Commuter Train How I learned to stop worrying and love public transit
It's Friday morning and I'm back on the train to work. Since I started my most recent job, I take the train somewhere around 95% of the time. Occasionally, I regret that choice, but only very rarely. For the most part, commuting by train is a vastly superior way to travel, especially commuting via the Dallas/Fort Worth Trinity Railway Express (TRE). This commuter train connects downtown Fort Worth with downtown Dallas with a few key stops in between. It comes with free Wifi, comfortable seats, and tables for placing laptops and books during your commute. I personally would generally prefer if they would charge a token amount for the Wifi over and above the ticket price, because so many people connect during rush hour that it is borderline useless.
(Side-note: See how bourgeois I have become since I gained a little money. More than willing to part with some of it to get a better experience than those who can't afford to be so frivolous.)
During rush hour traffic, I could drive the distance to my work in 45 minutes to an hour and a half, depending upon the traffic. The TRE reliably gets me to downtown Dallas in 45 minutes, day in, day out. From there I transfer to the DART trains. Unlike the TRE, these are reliably not comfortable, not clean, and not pleasant, but I only have to be on them for fifteen minutes to go from Union to my stop, and from there it's a two minute walk to the office. The only positive things I can say about the DART is that I am not on them long, and that they run on time 98% of the time.
While many of my compatriots in the work-a-day world sit around in traffic getting stressed out every morning before they even arrive at the office, instead I sit in a comfortable train the great bulk of the way. I read books. (See the list on the right.) I write poetry. I write blog posts, like this one, utilizing MacVim and VimRepress. I even play games every now and then, though not as often as you'd think. It's a topic for another day, but I really don't play games more often than once or twice a month now. Liswamírë games more than I do now, and its rare for her as well.
I wish other people shared my positive view on train travel. I'm fortunate that I work in one of the few places in the Metroplex where taking the train to work is actually feasible. I live about 2 miles from one of the Fort Worth stations and work only hundreds of feet from a station in Dallas. Most people aren't so lucky, especially around here, and even if they wanted to take the train, they would have to transfer on a bus to get where they really wanted to go. And the act of so much as stepping foot on a bus completely destroys all benefits of train travel, like an inefficient, dirty, slow black hole of unreliability.
Unlike the trains, the buses in Dallas are worse than useless, they are actively repugnant. It's as if the Dallas public transit officials have no concept of traffic or rush hour. They set overly optimistic schedules (that still have the buses running only once every half hour), then let them run late every single day at rush hour. I agree rarely with Peter Hitchens, but here is one point where he hit the nail on the head: the countries that have great public transit are the ones where the upper-middle class will ride it. Unfortunately, that's a chicken and egg problem. As long as the well to do don't ride it, they don't care if its slow, inefficient, and miserable. And they won't ride it until it ceases to be slow, inefficient, and miserable. And here comes my libertarian streak: businesses solve this problem all the time. You take out a capital loan and invest in making it NOT slow, inefficient, and miserable, in the anticipation that you can charge steeper rates for the well-to-do people that show up. The time is ripe Dallas: gas-prices are high-as-hell. And the roads are getting expensive enough to maintain that there is a ballot initiative to yank money out of the Texas "Rainy Day Fund" just to keep them up.
Okay, stepping back from politics. Things almost got heated there, and strayed for just a moment into unpleasant, hostile territory.
But, I really do like the TRE. And I really do wish there were more trains like it, and that I could ride it more often and take it (or a train like it) to more places. At the moment, I get to take it to work and to the Angelika and...that's it. And I only go to the Angelika once or twice a year.
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