A few months ago, I found myself in a position of having to ride various forms of public transit over the course of 3 days.
My car wasn't in shape for me to make a two hour ride up to LA and I was assigned to ride the public buses in San Diego for my sustainability class.
I know that riding public transit is better for the environment, but I've hesitated to try it in San Diego because I'm terrified:
- Of getting lost on my routes
- The unpredictability of schedules
- Being around people I don't know (as a female riding alone I've had very weird experiences before)
But with the situations I've found myself in, I wanted to take the opportunity and break these fears I had. I truly believe that living a 'sustainable' lifestyle requires us to take steps in a holistic approach, which for me means reducing my carbon footprint and to use public transport more frequently.
Here's my mini diary of what happened those few days:
Day 1: Amtrak --- Going to LA
5:02 - I woke up a bit late today. My train is supposed to leave by 6:05 today and I wanted to wake up by 4:50 am, but apparently I had set it at 4:50 p.m. Luckily, I packed my bags and planned my outfit the night before.
5:29 - I requested an Uber to take me to the train station to avoid having to leave my car overnight in the public parking lot. Originally I wanted to use Uber pool, but it was going to take too long and only a little less expensive than if I were to go by myself.
5:48 - My Uber ride took longer than expected (but this was partially my fault since I was talking with my driver and he got distracted. Oops). I got to the train station feeling disoriented. I’ve only seen the train station during the day and I’ve never taken anyone to this particular station. There was surprisingly a good amount of people there. I was bit nervous and frazzled trying to find where I needed to go. But luckily my ticket was already bought online, so I just needed to wait in line until they loaded us up on the train.
5:55 - I was a little surprised my train left 10 minutes earlier than it was supposed to. But I was glad to hop inside the train because it was so warm compared to the chilly morning outside. The sun had still yet to rise. But I noticed after they scanned my ticket and the train departed that:
I went on the wrong train.
I had accidentally swapped the two departure times in my head for today and tomorrow. My SD train departure was set for 6:57 and the LA train back to SD was set for 6:05.
But I’m not too worried because I’m pretty sure the Amtrak trains have to go through all the stations. So I just have to update my mom to pick me up a little early.
6:36 - I’ve settled in a bit now and started getting some of my homework done. That was one of the benefits of taking the train for me. This upcoming week for school was going to be hectic and it’s nice to be able to get ahead on my assignments. I’ve been too nervous to ask for the WIFI (I know I need to just ask, I will soon), so I haven’t gotten too deep into my homework yet. But I was forced to stop anyway because the sun began to rise and the view was gorgeous from the train. I’ve heard so many people talk about how beautiful it is and I’m so happy I get to witness it.
6:46 - Ok so apparently the WIFI is free and all I had to do was click on their network. Are you starting to catch how unprepared I was haha?
7:55 - I’m starting to get really hungry now. The train does offer food and coffee. But I don’t want to create waste from the packaging from the food. I’m getting closer to home and I can wait to eat and finally get some coffee when I get there.
8:51 - The train finally arrived at Union Station in LA. The ride was beautiful and I was able to get some homework done, and I’ll try to do more tomorrow when I take the train again. I’m going to call my mom when I get off the train to pick me up instead of Ubering.
Day 2: Amtrak --- Back to SD
5:05 - Woke up a bit late because my alarm was set to 4:50 pm instead of am AGAIN!!! Ugh but my stepdad is taking me to the train today before he heads off to work so he was able to wake me up on time. This time I force myself to eat and drink coffee before going onto the train so I don’t feel horrific on the way back home this time.
6:02 - The traffic to get to the union station and my house took way longer than either my dad or I had expect. I had 3 minutes to run across Union station before my train took off! I never run and my body felt it, but my adrenaline ignored it because I couldn’t miss that train. By the grace of God I got there right as the train was starting to move. They saw me running and stopped the train for me to hop on. I also noticed that there were two people running behind me after I got them to stop the train so I like to think that this was the best scenario to happen…
6:15 - Ok 1) I’m surprised they haven’t checked my ticket yet 2) My throat is burning still from running so hard. I could really use some tea to relax me and my throat, but I don’t want to create any waste since I forgot a reusable mug.
6:34 - I couldn’t take it and went to buy tea. It took me awhile to look for it on the train and I found out it was 3 carts down. I finally get there and they have my favorite tea: mint. But turns out that their machine is down and they’re only accepting cash. Unfortunately, I rarely have cash on me, so guess I’m not getting tea today. I’ll take it as a sign not to create waste today.
8:55 - The rest of the trip had been very relaxing and I was able to get ahead on a few project and assignments
Day 2 pt.2 : Bus
8:56 - I realized that I could fulfill my assignment for my sustainability class by taking the train back to my house instead of requesting an Uber. (Plus it was cheaper) I went to a local Coffee shop (Copa Vida) to grab some tea for my throat that was still hurting from this morning’s sprint in the station hahah. I also was able to use the shops WiFi to download the app Compass cloud and buy my one-day ticket online (which was only $5) and plan my route home.
9:38 - I decided to stay at the coffee shop to get some work done and still grab the coffee for my friend’s birthday. I left for the 215 bus that was supposed to leave by 9:47. But I realized that I didn’t look up which stop my bus would arrive at and there were approximately 5 different ones all on the same block and I started to panic.
9:47 - I found the right bus stop about 3 minutes before it came so my crisis was averted. The bus came on time and once again I was taken aback by how clean the bus was. I think I have this misconception that buses are dirty because of my past experiences with them growing up in LA. The San Diego buses are way nicer. Again I loved seeing the diversity of people on the bus. I think public transit is an amazing place to see the socio-economic statuses, religious and racial backgrounds all mixed together. It’s a perfect place to people watch.
10:14 - The bus ride seemed way longer to get to where I wanted to get to compared to the trolley. I’m assuming that this is due to the added factors of traffic and how long it took people to board the bus. There were definitely a few colorful people when we went through Gas lamp and they had given the driver a bit of a hard time. Though I would say they seemed pretty used to it by that point. You definitely can’t be in a rush to take the bus; I would definitely be stressed out. But I was able to actually make a friend because it was actually both of our first time on the route and we were getting off on the same stop. His name was Jose and he was on his way to the DMV (ironic). But he was really kind and I truly wouldn’t have talked to him if we weren’t both riding the bus with confused looks on our faces. I knew that this assignment addressed if we meet anyone and I was expecting to actually meet anyone at all. I also loved the view of the city and balboa park on the ride. It’s nice to be able to enjoy my surroundings instead just driving past them.
10:20 - I finally walked to my home after getting of the bus.
- It was much easier and relaxing than I expected
- I loved seeing the diversity of people and meeting people I probably wouldn’t have come into contact with
- There are so many stops in the areas I typically drive to, like I could pay for a $5 ticket to have a fun day in Downtown and avoid parking fees and enjoying my surroundings.
- Makes me think of possibly ditching my car one day if I live and work in the city to save a ton of $$$ and pollution
* In addition to this post I want to add that I recognize that I have the privilege and connivance of owning a car. There are many people who are forced to ride on public transport because of their economic situation. I don't want to make public transportation seem like a spectacle or look down upon those who use the public transportation daily. In fact I think that this allows us the opportunity of socio-economic mixing where we aren't stuck in our bubbles of privilege and are able to sit-side by side with those we would otherwise encounter or even avoid.
Do you frequently ride public transportation?
What's stopping you from riding?
Let me know!