I am not a mass transit kind of guy. I mean, it’s great! For you: But not so much for me. From June of 1980 until August of 2015 I was way more likely to bicycle to a destination than to take mass transit or drive. (Since moving to F-L-A we seem to drive everywhere.)
I was around for the opening of the DC METRO in 1976. It was a big deal. Living just north of DC during my high school years I would walk the mile from my parents’ home out to the METRO Bus stop on New Hampshire Avenue where the bus either took me north to Sherwood High School or south to Silver Spring, the then north-east terminus of what is now a much longer “U” shaped rail line. To get to DC I simply took a bus to Silver Spring, took the Red Line to Metro Center and at Metro Center I would transfer to the Blue Line which deposited me at destinations that dotted the National Mall area.
I am 15 years older than the DC METRO. I am eight-and-one-half years older than METRO’s groundbreaking. The METRO is a new system. It has gates that open electronically, not turnstiles. In addition to stairwells it has escalators and elevators at every stop and to and from every line. It is ADA approved and the DC METRO is my concept of what a subway, or elevated train service, should look like. Ha!
I have tasted MARTA, the Atlanta subway. When I lived in Atlanta MARTA consisted of two lines, an east-west, and a north-south. I used it to get to the airport one time.
I have used the New York City subway. It is vast, complicated and old, but as usual I was being led by my beautiful bride who has logged hundreds of miles on the NYC system. The L is old, in no way ADA compliant, and has turnstiles at every stop we encountered. Just getting through the turnstiles with our luggage was a bit of a hassle! And, of course, Noree, Pat’s sister, has a bum, mostly healed elbow. We manage to get through the ancient, creaky entryway, climb the stairs toting our luggage, (yes, I carried Pat’s and my bag and Pat carried her ten-year-older-sister’s up the stairs) and managed to get to the correct platform heading in the right direction. Just getting to the Blue Line was exhausting!
But we were on and headed in the right direction. We found seats and I enjoyed watching Chicago’s cityscape go by. Pat tells us that our stop is coming up, we get off the train, struggle through another turnstile and head out to the city where we eventually figure out that we must cross the street to catch a bus going in the right direction. We cross at the light and wait in pleasant, calm sunshine for our bus to come. The wait is lengthy but the people watching is exquisite. I am especially fascinated with the cyclists who play Russian Roulette with the traffic by running the red light. Not a smart idea on their part!
Still, people are smiling. They are wearing Cubs shirts and hats as well as World Series tees. The sun is out, the weather is warm and there is a vibe of elation. I am not an urbanite, not a lover of cities, but today nearly everyone we encounter seems joyful. Chicago is the place to be.