Those who take public transportation

communal mindset

In a comment, Kelly wrote: I’m interested in the communal mindset of those who take public transportation. You should write more about that! It’s something I noticed when The Wife and I were in Toronto recently; we relied on their subways and commuter rail to get around (or driving each day consisted of about fifteen minutes each way from the hotel to a train station), and you can really tell the people who use those services a great deal.

Part of it may be the concern that mass transit is constantly threatened. In an article touting the benefits of it, Britannica noted: “Where the automobile is a major competitor to mass transportation, the use of transit has declined… political support has eroded as well… If the automobile provides superior service for the majority of riders, why not let the market operate without government intervention, perhaps leading to the demise of transit?”

Actively or tacitly, I think many people recognize when a place – I’m talking to YOU, Boston! – doesn’t put adequate resources behind mass transit. I understand from one of my sisters that mass transit in Charlotte, NC, has collapsed.

So, at least some of us have become not just users but advocates for it as a matter of equity and ecology.  Britannica: “Some portion of the urban travel market is made up of people who cannot use the automobile to travel because they are handicapped, elderly, or too young to drive…” My daughter goes to work on the bus, and I used to. “If these people are to have the mobility essential for subsistence and satisfaction in their lives, some form of public transportation is necessary.”

Public good

“Transit provides a community with a way to move potentially large numbers of people while consuming fewer resources… When it is well utilized, it produces important benefits for the community: air-quality improvements, less land consumption than an auto-dependent transportation system, lower energy requirements, and lower accident costs.” I hear tell there’s some global warming taking place.

So it is incumbent for some of us who use mass transit to make at least a minimal effort to make the experience positive. When someone is trying to catch the bus and is four buildings away, I take my time getting on the vehicle, giving them a chance to catch a ride. Others have done the same for me.

The Capital District Transportation Authority buses have bicycle racks. I’ve gotten off the bus to help someone get their bike attached. In part, it’s because I had trouble figuring it out initially.

Mass transit involves more coordination of schedules, of course. Sundays, in particular, do not have robust mass transit schedules. There is a certain chauvinism among some car drivers who can’t understand not being in their own “steel cocoons.” On the other hand, cars involve far more expenses: maintenance, insurance, fuel, parking, and in some locales, gridlock.


My favorite way to travel intercity is by train. I’ve said more than once that taking the train is the only civilized way of traveling. Since 2010, I’ve traveled twice by plane from Albany, NY: to San Diego, CA, in 2018, and to Paris, France, in 2023.

I’ve found people on the train to be more mellow than airline passengers. Conversations with total strangers are common. I think it’s because fellow travelers are in a  club that appreciates seeing the country without being behind the wheel.  So they tend to be helpful in a way that disciples of a cause tend to be.

Of course, a half-full train is ecologically more sound than riding on the interstate, though getting to the final destination may be problematic. I love taking the Metro North from Poughkeepsie to Yankee Stadium, which is exceptionally easy.

Toronto commuters

Kelly, I’m curious about the “tell” from those Toronto commuters. It reminds me of when I’d ride my bicycle in Albany, and another bicyclist would wave or at least give a head nod. We’re part of the club.

Perhaps these commuters are using a part of their brains, negotiating a system that others are not adept at. I haven’t lived in NYC since 1977 and don’t travel there that often. Yet the subway system was astonishingly familiar when I was there in May 2023.

Maybe it’s the same brain cells that prefer paper maps to GPS. That tends to be me, for whom subway/light rail maps are easy. The first time I went to San Diego with its then-new light rail, c. 2003, I negotiated the system quickly. When I was in the car, I knew I couldn’t find my way back to where I started.

I tasted that in France, traveling from the wedding to the reception, a 45-minute trip. The car had GPS, which worked fine. But we had no idea what direction we were traveling, which was disorientating.

December rambling #2: American Routes

Agent Orange is on target to violate the Constitution the moment he takes the oath of office<

Sift quotes of 2016

The truth about lying

Amy Biancolli: words words words words words words words

Words we can live without

John Cleese discusses genes

This was from mid-November: John Oliver talked about how 2016 sucked, especially in the NSFW ending, starting at 23:23.
99 Reasons Why 2016 Was a Good Year

S.2943 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 includes in Section 1287, the GLOBAL ENGAGEMENT CENTER, which, some fear, will allow the government to decide what is ‘truth’

The Jim Crow election effect

Homer and Harold – “Stories abound of present-day prosecutors who have lost their way, who do anything to win a conviction, who place politics above principle.” This is a fascinating story of the exact opposite

Hmm: The My Lai Massacre Inspires an Opera One of the most horrific episodes of the Vietnam War is being made into an opera; also, Larry Colburn died; he helped stop the massacre

My affection for the late Carrie Fisher ran well beyond her bad-ass Star Wars appearances, most notably Postcards from the Edge, for which wrote the screenplay; but also as a script doctor, plus her whole life narrative writ large. “Going through challenging things can teach you a lot, and they also make you appreciate the times that aren’t so challenging” – recollections from SamuraiFrog and Mark Evanier and Ken Levine, plus artists’ tributes

Presbyterians rank oldest, Muslims among youngest in new Pew survey

Epidemic of mall brawls spreads across US on day after Christmas

Jewish family flees Lancaster County after wrongly being blamed for Christmas play cancellation

The late Cindy Stowell won a total of $103,801 during her six-episode run on JEOPARDY!, some of which was donated toward cancer research

Money is pouring into immunotherapy research for cancer, but most of the patients who get into experimental trials are white

Black children see more TV ads for junk food than white kids

Cities across the country are cutting public transportation because they think ride-hailing services will fill the gap; they’ll regret it

Arthur answers my questions about podcasting and his female crush and murder in virtual reality and politics and Facebook

Holiday doll shopping yields far more diversity this season than in years past

World’s oldest woman turns 117

Work fact of the month: in Moldova, Moldovan is spoken by 58.8% (official; virtually the same as the Romanian language), Romanian 16.4%, Russian 16%, Ukrainian 3.8%, Gagauz 3.1% (a Turkish language), Bulgarian 1.1%, other 0.3%, unspecified 0.4%.

