisters starting to form on my feet, although I blame that on my cowboy boots that I wear every day and the overwalking I did going across downtown to the gym.
I haven’t taken the bus system in quite a while, and I know there seems to be a stigma in doing so. The busses were mostly empty, but they ran quickly and efficiently, and offered real time updates on the DART app if they were running late (mine ran one minute late once, pretty good by me). Another thought is the last time I used a bus system, particularly late at night, was in Rome a few years ago…. And this bus felt no different. The busses were clean and people were just getting around. End of story.
The event got me curious and I do want to incorporate more of this when I can. Not worrying about parking downtown was awfully nice, and the cost of the day pass was less than what I would have had to pay to park out there the whole day. I keep wanting to bike to my early morning sessions but when I get up I have just been on autopilot – and dress in things that are… not compatible with cycling. But I do still want to incorporate that more regularly.
I’m still going to take the rail up to the office, as coming back can sometimes take just as long as simply taking mass transit. Once I do that, I may post again.
So yeah, the system is good. It takes some planning and just jumping in your car is way easier. Its also faster, but – you can do absolutely nothing else while driving, as opposed to reading, working, and making your calls while someone else does the driving. It works – I just need to practice what this post preaches.