By on February 11, 2016

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I’ll start with this: Hannah, wherever you are, I do not apologize for stealing your car. You were a real b— … well, white men like myself aren’t allowed to use the “b-word” nowadays, it’s considered more harmful to womyn than all 359 of those sexual offences that happened in Cologne that we’ve all agreed to pretend didn’t really happen. Why don’t we just say that you’re a very mean person. I don’t apologize for that, or for stealing your car.

Now, where were we, to use three words in a row that start with “w” and end with “e”? Well, it’s like this:


Last week, I had a date with a supercar. This car was located at a dealership in Palo Alto, CA. The plan was to fly from Columbus, Ohio, get to the car Thursday morning, take the car to a racetrack on Friday, then return it to the dealer and fly home at 6 a.m. Saturday morning so I could have the weekend with my son. Picking the flight was easy: Southwest has a nonstop from CMH to OAK pretty much every morning of the week. It would get me there by 9 a.m.

My plan from there was nearly as simple: I’d rent a car at the airport, drive it to the supercar dealer, leave it there, pick it up when I dropped off my loaner car, and then drive it back to the airport. Doing so would cost me about $78 in rental fees.

Remember that number. Seventy-eight dollars.

It could have been very easy. Unfortunately for me, however, Danger Girl, my companion for this trip, starting having ideas. Ideas about public transport and doing things “the way they’re done in the city” and so on and so forth. Now, if I’ve learned anything in the past 44 years, it’s that the combination of women and ideas is almost always dangerous to me. Yet I often neglect to remember this basic fact at precisely the time that it would be most useful for me to remember it.

Our flight arrived early, at about 8:50 a.m. We exited the plane at Oakland. Google Maps told us that it would be a 55 minute drive to the dealership, but we were going to make the morally superior choice of taking public transportation. There’s a new spur of the BART train that takes you from Oakland to the main station. The mini-BART was very pleasant and moved very quickly, except for the time where it stopped for five minutes or so for no reason in the middle of nowhere. Upon reaching the Coliseum/Airport station, we each paid $10 for a BART ticket and took a train headed for Union City. This train was not pleasant. It smelled like some combination of a long-dead animal and an upended porta-potty on a hot day.

There was a beautiful young blonde woman nervously holding her bicycle two seats down from us. It made me smile, to see such a typical California Girl in my first half-hour in California. Everybody else looked like an extra from “The Hills Have Eyes.” One fellow down at the other end of the car, near the largest of the vomit stains, regarded Danger Girl with steady eyes and a blank expression beneath his ragged, dirty hoodie. His right hand was tucked behind the waistband of his cargo pants.

The BART itself sounded and moved like nothing so much as a train that was about to either catch on fire or exit its elevated tracks without warning. No New York subway I’ve ever ridden could compare to the noise this thing made. But it was okay; we were still $55 up.

We exited at Union City and started looking for a bus described by Google Maps as the M BRT FRY K-POP or something like that. The fourth bus driver to whom we gave the description sent us to the right bus. Since we didn’t have a bus card, we paid $10 in cash to ride. Our driver was a very nice man. “We’ll be at the Stanford station at ten of.”

“It’s ten of now,” I said.

“That’s ten of ten. I mean ten of eleven.” We covered seven miles in just under an hour, picking up, dropping off. A lot of nurses, a lot of working people who looked tired and sad. But the bus itself was relatively clean and the driver gave us plenty of advice for our next step. “You’ll want to catch the 522 over. But you’ll need a different card. I’ll give you a transfer ticket, but the driver can decide whether or not he takes it.”

Upon reaching Palo Alto, just in time to begin the third hour of our journey, I saw what might be the 522 bus across the island. Google said this final bus would have us within three-tenths of a mile of the dealership in approximately 42 minutes.

“The hell with this,” I said. “I’m going to call an Uber.” I brought up the app. It estimated an $11 fare and a pickup within four minutes. A tiny picture of a vaguely Asian-looking fellow appeared next to the words, “Toyota Prius”.

Three minutes later, a vaguely Asian-looking fellow in a Prius C pulled up. “Oh shit, it’s a Prius C,” I moaned. Danger Girl and I crammed in, holding our Tumi duffels on our laps. “It’s only four miles.” As we pulled away, the phone rang. It was my Uber driver.

“Where are you?” he asked.

“Uh, in the car?”

“No, I’m driving around and don’t see you!” Meanwhile, the guy who was apparently not our Uber driver was on the speakerphone.

“YOU FUCKING LEFT ME!” There was a woman screaming.

“Uh, I see somebody waving and jumping behind us,” Danger Girl said.

“She’s wearing a peacoat. It’s 64 degrees outside,” I observed. “Turn around, I guess,” I told our non-driver, then turned to my phone so I could talk to the guy who was supposed to be my driver, “I’ll meet you back at the bus station.”

“THE BUS STATION?” he repeated. “I’M NOWHERE NEAR THE BUS STATION! YOU GIVE WRONG ADDRESS!”

“Technically,” I clarified, “the address comes from the appli-”

“I CANCEL YOU NOW!” Then he hung up.

“You are not Hannah?” my non-driver asked me.

“No, I’m not Hannah.”

“Hannah is jumping up and down back there,” Danger Girl clarified. We turned around and returned to Hannah, who was letting out kind of a wordless scream.

“Sorry, Hannah,” I said, but she pushed past me. I did her the courtesy of falling backwards onto my recently-broken left leg instead of dropping her with a shoulder hit like Ronnie Lott in his prime. Hannah slammed her door shut then started screaming at me from behind the glass. I’m not much of a lip-reader, but I was pretty sure I knew what she was saying. “I think,” I told Danger Girl, “she called me a ‘cis rapist.'”

“Like a sissy rapist? Does that have anything to do with the ‘Gorilla Mindset’ book somebody sent you?”

“Honestly,” I told her, “it probably does.” After a moment spent collecting myself and my belongings on the curb, I pulled up the Uber app. It told me that I was being charged $5 for the driver who canceled. It also told me that the nearest Uber was fourteen minutes away.

“We could take the bus,” Danger Girl suggested.

“FUCK THE BUS,” I snarled, and we trudged over to the smiling Sikh and his Crown Victoria taxi. I had to give him directions, but other than that the only problems were the glacial, exceedingly polite pace of his driving and the $17.30 charge for driving us three miles. I handed him a twenty and stepped out of the car. We were now up to $45. It was 11:42, almost three hours after we’d left the airport. We’d traveled 32 miles, making our average pace about eleven miles an hour. We looked like homeless people, but the dealership held its collective nose and gave me the keys anyway.

After nearly 500 miles’ worth of driving around Northern California, including a lovely blast to Stinson Beach and four brilliant sessions at Thunderhill, we made our plans to return the car. We had a friend who lived in Burlingame who was willing to drive us from Palo Alto back to the airport early in the morning. But at 7 p.m. on Friday evening, he texted us and said that he was “too sick” — meaning “too busy watching Netflix” — to fulfill his promise. So we’d have to take Uber, or a taxi. But here was the problem: we couldn’t guarantee that an Uber or a taxi would be available in Palo Alto at 4 a.m. on Saturday morning.

