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Posts Tagged ‘public transportation’

Fourth day of green watching. My recent car trips, driving my daughter around, have brought home a new reality. I no longer enjoy being in my car. How else can I explain my rush to get home? Speeding way past the 65mph limit on the freeway, whenever I could. And getting in touch with the unpleasantness of being boxed in, and at the mercy of traffic. Not being able to do much else, other than tune in to NPR. And then, what do you do, when the program sucks?

Nearly a year ago, I wrote emphatically:

The truth is, I looooove my car. What is there not to like? The immediacy, the convenience, the privacy, the spaciousness, the experience of moving around in my little cocoon. I can get on the phone while I drive, listen to NPR, spread my stuff on the passenger seat. I don’t have to worry about the other cars so much, I am not as invisible as on a bike. I can cram a lot more activities in the day. I am free to go wherever, freeway if I please, don’t have to plan. No need for a disgraceful helmet. I can wear a dress without having to worry about it flying off. I had never thought about all the advantages, until now. Ask my sixteen year old daughter, car = freedom. Not what the green people want to hear, but the truth nevertheless.

I can’t help but notice the change. As convenient as my car is, let’s face it, it pales in comparison to the pleasure I get from riding my bike, or working on my laptop when taking the train. If only, we had a better transportation infrastructure! More trains and buses, more frequently, and cheaper. And environments, designed to enhance riders’ experiences.

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A table is worth a thousand words. This one appeared in a short op-ed piece by Paul Krugman, in the New York Times

Boy, am I proud to be French sometimes!

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Day 10 of Daily Footprint Project. I had to attend a business meeting in San Francisco late in the evening. Full of good intentions, I had planned to take the train.

Until I looked at the Caltrain schedule.

My meeting was from 6.30 to 8.30. The next train was at 10pm. I would not have gotten home until 11.15. Driving got me home at 9.15 instead. I am willing to go only so far with my green-ness. Two hours make a huge difference, especially this late at night. That’s a distance of 72 miles I could have not driven, if only the Caltrain system had been a bit more responsive to my needs.

I don’t know how many other folks go through this kind of calculated trade off. Huge invonvenience and pure green-ness, versus no hassle and a smeared green conscience. Again, economics come into play. Do the numbers warrant more late night trains? What is the cost of running more trains? Financial costs? Carbon pollution costs?

Upon further examination, I found this to be a hot issue in the Bay Area. Several advocacy organizations have been stirring the pot. The local papers have written articles on the subject. The real problem is not so much Caltrain, as the lack of a sound overall strategy for the whole Bay Area public transit. The train (Caltrain), bus (VTA), and subway (BART) authorities need to work together with local residents. This raises questions of leadership, priorities, and policy.

VTACaltrainBART

Daily Footprint Project
Daily Log
Day #10

Water

personal:
flush toilet 4
wash face 2
brush teeth 2
wash hands 5
two showers at the gym
mom:
communal:

Electricity/gas

personal:
electric toothbrush 2
microwave tea 4’
microwave oatmeal 4’
laptop on half day
mom:
heat chocolate milk
communal:
lights

Food

personal:
oatmeal with organic milk
organic orange
tea
organic milk
organic chicken soup
organic bread
mom:
organic blueberry muffin
organic hot chocolate
communal:
pizza takeout
salad

Waste

personal:
toilet paper
orange peel
salad veggie peelings
mom:
communal:
3 newspaper plastic wrappers

Recycling

personal:
mom:
communal:
2 papers
4 pizza cardboard boxes Transportation

personal:
drive to gym 6 miles
drive to San Francisco 72 miles
mom:
communal:

Non food shopping

personal:
mom:
communal:
 

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I got all excited with the news of the Google Transit website, as reported on Ecogeek, and Autobloggreen. Here was another cool tool to help me optimize my local transportation. Imagine my disappointment when I did not see Caltrain on their list. Right now, with their current alternatives, it would take me 3hrs 39′ to get from Palo Alto to San Francisco, using my two feet, multiple buses and BART. I guess they are still in the process of building up the site! Still, check it out. There is a need for more simple Internet green tools like this.

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