Binghamton to Albany via Detroit?

Half a day.

I have the need to travel from Binghamton to Albany, both in New York State. It’ll be sometime later this year, via some sort of transit. This is a distance of 141 miles or 227 km, traveling northeast.

Back in the last century, and even the early part of this one, one could take the bus from Binghamton, through Oneonta to Schenectady and Albany, primarily Route 7 and later I-88.

The last time I needed to make the trip from my hometown to my current residence, perhaps in 2018, was on a work trip. I had to take the bus from Binghamton to Syracuse, due north, then take another bus east to the state capital. This involved leaving the Parlor City about 3:30 a.m. and then having a 2-hour layover.

But last I checked, to make the very same trip now, I would have to leave at 2:15 am and arrive in Syracuse at 3:30 am. Then I’d have to wait eight hours to take the only eastbound bus at 11:40 am, getting into Albany at 2:45 pm. Twelve hours on the road.

What about the plane?

BinghamtonThe cheapest flight was $397, and it involved spending 7 hours and 20 minutes in Detroit, MI. The shortest, and at $892, the most expensive, involved only three hours in Detroit. The other choices involved going through both Detroit and Chicago, IL. The trips would take as “little” as 7.5 hours and as much as twice that.

Unfortunately, there is no train service at all from Binghamton, which is a shame. Currently, no train service exists on Sunday from Syracuse to Albany. Now, the latter is likely to change – or so I hope – as more people are traveling. But I like to make plans ahead of time.

The great thing about some travel these days is that some carriers are much more willing to be flexible about ticketing. The Trailways bus folks, e.g. are willing to provide refunds in case of death of an immediate family member, illness, jury duty, or military service.

 

B is for the bike and the bus

It’s illegal to ride the bike on the highway.

One of the truly civilizing things about living in the Albany, NY area is the ability to ride the bike and the bus for certain trips. Someone noted that taking the bike on the bus to the bike repair place – broken spoke –
was the first time he had considered the value of having a couple bike racks on the bus. But in fact, I use the combo all the time.

Every 28 days, I have to go back to Corporate (frickin’) Woods, where I worked for too long, to get an allergy shot. I ride my bike through town to a rode called Northern Boulevard, then hitch the bike on the bus as it treks up that nasty Albany-Shaker Road hill.

Now, I could ride to the allergist, but time is the enemy here, for I need to catch a bus OUT of Corporate Woods, and since I have to wait 30 minutes AFTER the shot, I stay on the bus. On the subsequent trip then to work, I can ride at least partway to work, and faster than by bus alone.

There are several reasons to take the bike on the bus:

*law – it’s illegal to ride the bike on the highway. As the crow flies, the shortest route from my house to Corporate Woods is I-90, but it would be not only unlawful but dangerous to ride the bike on the interstate

*time – I COULD ride to Schenectady, the next city to the west, but that would take a while

*energy – that is to say, mine, especially when it comes to hills

*the weather – never was that more true than on May 18. I was planning on riding the two miles home, but a severe thunderstorm began. Walking to the bus stop, I got soaked. Putting my bike on the bus, I was paranoid about being electrocuted.

I think the first time I saw bikes on mass transit was back in the late 1980s, when one could put a two-wheeler on the Bay Area Rapid Transit, in San Francisco-Oakland, California. It made sense to me and I’m happy for the option.

Incidentally, Jen Reviews has put out a “detailed, up-to-date 7,000 word guide on how to choose a bike according to science” that describes “10 factors to consider.”

ABC Wednesday, Round 21

“Move to the back of the bus”

“We’re going to get to know each other a little bit better.”

The day after one of our snowstorms – snow in upstate New York in February? – a lot of us were taking the CDTA bus. Maybe some had safe parking spots they didn’t want to move from, while others perhaps had not dug out.

Someone had shoveled the snow in front of the bus kiosk. Unfortunately, the bus stopped beyond the kiosk, and we had to climb over a snowbank to get to the bus entrance. To his credit, the bus driver did apologize.

We’re going down Western Avenue. All the seats are filled. But the folks standing in the aisle only go to the rear exit of the bus, about 2/3s of the way back. I understand it, sort of; they want to be able to get off easily.

But we got to a stop around Quail Street, and at least a half dozen people couldn’t get on the bus. If the bus driver told the folks to move back, as drivers are wont to do, I didn’t hear him.

As those folks were left at the curb, this young blonde woman, probably in her mid-20s, worked her way to the back of the standees and chastised them for not moving to the back of the bus to make room for more passengers. “Do you understand what you did?” she said, very directly, to a couple of folks. “Those people are STUCK out there, in the cold.”

Then she took on the tone of a camp director. “We’re all going to move back to make room for others. We’re going to get to know each other a little bit better.” And instead of yelling at her, they actually did what she told them.

I was in awe.

As more people departed, she was seated, and I moved up to congratulate her on her moxie. She said, “Well, you in the back supported me.” I assume it was when she mentioned the stranded passengers being cold, I added from the rear of the bus, “And probably late for work.”