“I have a brilliant idea,” Danger Girl said. “We’ll drive to the airport and rent a car. Then we’ll drop this car off at the dealership and take the rental car back.” Perfect! We’d avoid the train, the taxi, and the Uber all at once. We’d steer our own course. Maybe even go through a drive-thru on the way out to our hotel in Santa Cruz that evening.

“Sounds great,” I replied.

“And since I’m a National super-elite thingy member, even after stealing that Challenger, we can have a really nice car for the price of a regular one.”

“Great. What’s a regular one cost?” Danger Girl fussed with her iPhone screen.

“For a ten-hour rental, on short notice? Hmm… okay, I see it. Looks like the price will be…” Her brow furrowed. “Seventy-eight dollars.”

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148 Comments on “No Fixed Abode: Planes, Trains, Ubers, Taxis, And Supercars...”


  • avatar
    dwford

    And yet, a certain subset of politicians is hellbent on getting us out of personal cars and into public transportation. I’ll pass.

    Your Uber driver made the classic mistake, not confirming the identity of the people getting into his car. Uber 101.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Huh, come to think of it, they do always say “Are you ____?” when you get in.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      You should get down on your hands and knees and thank the Lord above for public transportation. Without it, our economy would grind to a screeching halt…as would our highways. Not the prettiest way to get around, but it’s essential.

    • 0 avatar
      baconator

      Danger Girl made the classic mistake, assuming that San Franciscans actually ride public transit just because the city is so legendarily liberal. I live in SF, and the city surveys *still* say that the vast majority of us get to work by driving ourselves in our own cars. No local resident, at least not one who had a choice, would try to get from the airport to Palo Alto via public transit.

      And also, yes, you absolutely would get an Uber at 4AM in Palo Alto.

      • 0 avatar
        WhatDaFunk

        I live in San Francisco, and if it’s not in walking distance I almost always drive. The public transport within the city isn’t bad (I wouldn’t say it’s great though), but if you’re going anywhere outside of the city that isn’t within walking distance of a Bart station it’s a huge pain in the ass.

  • avatar
    Brian E

    Everybody needs to learn the hard way what BART trains smell like once so that they can never, ever make that mistake again.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Welcome to the world of public transportation. Its fans in government think it would be just fine for you to endure it every day. Of course, they would be chauffeured around in full size SUVs at taxpayer expense.

  • avatar

    “Danger Girl” lives up to her name. Public transportation in any large metro area is dangerous business indeed.

    Just a thought here: Accepting advice from anyone you call “Danger Girl” seems unwise.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      In countries with more developed public transport than America (like Asian or European ones), it’s much more pleasant, and much less murder-robbery.

      • 0 avatar
        threeer

        Agreed. I grew up in Germany and at an age where most of my fellow teen Americans were dreaming of their first car, I either took the excellent public transportation (Strassenbahn or bus) or rode my Peugeot ten-speed. The transportation was always clean (and punctual) and efficient. It seems to me that mass transit in countries like Germany isn’t looked down upon as it appears to be here in America. Don’t get me wrong, I love having my own car, but if I ever were to live in Germany again, I’d likely not need to use one every day and wouldn’t balk at riding public transportation.

        • 0 avatar
          John

          Bingo – grew up in Montreal, Canada, spent some time around Yokohama/Kawasaki, Japan. Wonderful, wonderful public transportation both places. In Montreal, a lot of businesses and buildings have underground entraces attached to the subway, so when it’s -27 degrees F, or there is four feet of snow, you don’t have to go outside.

          • 0 avatar
            JuniperBug

            I live in Montreal and own two (old, but fully-functional) cars. I still take the bus/metro several times a week. My brother in Toronto was making somewhere in the $200k neighbourhood and went for years without a car. He’s the only guy I know who put down $10k on a Nissan 350Z lease, but after 7,000 miles in two years deemed it not worth the trouble.

            I also lived for a brief time in Switzerland and go to Germany a few times per month. I have no qualms about taking public transportation there, either, nor do people making several times more money than me.

            Regarding the US, unless you’re high-rolling enough to have a personal driver, I imagine that public transit is a way of life in Manhattan, too. San Francisco seemed public-transit-friendly, as well, and Chicago struck me as doable. In much of the rest of the country, not so much.

            My girlfriend and I took the bus from the airport to the strip in Fort Lauderdale, and while it didn’t bother us, it became clear very quickly that nobody else who could qualify for credit with Mitsubishi (or cab fare) chose to do the same.

        • 0 avatar
          Toad

          German public transportation is pleasant and clean because it is used by, get ready for this, Germans. Clean, tidy, law abiding people.

          If only Germans rode American public transportation it would also be clean, tidy, and full of polite people. But it isn’t, so it’s not.

          If all Americans behaved like northern Europeans we could have a society that functioned like northern Europe. But we don’t, so we can’t. For better or worse.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        Certainly more pleasant in Europe but the murder-robbery they don’t have isn’t the development of the system, it’s the development of the riders. More money can fix excess changeovers and slow service, and in the few metro areas here where they spent the money to build a real subway it did, but it doesn’t fix the slobs, thugs, and violently insane that you’re sharing it with.

        America is a first world country with Somalia – in a civilization sense, not a racial one – distributed through it.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          We let anyone in, don’t you know? Especially if they’re from countries where terrorism is common. We owe them a living and a place to live, no matter their background.

          #merica

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Many other nations let in more immigrants/refugees either per capita or in total numbers than the USA yet still have a much lower crime rate and far superior public transportation.

            In the USA public transit was starved of funds in favour of the vehicle manufacturers. For example check out the history of public transit in LA and how General Motors sabotaged it.

            Secondly if income disparity continues to grow in the USA, eventually the police may have to take the form of an occupying force in many areas, in order to protect the rich from those with nothing or little to lose. A dystopia forseen in many SciFi stories/movies.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            Our biggest problems come from descendants of those we *dragged* here in the first place and from those who were never “let” in.

            We *are* exceptional that way.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            CoreyDL,
            Look at the history of America: We let in Jews from Eastern Europe where terrorism was common. We let in Italians from Southern Italy where terrorism (organized crime + anti-imperial violence) were common. We let in Irish, who were ‘terrorists’ vs. British rule. We’ve welcomed people of all different faiths who were persecuted for those faiths.

            America has a proud legacy of welcoming those who are fleeing violence. Today’s Syrian refugees strike me as no different from most of our ancestors.

            More Americans have been shot by their dogs (6 in the last decade) than have been shot by refugees in terrorist attacks.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “For example check out the history of public transit in LA and how General Motors sabotaged it.”

