Things I’m Going to Miss About America: Public Transportation

mass transit, public transportation, expat lifeI know public transportation exists in other countries — and in many places, better systems than we have in America. This isn’t about those countries. This is about where we’re going to be living.USAID posts are, for the most part, in developing countries. Put another way, all our posts are “hardship posts” to some degree.I know in some cities public transportation is OK to use, but in many others — including San Salvador — it is discouraged if not forbidden by the powers that be.mass transit, public transportation, expat life, transportation in new citiesSo back to my point: We love public transportation. Particularly when traveling and visiting new cities. Even Metro, for all its faults, has a special place in my heart. (I will try to remember this over the next couple months during every offloaded train, #hotcar, train malfunction, switch malfunction, weekend track work project, tourist-standing-on-the-left-side-of-the-escalator incident and other joys of riding Metro.)mass transit, public transportation, expat lifeWe’ve ridden the subway in New York; the L and CTA bus in Chicago; the T in BostonBART and Muni (metro, streetcar and bus) in San Francisco; and the light rail, streetcar and bus in Portland, Oregon. Los Angeles even has a Metro system (who knew?), which I discovered and used on my first trip to L.A. last fall (sans Kail).mass transit, public transportation, expat life, We have a collection of single-ride tickets, day passes and even reloadable cards that “locals” use. I keep these things in an aptly named “keepsake box” in the event that one day I become crafty and start scrapbooking.mass transit, public transportation, expat lifeWe use mass transit not out of our desire to protect the environment, but because it’s cheap and a great way to see a new city. Other than running a marathon, there’s no better way to see a city than “learning” its public transportation system, mapping out a route to get from point A to point B, getting lost, walking around, getting lost, finding point B, mapping out a way to get from point B to point C, NOT getting lost, getting to point C, walking around, getting lost again, mapping out a way to get from point F to your hotel (after scrapping points D and E for the day given your terrible sense of direction), making it to your hotel without getting lost (from point F, that is) and feeling quite accomplished for the day. Thank God for smartphones and Google Maps/GPS. Seriously.mass transit, public transportation, expat lifeAlso, I hate driving (in traffic) and may or may not have road rage. I realize this is going to be a problem.Do you commute using public transportation or do you prefer the peace and quiet of your own car? What about when traveling in other cities: Subway? Cab? Double-decker tour bus (not gonna lie — am considering going on one before we leave DC)?

Published by La Vie Overseas

I'm Natasha -- writer, runner and wife to a Foreign Service Officer with USAID. Current location: Frankfurt, Germany.

16 thoughts on “Things I’m Going to Miss About America: Public Transportation

  1. You have to try the double-decker in DC. I used it for convenience, pregnant baby and toddler in tow. But it was rather enjoyable. I used to ride the Sky Train and Metro in BKK. It was always crowded and they never had enough carts, but at least it was clean, fast and efficient. Fast-Forward one year. I;m in Jakarta, craving public transportation and reminiscing about reading in the metro, whether in DC, Frankfurt or Brussels.

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    1. I think we’re going to do it and play tourists in our own city! Yeah I am really going to miss the convenience of Metro.

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  2. Minneapolis isn’t exactly a hub of public transportation (they’re really working on the light rail infrastructure), but when we’re in other cities that do have well-developed transportation? It is always the first choice. As one who road rages, I will be thinking of you!

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    1. I’ve never been to Minneapolis, but if Los Angeles can get behind subway, any city can! I also neglected to mention how great mass transit is for race-day transportation — something I’m sure you appreciate as well!

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  3. I can’t believe you didn’t include your experience on LA’s metro rail in this post. It was after a magical morning spent in Ross……

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  4. We have a new-ish (since we last lived in the area) light rail system here in Norfolk and there is talk that it might be one day extended to the Va Beach area. I’m pretty excited about it!

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  5. I really haven’t missed public transportation. I love the Metro in DC, but driving everywhere has been a pretty easy transition for me… perhaps because I grew up in the car-loving South. I think what you’ll miss the most is feeling comfortable walking anywhere. I personally think that walking here is fine, but it’s one of those things that if something were to happen to you while walking, you’d be on the wall of shame in the RSO’s office.

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    1. I’m kind of terrified about driving overseas, but I guess there are worse places to experience that for the first time than San Salvador! I’m definitely going to miss the mobility of being on foot — whether it’s just walking down the street or going for a run. I’ve heard mixed things about how safe it is to walk around, but of course I don’t want to run afoul of RSO or risk anything happening.

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      1. Hah. Don’t worry about running afoul. Shit happens. I’ve enjoyed running in this park.As for driving, it’s not too bad. Just always give a bus the right-of-way and you should be good.

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