I am a strong supporter of public amenities. I believe in publicly-funded health care, I believe in a good public school system (even though my kids attend private Jewish schools), I believe in a government that takes care of its citizens. And I believe in public transportation. At least, I try really, really hard to do so!
Last night I needed to go downtown. I was writing an exam at one of the local universities, and between the high cost of parking, the Christmas shoppers, and the general headache of downtown traffic, I decided to take the Better Way, as our local transit system bills itself.
My route was easy: a short bus ride to a subway, which would let me off in the underground maze connected to my building. Perfect! I had plenty of time, and hoped to do a bit of window shopping before my exam. Waiting for the bus, I had a nice conversation with a woman getting ready to spend three weeks in Kenya (have a great trip, whoever you are!), the bus came in good time, and the connection to the subway was quick and seamless
And that’s where the trouble began. Subways are amazing for travelling quickly with total disregard for the traffic on the streets above. Red lights, people turning,and pedestrians are no problem for those trains on their subterranean tracks. But, oh, those tracks…
Halfway downtown, the train stopped. Announcements came on, telling us of a delay on the line. Then we started moving again. Then another stop and more announcements. This fitful, stop-and-start journey continued as we slowly jerked our way towards the downtown core and my exam room, and then came the fatal announcement: due to a problem at one of the downtown stations, all trains were turning back at the edge of the downtown core.
My exam was several stations past that last stop, and because of the slow trip downtown, all my extra time was quickly vanishing. My only real option was to get off at that last stop and run! The distance was not huge, but it was enough that I was not in a great mood when I finally found my building. There was no time for window shopping. I barely made it for the start time of the exam. And all I could think, while waiting on the train, and then trekking through the crowds clogging the sidewalks, was how, just perhaps, driving might have been the Better Way after all.