            Lots of historical revisionism in that statement.

            What doomed the Red Car system was the failure to municipalize it. Ridership was already falling prior to WWII as cars took over; it was a street-based surface-level system, so all of that car traffic slowed down the trains.

            Instrumental in the fight against burying and elevating the system was the then-conservative LA Times, which likened such a thing to a northeastern urban horror story that many LA residents had fled. The city government was busy planning a series of parkways (later freeways) during the 1930s, and managed to get a few of them built before the war — Los Angeles was the first area of the US west of the Mississippi to have limited access highways.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            “We let anyone in, don’t you know?”

            You mean, people like my grandparents? They were refugees too, from Russia, where terrorists called “cossacks” regularly visited atrocities on villages like the one my grandmother came from. And not too long after they came here, the area they lived in was taken over by the Nazis, so if they hadn’t emigrated, they’d have likely spent their last earthly moments in a gas chamber.

            And when they came they had no real marketable skills. They didn’t speak English all the time either. My grandfather learned tailoring and conducted all his business in Yiddish. So much for becoming “Americanized,” I guess.

            And yet, their son did well enough to end up with a 4500-square-foot house on an acre lot, with a pool and two Benzes in the driveway, and enough money to put his three kids through college…AND left a nice amount of money and a business to his wife when he passed away. Two of his sons work in the business today.

            And I’m doing OK too.

            And you know what? I think folks from other places besides Russia deserve the same chance at a better life that my grandparents got.

            #merica, indeed. God bless it.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            It’s an American tradition for the descendants of immigrants to complain about the current generation of immigrants.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I’m a descendant of Native Americans.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Comparing immigration in the 1800’s in a localized/regional world isn’t really the same as immigration in 2016 after globalization and international terrorism.

            Lots more things can go wrong.

          • 0 avatar
            chuckrs

            @Arthur Dailey

            Let’s wait a bit and see how the Europeans do with the massive influx they have – levels we haven’t seen in a century or so. From news articles I’ve read, a large percentage of their refugees are single men of warfighting age. And their actions are those of conquerors with all the mercy of the Red Army rolling into Berlin spring 1945.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @CoryDL – being a descendant of Native Americans shines a whole new light on your comment, “We let anyone in, don’t you know?”

            Damn, if only Trump was a native in 1492….

            I’d build a wall and bill those Spaniards for it…….

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff Weimer

        So?

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          @pch101;
          Posted what I learned from some readings and documentaries particularly on the rail system that existed in LA and GM’s investment in the transit system which resulted in the replacement of other rolling stock with GM buses.

          The companies involved were charged and convicted although the fines imposed were purely symbolic.

          In many other nations light rail/subway public transit started to appear in its modern form or was greatly expanded after WWII either due to the destruction of the previous infrastructure or the population boom that occurred after the war. Why is it that in some cities such as L.A. the opposite happened?

          When Toronto opened its subway system in 1954 there were less than 15 existing Metro systems in the world and many of those were not underground.

          Below is a brief synopsis from Wikipedia (which I admit is not always correct) and another source on the net:
          On April 9, 1947, nine corporations and seven individuals (officers and directors of certain of the corporate defendants) were indicted in the Federal District Court of Southern California on counts of “conspiring to acquire control of a number of transit companies, forming a transportation monopoly” and “conspiring to monopolize sales of buses and supplies to companies owned by National City Lines”[35] which had been made illegal by the 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act. In 1948, the venue was changed from the Federal District Court of Southern California to the Federal District Court in Northern Illinois following an appeal to the United States Supreme Court (in United States v. National City Lines Inc.)[36] which felt that there was evidence of conspiracy to monopolize the supply of buses and supplies.[37]

          In 1949, Firestone Tire, Standard Oil of California, Phillips Petroleum, GM and Mack Trucks were convicted of conspiring to monopolize the sale of buses and related products to local transit companies controlled by NCL; they were acquitted of conspiring to monopolize the ownership of these companies. The verdicts were upheld on appeal in 1951.[38] GM was fined $5,000 and GM treasurer H.C. Grossman was fined $1.[39] The trial judge said “I am very frank to admit to counsel that after a very exhaustive review of the entire transcript in this case, and of the exhibits that were offered and received in evidence, that I might not have come to the same conclusion as the jury came to were I trying this case without a jury,” [40] explicitly noting that he might not himself have convicted in a bench trial.

          http://moderntransit.org/ctc/ctc06.html

          The Key System takeover in 1946

          General Motors has admitted to making “investments” in National City Lines in 1939 and other years (which they didn’t all list). This “front” company, National City Lines, acquired 64% of the stock of the Key System (officially the Railway Equipment and Realty Company) in 1946. The destruction of this transit system is detailed in previous pages.

          Los Angeles metropolitan area

          The Los Angeles system consisted of two companies, Los Angeles Railway, with 1042 yellow streetcars, and Pacific Electric, with 437 red electric cars. At least one line was quad tracked for express train service. Pacific Electric had a subway thru downtown Los Angeles. [Figures from PUC Special Study TR-23, 1944].

          General Motors has admitted that “GM made … investments in American City Lines in 1943.” Soon, American City Lines was buying stock in Los Angeles Railway. By May 1, 1945, they owned 59% of the outstanding stock. The same month, the Los Angeles Railway announced plans to scrap most of the streetcar lines [Source: Moody’s]. Pacific Electric was acquired in 1953. By then, a number of lines had already been acquired and destroyed via Pacific City Lines [Source: Hearings before the Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust and Monopoly: American Ground Transport, 1974]. The Hollywood Blvd. line was destroyed in 1954 and the Glendale-Burbank line in 1955, both using the subway under downtown LA.

          Kerosene was poured on the streetcars and electric trains and they were burned,

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The point remains is that the city didn’t want to take it over.

            The privately operated streetcar and subway systems that were built in the early 20th century and earlier and that survived after WWII did so because they were taken over by government — they were money losers and required subsidies. That did not happen in LA, which was then a conservative town that was fiercely anti-union and pro-freeway. During the 30’s, they developed a vision to build parkways and rely upon buses for mass transit, and that’s exactly what ended up happening after WWII.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        Europe(Continental) and Japan are epic. But even Bart beats the heck out of driving a car in San Francisco and across the bridges. They just need to extend it through the Marina and to Marin, and down the Sunset.

        I’m by no means some government apologist, but in practice, dependence on individual cars in urban cores, equates to zoning laws limiting density. Which is a much bigger cost and problem, than budgeting for some decent public transportation will ever be.

    • 0 avatar

      Man from NYC here. I lived in California. I know how bad its public transportation can be. But when you boys talk mass transit, you sound like a bunch of wuss crybabies. It’s just not that bad.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        “Accepting advice from anyone you call “Danger Girl” seems unwise.”

        Yes but this is Jack we are talking about. Half of his stories contain lines like “So then Danger Girl says…”

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @Pch101, Thanks but was it that ‘the City did not want to take it over’ or that the process was subverted?