Anyway, I thought it was an impressive feat on her part.

L is for Lanes of Traffic

“When there’s no bike lane, you’re supposed to ride on the sidewalk.”

turn signal
1. In July, traveling north on that stretch of Interstate 90 in New York between the Pennsylvania border and Buffalo, closer to the former, there are four lanes of traffic, two in each direction.

The Wife is driving and is in the right lane. Another car is in the left lane, slowly passing us. Suddenly, a motorcycle darts between us! Another motorcycle is already ahead of the other car.

Then the motorcycles, in turn, proceed to drive between not one, not two, but FOUR pairs of cars, in about three minutes. I was happy no one got hurt.

2. I am riding my bicycle down my street. I am as far right as I can be, given the fact there is a string of parked cars. I can sense that there’s a car that wants to pass me, but there’s oncoming traffic, and this is not an option.

We catch a red light, and we both stop. I can pull to the right because there’s no car that close to the intersection.

The driver says, “There’s no bike lane.”

“OK”

“When there’s no bike lane, you’re supposed to ride on the sidewalk.”

“NO, sir!”

“That’s the law.”

“You are INCORRECT, sir. Check your drivers’ manual. There’s a section on bicycles in there.”

Seriously, I used to carry around the booklet from DMV for such interactions. In my state, it is ILLEGAL for me to ride on the sidewalk, unless I’m under 14. (Note: I’m not.)

Apparently, this is a problem elsewhere.

3. Still, I LOVE riding my bicycle in the city, because I often find change on the ground, where the driver’s side door might be. I’ll stop for even a nickel, but not for a penny. Though if I stop for a mixture of coins – it has happened – I’ll get the pennies as well.

4. August: I was waiting for a bus, when a young man, probably in his twenties, asked me if I could “spare some change” so he could ride the bus. I told him that I could “spare a 50-cent change card” that I happen to have. (The fare is $1.50, and if I put in two $1 bills, I get the change card.)

His eyes narrowed as he said, teeth clenched, “Have a nice day.” I don’t think he was being sincere.
***
Now I Know: Slow and Steady Wins the Lottery

The Calculus of Bad Driving

ABC Wednesday – Round 19

Once, and other thoughts

ROGER will provide.

once-musicalThe musical Once was playing at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady in May. The Wife and I got into our seats about 20 minutes before the 7:30 opening. Already there were a bunch of people, some singing and playing instruments, but others just milling around.

We ascertained from another patron that the audience members could go up on stage and hang out or even buy a drink at the bar. Why we didn’t I’m not sure, other than the desire not to climb over people to get in and out of our seats. But it was very cool to watch.

Then the audience members leave the stage, but the music continues. One man sings a solo. The house lights are still on. Then Guy (that’s the name of one of the characters) sings the first song from the show as the house lights begin to dim but not so much because Girl (the other main character) has to walk down one of the aisles to walk up the steps to the front of the stage.

I saw the movie Once, and I recall enjoying it. This iteration is somewhat funnier, especially the banter between Girl and Guy early on. All the other musicians stay on stage, taking on various roles, moving sets, and singing. The large mirror on the set was used to great effect.

It was such a wonderfully organic production that I may have failed to mention that it was very good. A review.

Bus hallelujah

I was riding the bus to work; the weather was messy. A guy gets on the bus, known to some of the other patrons, but not by me. He said he had lent his wife his bus pass. I used my 10-ride card to pay for his ride. Immediately, two or three of these women went “God is good!” and “God will provide.”

(When I told the story to a colleague, he said, “ROGER will provide.” I laughed.)

Later on the trip, after the man had departed, these good women were trash-talking about someone, not on the bus, with at least one of them using all sorts of four-letter words to describe the woman in question. It was quite surreal.

Hillary can’t be President

Apparently, there are people out there who believe that a woman cannot legally be President of the United States. This is because Article II of the U.S. Constitution begins: “The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected…”

I’d ignore this as linguistic silliness, except after the birther attacks on Barack Obama, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone decided to make a legal case on this issue, as, in fact, someone tried and failed to do in 2008, the last time the former Secretary of State ran for POTUS.

One fellow has been badgering a local journalist about this topic, publicly on Facebook, concerned and frustrated that the mainstream media is ignoring this “important” issue.

And

*When my family rode our bikes home from the Pinksterfest on May 7, even as cars were stuck in gridlock, one of my church friends accused us of “gloating.” Untrue at the time. But after getting that reaction…

*When signaling about a potential poker game by email, someone wrote: “There will be lectures from Dr. Card on ‘Probability Theory and its Effect on Personal Finances and the Preservation of Quality of Life.'”

*Prince’s “Nothing Compares With You” was on the May 5 episode of the TV show Grey Anatomy, which I thought was amazingly quick, given the fact that he died on April 21. I imagine something was booted.