Public Transit and Me: a Love/Hate Relationship

February 15, 2010 § 1 Comment

I thought it would be funny to show those of you who think I’m just kind of hovering around outside the city and come in when I feel like it how long it actually takes me to get to Toronto these days:

One: the bus. It comes about once an hour and takes the longest possible route to get to the train station. A 15-20 minute drive becomes a 35-40 minute tour of houses, gas stations, and more houses.

Two: the bus never matches up with the train, so I usually wait inside this lovely train station for 20-45 minutes for my train to arrive.

Three: board the train!!! Warm up (see my cold, red nose?)

Four: enjoy the 50 minute ride into the city, usually by reading, listening to music, or just watching the poor cars in traffic on the 401.

I am considered an anomaly when I’m here in the suburbs for not only not presently having a driver’s license, but for never having had a full license in my life. Even though I grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba (one of the coldest cities in Canada, with lows reaching -45 c in the winter) and followed that up with a move to one of the most boring cities I’ve ever been to with less than desirable public transit, I maintained my licenseless status. When my family and I first moved to Whitby 10 years ago, in order to get to college or the record store I worked at, I’d have to walk 30 minutes into Oshawa to catch one bus then transfer to another. The whole process took about an hour. An hour to get somewhere that you could get to in 15 minutes if you just drove straight there.

Three years later, I moved to Toronto and revelled in having streetcars, subways, and buses everywhere! They’d take me to and from work, to friends’ houses, shopping, etc. If it was really cold or late at night, I’d jump in a readily available taxi. In the summer, I’d ride my bike everywhere and save money as well as enjoy the sights and a workout at the same time. The thought that I was in my mid-to-late twenties and still hadn’t got my license didn’t really bother me.

Last June I moved to New York, a city which boasts one of the best public transit systems in the world. Oh and that rumour that cabs in Manhattan won’t drive you home to Brooklyn? Untrue!

Now that I’m back in Whitby with my family while my visa is processing, I have been quickly whipped backwards in all my public transit progress I’ve made in the last 8 years. At first I felt claustrophobic and trapped, then I kind of just got used to not really going anywhere, since there is nowhere to go here and it’s winter. Well, I did manage to conquer one of my New Year’s resolutions already and that was to get my beginner’s license again. Now I’ve only gone driving a couple times since having it, and hopefully I’ll get some more practice before heading back to the US, where I’m pretty sure it won’t be honoured and I’ll have to start the process all over again. I suppose my ultimate driving goal will be to have full driving privileges by the time I am ready to have some babies so that I don’t have to haul them around on the subway with me after they’re too big to fit in those fun backwards backpack-looking carriers!


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