        I understand that many of the accusations regarding the Great American Streetcar Scandal are disputed. Depending upon your political leaning you may consider it a true conspiracy or an urban myth. However the fact that General Motors, Standard Oil and Firestone controlled a company that eventually bought and operated the public transit systems in approximately 83 American cities including L.A, seems to demonstrate some sort of concerted effort to subvert rail and light rail transit systems.

        See: Taken for a Ride,” a 55-minute film shown on PBS regarding the alleged Great American Streetcar Scandal.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Again, in the US, the rail systems that survived were municipalized, while those that were not municipalized were dismantled because there was no money to be made from running them.

          LA was a conservative backwater at the time and not inclined to take over the system — it favored freeways, and had a plan to build them early on. Even if GM had not endeavored to benefit from the failure of the streetcar system, it was already losing riders. It’s not that complicated.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @Pch101: Wasn’t LA during the mid/late 30’s one of the most corrupt cities in American history?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The ridership was falling, regardless. The systems were losing money.

            LA had sprawl as a result of the rail system, which had been built by private developers in order to increase the value of their far-flung subdivisions, so the place was well suited to adapting to the car. Streets congested with cars did not help the streetcars to operate efficiently. The survival of the system was prolonged by WWII, thanks to gas rationing combined with an economy that had full employment.

            The reality is that much of the rest of the US didn’t municipalize their streetcar systems, either. The cities where transit survived were those in which local governments took over. New York took over independent systems and combined them; San Francisco’s is called MUNI because the municipality took over the private lines as they became unprofitable. Transit systems lose money, hence the need to take them over.

            The US engaged in massive highway building programs after WWII, which included intra-urban freeways and suburban development, so mass transit was considered to be unnecessary. The car appeared to be the future.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Depends on the metro area and the neighborhood you’re in. Here in Denver, the train system is quite pleasant, and the commuter buses from my suburb to downtown aren’t bad either. I still prefer having a car to get around, but if I had to take public transit, I’d live.

    • 0 avatar
      paxman356

      I’ve been on two systems in big cities here in the US I really liked. Chicago, going from Midway to the Loop with my wife/then girlfriend was okay. At the time we got an all day pass for $5 each, and it included buses. While not the cleanest, I could see myself commuting this way if I lived there. It would beat the parking fees.

      Washington DC has a great Metro system. Outside my not very tall 6 foot frame feeling cramped, I would probably love commuting on it, too. Actually, it may be more pleasant that driving.

    • 0 avatar

      What WhiskeyRiver said!

      I knew that one was going to end badly.

  • avatar
    mcarr

    “Now, if I’ve learned anything in the past 44 years, it’s that the combination of women and ideas is almost always dangerous to me.”

    It’s not just you, I fall into this trap all the time…

    • 0 avatar
      dont.fit.in.cars

      I don’t because I never forget I’m a man. When a woman suggest something silly just pull the NO card. May not win points, but I’m right 99% of the time.

      • 0 avatar

        One of my best buddies is bald, 65 lbs. overweight and eats like he wants to have a heart attack. Yet he’s married to a hot blonde and has a patter that’s catnip to the ladies. It’s crazy. We go to a bar and they’re all over him.

        He told me the secret of his appeal: “Next to power, there’s no greater aphrodisiac to women than the word ‘No.\'”

        Unless it’s all in his fervid imagination — which I doubt — Jack B. seems to do just fine anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      Driver8

      It’s not just you.

      see “prohibition” or “the vote”.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Veering from the established prior plan almost never works, especially when you want to do something on a reasonable time limit. This has been my life experience.

    You can spend an hour getting where you’re going using a well-considered plan (and then have time to enjoy yourself), or you can have an “adventure” and veer off the plan. It then takes four hours to get to the same place, and you’re sweaty and irritated.

  • avatar
    SomeGuy

    Cool story but no mention of the car you are going through all this trouble to acquire from the dealer? No mention of your thoughts on the car, and if all this trouble was even worth it?

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I am guessing it was a new McLaren.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      My guess is that article will be Road & Track. But maybe we can read about part 2 where Jack arrived late, and the supercar was with someone else. In the meantime, he took a Prius C around the circuit …

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        https://www.instagram.com/roadandtrack/

        YOU ARE CORRECT SIR!

        • 0 avatar
          George Herbert

          In Palo Alto, “exotic car” could be about anything, there’s a dealer for everything. But for some reason I always think of the McClaren dealer at the corner of Arastradero and El Camino. Glad to see that was it.

          I hope you buzzed up Arastradero to Deer Creek Road and buzzed past the Tesla HQ at 8500 RPM. I did that in my RX-8 all the time when I worked over thataways.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    two things I’ve learned:

    1) buses suck as mass transit. they might be OK as the “last mile” if you live in an area with usable rail, but for most places they’re terrible. I have a roughly 28 minute drive to work. Trying to get to work by bus would take 3.5 hours, and that also involves a change from the SMART line to DDOT (Detroit Dept. of Transportation) and that is a LOL NOPE.

    2) you’ve summed up perfectly why I despise the state of California and feel the month I’ve spent there (in total) is all I care to for pretty much the rest of my life.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      You can’t bring up metro Detroit in any public transportation argument. Technically we have the SMART buses, but really we do not have any public transportation.

      That being said, buses are terrible public transportation if you have to get anywhere quickly. When I lived in the Seattle area I took the bus downtown a couple of times. It cost me $7 round trip each time. I could have driven and paid for parking for less. I also took the bus to work a couple of times. My usual rush hour commute was less than 10 minutes by car, and took about 35 minutes by bus. I also had to get to work a half hour early, because I would be late otherwise. Public transportation is good in crowded areas, and only if you’re avoiding the bus that’s stuck in the same traffic.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        I want to know where you were parking for $7 minus the cost of gas. Parking in my downtown Seattle building, which is comparable to all the ones around it, is $18 if you enter and leave at certain specific times (“early bird”) and $34 otherwise. If you want a monthly pass it’s $349.

        I take the bus both because for my commute it’s not much slower than driving and because it allows me to save almost $500 monthly: the sum of parking, tolls, and gas, minus the employer-discounted cost of the bus pass.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      “buses suck as mass transit.”

      It really depends. And, I will grant you that most domestic applications thereof do suck. However, when done right they can work really well.

      The best examples are commuter buses into large cities. Another excellent example is the Select Bus system running in Manhattan. The one I use regularly is the M15 which runs on First and Second avenues. It has a dedicated lane during rush hour and uses pre-ticketing so that pax use all the doors to get on and off. The result is almost as fast as a local subway line. It works because we have the passenger density (and demographic) needed to ensure proper funding and resourcing.

      Mass transit sucks in large parts of America because we hate the idea of it. It then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Being stuck in a car sucks, too. It’s not as if inching through the Holland Tunnel at a snail’s pace is a fantastic experience.