The very impressive SNL stage crew

The Midnight Ride of Sybil Ludington and Blanketing the Maternity Wards and You’ve Got the Right Stuffed and Japan’s Lucky Break

Is ‘Die Hard’ a Christmas movie? (I am agnostic on this)

What Flirting Looked Like in 2016

Chuck Miller’s most prolific commenters

Man’s Golf Shot from Frozen Hazard Goes Terribly Wrong

NOT ME: Minister Rev. Roger Green has stepped down from his role at Briercliffe Road Baptist Methodist Church after what he described as many happy years in the post

Agent Orange

Christmas (NOT HOLIDAY) Yule Log – the Daily Show

The Year of “This Can’t Be Happening”

The Danger of the “Just Campaign Rhetoric” Excuse

On target to violate the Constitution the moment he takes the oath of office

Russian registry

Private security force ‘playing with fire’

In hiding

The First Amendment Gives Too Much Protection For Press

An ardent supporter wonders: why do progressives assume I am an uneducated low intelligence neanderthal?

Jump in US, Brit migrants to New Zealand after Brexit, AO win


American Routes is a weekly two-hour public radio program produced in New Orleans, presenting a broad range of American music — blues and jazz, gospel and soul, old-time country and rockabilly, Cajun and zydeco, Tejano and Latin, roots rock and pop, avant-garde and classical. Now in our 15th year on the air, American Routes explores the shared musical and cultural threads in these American styles and genres of music — and how they are distinguished.

Carla Ulbrich -on owning the rights to the F-word

Ringo Starr & Carrie Fisher – You’re Sixteen taping session for the 1978 TV special “Ringo” – 1978 version with CF vocals here or here, the original 1973 version here

Eddie Holland came up with some dandy 45s

Cheese And Onions – THE RUTLES (1969)

Neil Sedaka is still back

Ronnie Spector: For Every Kiss You Give Me, I’ll Give You Three

Hours of Popcorn

It’s Not a Rumor, recorded in 1980 by The Nu-Kats, song co-written by Demi Moore

Obit for pop star Laura Branigan corrected, 12 years later – I was disappointed by those who said, “Why bother?”

How playing an instrument benefits your brain – Anita Collins

Chuck Berry Invented the Idea of Rock and Roll By Bill Wyman

Chuck Close Immortalizes Lou Reed, Philip Glass and Others in 2nd Avenue Subway

All of life’s transportation riddles are answered in the movies

Two of my favorite transportation quotes are these…

A few weeks ago, I was riding on a CDTA bus when the vehicle started making a loud clanking sound in the area behind the driver. It went on for about two minutes but seemed longer. Finally, it stopped as quickly as it started. I said aloud, to no one in particular, “Oil can!” A few people laughed, catching my Wizard of Oz movie reference.

I was reminded of a line from the 1991 film Grand Canyon, in which the Steve Martin character says: “That’s part of your problem: you haven’t seen enough movies. All of life’s riddles are answered in the movies.” I’m convinced there is some truth to that.

Two of my favorite transportation quotes are these:
From Midnight Cowboy (1969): I’m walkin’ here! Which, I COULD say daily.
From Starman (1984) – Yellow light – go very fast. Which, unfortunately, is how too many drivers perceive the yellow light.

What are YOUR favorite movie quotes that are related to getting somewhere by foot, by horse, by canoe, or by some more mechanical means?
IMDB’s top 250 movies mashed into a 2.5m clip

Can’t explain why it pleases me so that SamuraiFrog has come to the same view about the Spike Lee film Do The Right Thing as I had, though SF’s revelation was a bit more recent. I always thought it was the best movie of 1989.

Ever since I did that 100 things about movies, I’ve been thinking about the people and things left out, like Burt Reynolds, Jill Clayburgh, movies made in the Albany area that I DID see, The Absent-Minded Professor series, and the Back to the Future series. Maybe I’ll do another list – in about 20 years…

Getting to Work Has Just Gotten Tougher

The Capital District Transportation Authority, the bus service for the Albany/Schenectady/Troy, NY area, has instituted a major revamping of its buses in Albany. It’s not just changing a few schedules, it’s dropping some buses and adding others.

For me, taking the bus to church has gotten easier when we have an early service; the first bus is now 8:04 rather than 8:52.

On the other hand, getting to work, starting tomorrow, has gotten a whole lot more difficult. I pretty much laid it out here. There might be one or two other options, but these involve the daughter leaving for school much earlier than has been her habit.

The other fact is that the bus to Corporate Woods won’t be going by my building, but rather I have to walk down this curvy road in the morning, and, worse, walk up this curvy road, where vehicles go terribly fast, at night, with no sidewalk; when it’s been snowing, that’s potentially dangerous, especially the way the Brinks trucks barrel down that road.

Something else: CDTA has gotten rid of some of the bus stops in order to increase fuel efficiency. One of them is about 20 feet from our front porch. I’ll miss it for nostalgic reasons. When I was taking the Daughter to preschool, we would often run to the stop just ahead of the bus a block away.

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