Monday, May 02, 2016

The American public transportation system. It makes you want to drive.

Yodelers. There is something wrong with the American public transportation system. It's so good (insert sarcasm) it makes you want to drive.

But then, you don’t want to drive, because then you sit in endless traffic (because everyone else has come to the same conclusion that their public transport system won't work for them) and then you have to pay $30 to park, and then you can't even find a place to park.

Ok, ok. Maybe The Frau got spoiled by Switzerland. But based on all the Americans complaining about traffic, commutes, and lack of public transport options, maybe, just maybe, The Frau has every right to complain.

New York's La Guardia Airport, for example, DOES NOT CONNECT to New York's metro system. Imagine a European city not connecting its major airport to its train or subway system. It's just unthinkable. 

Well, the La Guardia example meant that it cost The Frau over $100 to get to a friend's house in a taxi. Americans pay the price for their lack of public transport every time they have to drive and park or take a taxi. It's insane.

The Frau’s sister recently had to change apartments in Boston. She now lives 6 miles from work. Sounds good, right? But to get to her office via American public transport, it takes her…drum roll…90 minutes.
There are no extra rides when you need them in the U.S.

This is not a joke. This is how broken the American transportation system is.

So The Frau’s sister tried driving. Took 45 minutes and cost $27 a day to park. But on days there is a baseball game, the parking garage kicks you out at 4:30 p.m. Even though you are required to pay $27 for the DAY. 

Desperate, The Frau’s sister tried biking to work. Took 45 minutes (wow, faster than public transport!) but the route is along busy roads and doesn’t feel very safe nor will it work during half the year in the snow.

Now let's go to another American city: Chicago. Compared to Boston, Chicago’s transport system is amazing. As amazing as a transport system is that doesn’t connect major train stations with other forms of transport can be, that is. As amazing as a transport system can be that can take you 15 miles in 20 minutes, but then take 45 minutes to go the last 1.5 miles of your journey. Will Chicago ever consider bus-only lanes? That is the question.

Needless to say, The Frau misses Swiss public transport. Seeing the Gotthard Tunnel getting ready to open on June 1 does not make this any easier.

See, it took the Swiss 17 years to build a 35-mile long tunnel through a mountain. In comparison, it took 70 years for one Chicago suburb just to repave 10 miles of their roads. Yes. Supposedly this summer, after 70 years, the suburb next to the one The Frau is living in will fix the pothole-ridden roads and The Frau might be able to bike down the street again.

Oh, America, there’s a reason The Frau works from home.


Kimberly said...

Public transport is the thing I miss most about CH, except my friends, of course. Not only is it convenient and punctual, but it also means teens have complete freedom without needing to be driven or chauffeured. My girls' lack of freedom has been their biggest adjustment in moving back to the US; getting a driver's license is not an overnight endeavor.

Anonymous said...

The price to park a car in Zurich is comparable to a big US-City. The Frau should know even have to pay at IKEA.

However public transport is for sure something difficult in North America. At least, here in Canada are "bus only" lanes and they are trying at least to promote public transport. And they are working on it. My husband now has 30 minutes until he is in Montreal city by bus (and we have to pass a bridge). Two years before he had a pleasant drive of up to 60 minutes from the subburbs!

But for sure the train system in Germany and Switzerland is perfect, even if the Germans are very often not satisfied with it. But they haven't been here. We have a train station in our town, but there is no service on the weekend and during the week only at peek times, two times a day.....

Hattie said...

Ummmm spam, another American specialty. And now Trump as well. AND our lousy transportation system.

Anonymous said...

People, there's a big difference between living in a real city and living in a suburb, whether it's in the US or Switzerland. Saying you live in some large city when you live in a suburb that's not even an inner suburb, you're not in a position to complain about life in that large city because the fact is you don't even live in the large city you always refer to yourself as living in. Suburban public transport in Switzerland on average is not tremendously better than that in the US. First, in Switzerland the trains that go to those suburbs stop service somewhat early, and then once you're in that suburb you'll find that the local bus from the train station (if there's even a local bus) stopped service early to mid evening.
For the sake of accurately reflecting reality, Medford for example is not Boston, and Westmont for example is not Chicago. Boston is Boston and Chicago is Chicago.

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