        The difference is that when mass transit is unpleasant, Americans blame the very idea of mass transit. When traffic sucks, most Americans don’t blame the car dependency that got them caught in a traffic jam in the first place. The inability to link cause with effect is profound here.

        • 0 avatar
          MBella

          Being stuck in your own car, is usually worlds better than on a bus. Your also don’t have to waste a bunch of time stopping every block to let people on or off. Your progress may be slow, but it’s still dramatically faster than the bus on the same route.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            As I said, the inability to link cause with effect is profound here.

          • 0 avatar
            JuniperBug

            I prefer being stuck on a bus in gridlock than in a car, myself. On the bus I’m not spending considerable money to go nowhere, environmental impact (fuel use/emissions/contributing to the traffic congestion that makes life miserable) is smaller, and I don’t have to stress about clutch-gas-brake – and what it’s doing to my car – every few meters.

            Avoiding this lets me enjoy my car more when I do decide to use it: to drive out into the country or do some laps on the racetrack.

        • 0 avatar
          Fordson

          Very. Well. Put.

          You win the internet today (well, yesterday, actually. Hope it’s not too late for you to collect…).

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        Pre ticketing should be standard. The line of people waiting to board the bus is absurd. You still need the separate lane mentioned. At that point it is hurting congestion.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I developed my hatred of mass transit while living in the Netherlands.

    • 0 avatar

      Buses indeed suck as mass transit under most circumstances. I used to live in DC. I couild get anywhere quite a bit faster on my bicycle than by bus.

      I do think buses are fairly good in Manhattan. but it’s the exception.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Always travel with a ditzy broad so you have someone to blame.

  • avatar
    PeterKK

    I’m a little ashamed to admit that this gives me great Schadenfreude. All of it.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    Man, I can’t wait to see what the People’s Republic of TTAC has to say about this after they finally wake up and log on.

    If the North Pole melts so much it looks like a gigantic margarita, the people of Kiribati are up their necks in seawater, and there are 150,000 motor vehicle deaths per year from distracted driving, my old Miata will still be the best way to get around town, and you can have the keys when you pry them from my cold, dead hands (thank you, Mr. Heston).

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Bad public transportation shouldn’t be used as an indication of what public transportation can be. I lived in NYC for 28 years and went to Paris a few years back… we got from CdG airport to our hotel room no problem. SF’s public transportation sucks. Last time I went the BART was completely down.

    None of this will matter anyway once automated cars get traction. Though as I’ve said before there will be a whole host of new issues. For example car sharing obviously makes sense… but what happens with Cali Girl has to share a ride with Mr. McHandInCargoPants? The prospect for heinous crime is eyewatering without some kind of check valves or security. Should ID be confirmed with each ride? Anti big brother folks will complain.

    But yea, getting the most out of public transportation is knowing when NOT to use it. Whenever I had to get to/from LGA/JFK I always took a cab. Both are reachable by bus/train but those are pretty treacherous journeys (~2+ hours from Manhattan). Similarly if I was going out at night I’d often cab it or jump on my motorcycle since Manhattan is about as bright as day time 24/7. But there’s no way I could have drove from my Manhattan apt to my Manhattan job. I did ride my bike/motorcycle in as much as possible though…

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      “getting the most out of public transportation is knowing when NOT to use it. ”

      +1

      I grew up in NYC and didn’t discover my love of cars until I moved to the suburbs. There was just no need to drive. Like @sportyaccordy, I cabbed it to the airports, took buses and subways to work, and walked if my destination was less than a mile or two.

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        @ WheelMcCoy – Good point re: walking. I did a two-year work stint in London, and it was an epiphany when I realized the degree to which the Tube map is a schematic that gives you almost no clue about actual distances. Tube, bus, walking, black cab, mini-cab: horses for courses.

        It’s easy to take pot shots at public transport if you have a cockamamie itinerary. I’ve had no problems using the systems in New York, Chicago, DC, Boston, and San Francisco.

        As to the purported ghetto nature of public transportation, I’ll point out that commuter trains are public transportation too. A fat cat lawyer or stockbroker from New York or Chicago rides public transportation 10 times a week when he commutes between his downtown office and his home in Greenwich or New Canaan or Kenilworth.

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      Precisely.

      Taking The Bus downtown for work in Honolulu in the morning: good. Taking The Bus back from downtown in the afternoon: bad. Taking the extra hour to stroll home from downtown through several parks and unwind from the workday’s stresses: ideal.

      Without Hawaii’s outstanding daily weather conditions and flatlined annual temperature variances, people there would be far angrier with their living conditions than they currently are.

      • 0 avatar
        James2

        Which “Honolulu” do you live in? The one I live in, TheBus sucks, no matter the time of day. If you live downtown and need to go to Waikiki, then fine; there seems to be 10 buses an hour headed that way. If you’re headed anywhere else, there is all of 1 bus an hour –and of course it’s packed like the proverbial sardine can.

        The idiots who run TheBus are like Microsoft: they don’t use their own product, so they don’t know how bad it is.

        • 0 avatar
          Felis Concolor

          I’m certain things have changed quite a bit since I lived there; I departed in ’90, well before Ben managed to so thoroughly piss off the populace they elected their first Republican governor in over 60 years as a reaction. Threaten to raise the GET another .5% during the depths of the state’s worst recession? Break out the tar and feathers, boys!

          I found the system to work very well from 70-79 and 84-89, the years I spent in Kahala and the Windward side of the island respectively, but having read about how badly gridlocked the highways have become these days I can imagine ride times have become increasingly untenable – and the only hour-long wait time I ever suffered was right after missing one of the circle island routes. I also hauled along one of DaHon’s early folding bicycles, which worked very well to get around that part of Oahu.

          One of the smaller factors driving me from the islands was the loss of a gorgeous view from a tiny studio at the round apartment on Amana. When that damn Pacific building went up, it completely blocked the panorama towards the Pearl City side. I barely recognize that area now, and it’s not just the disappearance of KGMB’s radio tower.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    Does anyone remember back when Jack used to write about cars?

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I’ve been to about 40 countries and have used public transit in many of them. As far as I can tell, it tends to work better abroad than in the US.

    Either the problem is with public transit or else it is with the Americans who design and manage it, and I’m voting for the latter. The idiots who decided that BART seats should be designed to absorb the odors produced by the occupants of those seats obviously didn’t put much thought into it.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      None of those other countries probably had the transit-riding urban underclass load that the US does, although France and Germany are doing all they can to proportionally achieve that.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I’m not referring to the users of the system, but to other aspects (although it doesn’t help that BART can resemble a mobile homeless shelter.) I suspect that some combination of underfunding, NIMBYism and general ineptitude is more relevant.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      I remember when MTA introduced the new subway cars built by Kawasaki. Instead of bench seating, they were buckets. Not deep buckets, but impressions to define seating positions. Well, the planners didn’t consider that uh… Japanese buckets are generally smaller than American buckets.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      The problem isn’t with either public transit or the people implementing it. It’s with American land use. You need medium to high density for transit to work as more than a lifeline for the poor, and in America we just don’t do density except in large coastal cities.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        That’s a good point. We don’t utilize land fully. Go to a Korean city – and even the “suburbs” have buildings 15+ stories tall, they’re still dense.

