In looking back over some of the bits I’ve written, I realize that there should be a section of my site just to bitch about the public transportation in the Bay Area. So naturally in witnessing the sheer mass of it all, I figured a reality check bit might be in order.
For starters, I grew up where there was basically no form of public transportation, in Oroville, CA (yes, I too find their websites primitive yet informative.) There was some form of a bus and it went somewhere, but it really didn’t run that often and it had only a couple of stops around town, doing me little good as I was a good five miles from downtown proper. That being that, we all pretty much drove cars. When you were 16 it was time to put away the rusty dirt bike you picked up somewhere for cheap and get something you didn’t have to pedal around. Something that inhaled gas and hurtled you to your destination. In a nutshell, a four-wheeled box that lost value every time you looked at it.
Once you got a car, you got expenses. The average teenager could probably exist quite well on $100-200 a month (oh yeah, times have changed!) but once the gasoline-powered vacuum cleaner came in to existence, your money went in to a black hole. At the time, I thought I loved to drive. It gave me freedom and it was fun.
So seven years later here I am living in San Francisco without a cars (two years strong!) and realizing that I really hate driving. Beyond the ridiculous cost of the car, driving is stressful and you don’t enjoy anything when you’re at the wheel. It took many crossings of the Bay Bridge before I was doing it in the Casual Carpool one day to realize what an awesome view it is coming in to downtown SF.
Now I find myself entering the spoiled years of public transportation and not having to drive. I use Bart everyday and the SF Muni sometimes. I’ve started to let the few minutes of lateness that these systems usually are become sand in my mouth, grinding away at me. It seems I’ve forgotten the “joy” of sitting in traffic or the “wonders” of parking in Lower Nob Hill all very quickly. The fact that I do know what it’s like not to have these systems in place has done little to quell my grumbles and while it is true that these systems are running at a less than stellar level from five years ago, they’re still running pretty well. It’s unfortunate that the fares tend to keep going up, but such is life in the big city.
It seems to really all boil down to the destination as to how much you enjoy the way you get there. When I first started dating the girlfriend and had to come in from the East Bay it didn’t matter how I got there as I was always looking forward to the destination. These days, as I lug my barely conscious carcass out to Walnut Creek, I can’t help myself but find the short circuits in a system that I should otherwise by damn thankful to have.
I don’t know if there’s a way around the griping. Everyone I know who does the same commute I do reaches a boiling point with it somewhere during the tenure of their stay with the company. It’s a long, long commute with a lot of walking that isn’t cheap to a town that most certainly is not San Francisco. The only way around it is to not do it in the end. Kind of a dumb resolution that I’ve come to, but I guess that is about the only one I can reach. Add another few paragraphs to the griping…