        The American Dream is the opposite of effective land use, ha.

        • 0 avatar
          Toad

          “The American Dream is the opposite of effective land use, ha.”

          If the goal is keeping the majority of citizens (that want a detached house and a yard) happy then America has very effective land use policies.

          If the goal is to force everybody to live in high density residences then you can argue most of our land use policies are not effective.

          While urban living is becoming more popular among the young and single and/or some empty nesters, the vast majority of Americans choose or desire to live in lower density neighborhoods, particularly when raising children.

          If you think transportation goals should serve the wants of the citizens our current system is doing OK. If you think our land use planning should serve particular transportation goals then you are probably not happy.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I was considering “effective” in relation to density and usefulness. Cities where 35% of the land is used for “private yard” is not effective.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            The current system is actually forcing the detached-home lifestyle on people who don’t want it. Here in Seattle, we have a severe housing shortage in the densest areas, mostly because owners of old detached homes in those areas won’t allow developers to build more condos nearby. As a result condos in the dense areas are spectacularly expensive and no one can afford them. Meanwhile if you go an hour out from the city detached homes are cheap. Here, the market is telling us we need to allow more high-density housing in central locations.

            I live in a suburb with my family but would live in the city if I could afford it.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Funny how different that is from here (Cincinnati). Living downtown is expensive and likely fraught with crime unless you live in a quite expensive building. Crime varies by block, and ebbs and flows through depending on what event has attracted which crowd to what area. You may be subject to violence if you choose to walk down a street which has not enough lights on it.

            I don’t think most people are interested in living down there, save for the brand new development which is damn near attached to the stadiums. There are quite expensive homes surrounding downtown (basically on the hills), but not really in it.

            It would cost me 3x as much to live downtown, and I’d be exposed to higher crime and more undesirables, while at the same time having nowhere to park my Cadillac.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Corey, a different way of thinking about what you’re saying is:

            Downtown Cincinnati has more demand than it can handle (i.e., expensive prices)… *even though* it’s still subject to high crime rates. A lot of people like being downtown.

            If there were no demand, downtown apartments would be run-down and very cheap.

            I have three cars because I have space to park them. They’re fun, but not the most important things in my life. If I lived downtown, I’d have either one or two depending on the parking situation in my particular place. I’d probably replace both the Subaru and the Lexus with some luxury CUV, and either keep or sell the Legend depending on parking.

        • 0 avatar
          RideHeight

          “The American Dream is the opposite of effective land use, ha.”

          In college it was amusing to learn that East Asians see success as the achievement of material wealth and social influence WITHIN a crowded-ass beehive setting.

          Kids and profs both were astonished at my summary of the American Dream: becoming wealthy enough to get the f*ck AWAY from everybody.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Oh yes. The pinnacle of Korean achievement is working for a reputable company, having two children, and owning a high-rise condo and a black or silver Korean brand car.

            The “American” grass suburb doesn’t fit in anywhere. If you have a yard you’re probably poor, and live in the country.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            Yep, all they got is “You damn kids! Get off my balcony!”

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            They also have “Steer well clear of my large Equus in traffic, poor person.”

            I imagine it’s quite hard to commit a traffic offense in Korea when you have a large car.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        San Francisco has the density to support mass transit, yet substantial areas are not served by rail and riding BART can be a rather unpleasant experience for someone who has a sense of smell.

        The Chicago L doesn’t stink, but it has inadequate routes and otherwise pales in comparison to systems in Europe.

        Los Angeles spends literally decades building its system, with various NIMBYs along the way ensuring that it takes more money and time to build it than is necessary. And when they do build it, they end up with subway walls that are too thin, thanks to its corrupt contractor who decided to save money on concrete (without passing on those savings to the taxpayer, of course.)

        So no, it isn’t just about density. Americans suck at getting things done in those instances when everybody and his brother gets a chance to weigh in on them. Americans are better at blocking progress and bellyaching about everything that they dislike than they are at accomplishing something.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          The stuff you’re talking about is why the New York subway is less pleasant than the one in Paris.

          It’s not why Cincinnati and Kansas City don’t have subway systems.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Mr. Baruth’s rant is about the Bay Area, which should have outstanding public transit yet does not.

            The fact that Council Bluffs, Iowa doesn’t have the population or density to support a subway does not explain why BART and the SF MUNI are far from ideal.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            And in that particular situation, you’ve got a point about the NIMBYs, who are largely responsible. San Francisco has the greatest delta between transit potential and actual transit of any city in the US with the possible exception of Seattle. But the comment I was responding to (yours, as it happens) was about the US in general.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Except that I never claimed that most of the US was well-suited to public transit. What I have been pointing out is the flawed execution even in those areas where it should work, and comparing it to places abroad that do a better job of it.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            In Toronto urban, high rise, city living has become the aspiration.

            When I purchased my single family dwelling on a large lot in the suburbs, I could have purchased for the same price 3 or 4 inner city townhouses, or pre WWI workers cottages.

            Now anyone of those is worth more than my home.

            Areas of the inner city that were industrial and empty at night and on the weekends are now crowded with pedestrian traffic 24/7, living in condos the best of which are those in the converted industrial buildings.

            The population of the ‘City’ has actually grown over the past decade.

            And the closer your building/home is to the subway, the greater its value appreciates.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        Out of all the things currently wrong with America, aside from the Fed, the idea that “we” have a say in what you can build on your own property, is the most destructive. Combine that with the Fed, and we get the current situation: An infinite number of busybody halfwits, spending their pathetic little lives meddling in the affairs of “those others,” in ever more desperate attempts to prevent “them” from supposedly “lowering the value” of “our” over mortgaged, asset pumped cheese palaces.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    What a great article ! .

    I’ve been there many times , usually my own fault because I’m ‘ adventurous ‘ and mostly _stupid_ .

    Riding the DOT Av. bus sitting next to a Woman who doesn’t speak English (neither did anyone else but me and the bus driver) who’s holding a big , live and dirty pissed off turkey… this was in Boston by the way .

    OTOH , there’s no better way to discover what any area is really like .

    Oops ~ gotta run .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Nick

    The opening paragraph will have the SJWs descending on you from all over. You’ll be the next Roosh V for them to get hysterical about.

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    I’ve been on wonderful public transit systems all over the world. It can be done.

    I’m at a loss to explain why the US (outside of the DC to Boston corridor) can’t develop a public transit system that’s not an embarrassment.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Because in this country, outside the eastern seaboard, public transit is for poor people, so it’s funded grudgingly, like welfare, and the system works about as well as a result.

      But it’s not bad everywhere. Here in Denver it’s a fairly pleasant way to go – I still prefer my car to get downtown, but there are times when transit is a better bet.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      Because the vast majority of people in the US have no interest in public transportation or desire to use it. We spend lots of money on our personal vehicles because we like them, take pride in them, and find them to be the best way to meet our individual transportation needs.

      We even have websites dedicated to cars. You may have heard of TTAC. The readership here is probably much higher than The Truth About Subways.

      Personal vehicles get us where we want when we want, in many unique variations, at any time. We don’t develop more public transportation because, outside of the central cities of major urban areas, most citizens want to use their personal vehicles to get from place to place.

      Public transportation is like chastity: a great virtue for others to practice but not very satisfying to most of us individually.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      I suspect that part of the issue is the nature of the political system. The US is full of checks-and-balances that muck up and raise the cost of projects that are long-term and wide-reaching, including local NIMBYs who can kill off or stall things for decades. It’s just harder to get things done here, and what does gets done is often a half-assed compromise that is less than the sum of its parts.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      All of you are sniffing around symptoms and missing the root cause.

      For public transportation to work, it needs to be frequent, fast, and have lines spaced pretty closely.

      For all of those things to remotely make sense, there need to be LOTS of riders in an area.

      For there to be LOTS of riders in an area, there need to be LOTS of people in the area.

      Land use in America doesn’t usually feature areas with lots of people. Only in a few mostly coastal cities do you get the sort of density, of both housing and jobs, that allows transit to work well.

      So you have functional transit covering most of New York, Boston, DC, and Philly. You have it in a few parts of the Bay Area, Chicago, LA, Seattle, and Portland. In other cities, it’s considered something for the poor whether or not it’s well-funded or well-implemented. Those cities just don’t have the needed density.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Do you like covering this because you used to drive a city bus!?

        Also, does your current lawyering deal with any transportation?

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          I’ve always been interested in it. And I spent a significant fraction of my childhood in Geneva, one of those small European cities with an absolutely kick-a$$ bus system. So I learned more about why it worked there and not here.

          There isn’t much transportation involved in my current job. I represent a couple of clients that run shuttle buses as part of their operations, and that’s about it. Other lawyers in my firm represent one of the area’s big transit agencies, but the work they do isn’t related to my specialty.

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        @ dal20402 – You’ve definitely got Chicago in the wrong grouping there. The RTA (which includes the CTA) is a massive system.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          But Chicago is an even more massive city, with perhaps the starkest divisions between wealthy and poor areas of any in America, and the system does not cover much of the city (mostly the poor parts) effectively.

          If you can get written at a non-Mitsubishi car dealer, the system serves all of the parts of Chicago you’re likely to visit pretty well.

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            Fair point that parts of the South and West Sides are underserved, but that hardly makes it a Los Angeles situation. And SEPTA’s more functional than the RTA? I know a lot of people in both Philly and Chicago, and they’re unanimous in the opinion that Chicago has better public transportation.

            Not flaming, just disagreeing with your lumping Chicago in with cities that have only token public transportation.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            In the era of MetroRapid I wouldn’t characterize LA as having only token public transportation. It actually has developed a pretty comprehensive grid-based system. I’d say it serves its rich areas not nearly as well as Chicago but actually does a much better job in the poorer areas.

            Again, my comment is based on effective coverage. Philly’s transit is slow and has issues, but enables you to get pretty much anywhere in the city. I wouldn’t say that about Chicago’s transit given the massive holes in the South Side. But I agree that if you stay in the wealthier areas Chicago’s transit is more effective than Philly’s.

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            Respectfully, you’re overstating the degree to which the South and West Sides are underserved. A close friend has no problems commuting to the Loop from his South Side home via public transit.

            Chicagoland also has excellent commuter rail service to downtown.

            Unless you’re defining New York as the only city in the first tier–and that certainly is a defensible position–Chicago absolutely belongs in the first tier of US cities public transportation-wise.

    • 0 avatar

      Public transit works great in Manhattan. It’s OK in Boston proper, and Cambridge, but lousy in the suburbs. When I lived in DC, it was considerably faster to bicycle most places than to use public transit if I had to change trains. (forget the bus). I lived in Paris for a year as a kid, and public transit was great there.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Let me start, by saying I hate public transportation with a passion. Nothing like waiting for your GO train at minus 25C C, only to be told “the switches are frozen” ! Who knew that here in Canada ,involving something mechanical, with servo switches, and hydraulics, may not work so well, covered in ice and snow ? ?

    I don’t venture out too far these days If I do the Mustang goes everywhere with me. Sitting in a traffic jam, with my heated/clean seats, and CH 25 Siruis/XM Radio on is okay by me. If I know that I may crack a couple of Molsons , I calculate the Uber/ Taxi fair into my total cost.

    Jack… excellent writing ,ya got a much needed smile out of me

  • avatar
    SWA737

    Thanks for flying with us.

    Public transportation at .79 Mach

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Well, Jack, you wanted a public transit adventure and you got one!

    In fairness, I’ve found that buses and transit work far better to get from point A to point B in a city than than from the airport to a suburb.

    Denver is opening a light rail line from the airport to downtown in the next few months – I’d be interested to see how that works out. The light rail here is actually nice, but it’s mainly useful for getting from the suburbs to downtown. Getting from one suburb to another on it is sketchy, at best.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Danger Girl doesn’t seem to understand the difference between “city” and “suburb.”

    If you had been headed into central San Francisco, BART would have been the way to go. You would have spent $30 to park your rental car and sat in endless traffic.

    But only a moron or someone too poor to do otherwise would try to take public transit into the Valley. The same insistence on single-family density everywhere that causes every ramshackle rambler in the area to cost $2 million means there’s no chance of public transit working well.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      Agreed. Public transit can be a slow hassle, but you are really asking for it if your destination is some suburb 30 miles away. The problem was compounded by flying into Oakland. It sounds like Jack is no stranger to the area and knew this was coming though; should have put his foot down with Danger Girl’s suggestion.

      Considering the distance, starting point, and destination, the fact that this trip was possible at all should be considered impressive.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Jack, Great writing. Thanks for sharing this miserable experience. Every time I consider taking public transit in LA to get downtown, it’s these types of stories and my wife’s insistence that prevents us from getting anywhere near the red line station – traffic slowdowns be damned.

  • avatar
    Chan

    I’ve heard that BART is noisy because of the lightweight train car design, high operating speeds and I’m suspecting its use of broad gauge rail is another factor (solid axle on a curve).

    Personally, as a very occasional user it feels to me about as noisy as any older rolling stock in an underground tunnel. More modern train cars with sealed doors make a huge difference.

    The Bay Area is still rather difficult to navigate with public transportation. Rental car or taxi/Uber are still your best bet. Due to BART’s poor coverage, its ridership is still disproportionately nomadic. Just like all American suburban public transportation.

    • 0 avatar
      aycaramba

      Oh my, the noise on BART! Took it once from SFO to the east bay area. Much of that underground through the city and under the bay. I have never been on such a noisy rail car. Above ground, it was tolerable. Underground, it was painfully loud. I mean my ears were actually hurting. I don’t know folks out there tolerate it on a daily basis. Louder than any subway I’ve ever been on.

  • avatar
    madman2k

    Jack –
    Uber is actually getting to be one of the cheapest ways to get around. According to a fare estimator, an UberX from Oakland to Palo Alto would have run between $40 and $52 one-way.

    But it gets better.

    If you make a new account (tied to a new email address) you can use someone’s referral code to get the first $15 or $20 off, I think it depends on the city you take the ride in.

    New email = new account, and another referral code discount. Use your imagination.

    I used to drive for them until the rate cut before last – at $1.20 a mile it was worth it, at $0.70 a mile it’s community service. Or counteracting income you would’ve had to pay taxes to the IRS on, if you look at it that way. I operated at a taxable loss because of the $0.575 standard mileage deduction last year.

    When I was stationed in San Diego and bored on a weekend day, I would buy a $5 transit pass and see how many miles of exploring I could put on between whenever I woke up and bought the pass, and I think it was 2 AM the next day the pass expired. Got all the way from Coronado to Oceanside, Escondido, San Ysidro and back on a couple occasions. Pretty far for 5 bucks. There are sure some characters especially late at night.

  • avatar
    James2

    Seoul, South Korea has a fantastic subway system and an overall well-integrated public transportation system (the taxis will even accept the cards used to pay the subway fare), but despite the crazy *monochromatic* traffic I still preferred to catch a taxi. The fares were ridiculously cheap and you didn’t have to be the meat of a human sandwich.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Public transportation. Good for the other guy.

  • avatar
    orenwolf

    Always confirm you are in the correct vehicle. This does not only happen with Uber. And large city with orderable cans has the same issue.

    Your situation was unique, because you didn’t need to park your rental anywhere. Faced with the same situation, I’d have taken a Zipcar if they are offered at the airport (and they probably are).

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Very amusing writeup and an interesting comment thread.

    I tried public transit for awhile and found it to be decidedly mixed for my needs. At the time I lived 45 minutes (if flowing at the speed limit) from my work and tried to save some fuel costs by using the company-subsidized transit pass. Even the express bus took over twice as long as driving and induced mild motion sickness rocking through all the turns in the early morning dark.

    I then switched to the commuter train and that was excellent–in warm months. The transit center was 3 miles from the office, and in non-snow seasons the road bike would eclipse the distance in 10 minutes flat. Then winter came. The connector bus from the train hub would take a full half hour longer due to its meandering route, adding a solid hour of irritation to each week day. It is as if they were trying to find ways of putting me back in my car.

  • avatar
    George Herbert

    I’ve lived here my entire life. General rule – any ONE public transit hop and it’s no worse than anywhere else. TWO or more and you risk sanity and body. Integration between the systems sucks. And we have… ye gods, BART, Caltrain, Capitol Corridor, Light Rail, Golden Gate Transit (bus and ferry), SF MUNI, Samtrans, VTA, County Connection, AC Transit, …

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:SFBAtransit
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transportation_in_the_San_Francisco_Bay_Area#Public_transportation

    It’s beyond human comprehension how many interconnects we have. You’d think we’d have an App for that by now, but apparently that’s beyond dot-comprehension. People wonder why all the dot-commers want to live in San Francisco and either avoid all this or take private company buses to work?…

    Disclaimer: About to start taking BART in to SF for work at new location. Will be driving to the local station…

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Commuting into, or around San Francisco by any means, sucks. A classy 30s Commuter from your own dock on Tiburon excepted.

      Into and out of the city, I’d take Bart over anything involving a bridge.

      From suburb A to suburb B, just suck it up and get a motorbike. Anything else is simply a waste of a life. To paraphrase the great(est?) one: better that we should die on our bikes, rather than live in our buses and gridlocked cars.

  • avatar

    500 miles? You rate. They only let me have it for 200.

  • avatar
    JustPassinThru

    Public transit can work – but only for people with lockstep, rigid habits; and ONLY if public DEPORTMENT is enforced.

    We hear, read and see Europeans and Japanese all stoically riding their trains and subways. What we do NOT see is thugs with hoodies and their pants at half-mast; waiting to relieve you of your wallet or some young female of her self-respect and mental health.

    …or rather, we did not see it until recently. How the Europeans adapt to their folly, borne of appalling ignorance of the realities of the world…will be a process worth watching.

    Me? Where I live public transit is free – and STILL it’s too much a hassle to bother with. Time has value; and when I can ride a bicycle quicker than I can wait on and make connections in Kafkaesque bus routes and schedules…I’ll ride. Or walk.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Story and comments proving yet once again that good writing makes reading about anything interesting and enjoyable .

    Last July I drove back to Boston to bury Moms , after the funeral we gathered at the same hotel where predictably there was family strife caused (I think) mostly by the stresses of burying a parent ~ in any case , I was suddenly alone and far from the Logan Airport where I needed to go to buy a ticket and fly home….

    In the pouring rain I walked a few miles to the nearest subway station and bought a ticket , rode two or maybe three different lines to the airport , rode a bus from the subway to the terminals proper and was able to get home again alive and unscathed .

    Boston’s subway system is ancient and 50 + years ago when I lived there and needed it a lot , was reasonably efficient even though they decided to pocket any fund$ dedicated for cleaning ~ the piss stench from the underground was noticeable on the street but at least the (mostly ancient pre WWII) trains ran on time .

    I now live in So. Cal. and fairly recently we , those nasty ‘ NIMBYS ‘ collectively agreed to higher property taxes to pay for the Gold Line , _TWICE_ , the folks in charge of things , not the ‘ NIMBYS ‘ pissed away the ENTIRE $ WE PAID TWICE on other things before ever breaking ground .

    Now it is nearly finished , I have ridden it once (IIRC) , again in the pouring raid just because I wanted to see what my $ had been spent on , it was O.K. all things considered .

    The last little bit of the Gold Line is supposed to open (it’s been running test trains since last year) March 16th and as it happens goes two blocks away from the battered bank repossessed house in a crummy neighborhood my Son bought a couple years ago and up fixed , got married and began raising his family in .

    As he works in Los Angeles , (Rampart Division L.A.P.D.) , a stones throw from the MacArthur Park station , he’s all excited about riding the trains to work .

    In a few short year his neighborhood of single homes with yards will be discovered by the yuppie lawyers etc. who screw up anything they touch and he’ll prolly sell out at a healthy profit and move away again .

    More Public Transit stories please , I’m loving them and have more to share depending on my mood at any given time .

    -Nate


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