Sunday, June 28, 2009

learning new bus routes

(by Tracy)

It's been a very busy weekend where normally I would use a car for several events and errands. I really wanted to try and do it all without resorting to a zipcar, partly because I'm cheap, and partly because I really want to do as much as possible without requiring a car.

On Saturday Kira and I needed to go to her hairdresser in Somerville for her hair to be touched up. We had an 11:30am appointment. Before leaving, I mapped out a couple of possible routes on the MBTA trip planner. Armed with printed itineraries and maps we set out at 10:10am. Our original plan was to take the Green Line E branch train to Lechmere and catch a bus that would get us within a quarter mile of the appointment. The train came right away, which was a good thing, and it looked like it was scheduled to go all the way to Lechmere. Sadly - the green line doesn't always do what you might want and the train ended up ending service at North Station. We had to get off and wait for another train. We only had about 15 minutes to catch our bus connection. We waited about 5 minutes for another green line train, but it didn't come and we ended up going down to the orange line (our 2nd possible itinerary). This route also had a bus connection that would have gotten us to within a block of our destination - but we unfortunately missed it and ended up walking about 1.2 miles to the appointment and arrived about 5 minutes late.

Because we were already on that side of town, we decided to combine trips and made our way over to the Cambridgeside Galleria to shop for some summer clothes for both Kira and Noah. All public transportation worked out perfectly for this set - I had a bus schedule on me that showed me how to get from somerville to lechmere very easily.

Today we went to our garden in Roxbury by bike. I finally did it! I'd been fearing this trip because of the uphill part and knew that I'd just have to bite the bullet and try it. Indeed there are quite a few hills along the way, but we made it in about 18 minutes. I ended up walking up the last hill (for about a block) - it was such a steep one at the end! We stayed at the garden for about two hours - harvesting, weeding, transplanting and picking some awesome, tiny, sweet blackberries - Yum! Then we began home by a different route. It took about 15 minutes or so. Not bad!

I was tired out from the biking/gardening, so I chose to take public transportation to my friend's house in Watertown for an afternoon of Mah Jongg. I caught the first bus at Kenmore Square and it was a few minutes late getting started, which made me miss my 2nd bus which was to take me the last mile or so. Thankfully I knew another friend would be driving by in a few minutes, so I called her up and got a ride for that last little bit.

So, all in all, I was able to do everything I wanted to this weekend without a car. Some observations:
  • planning tight bus connections is a problem - particularly on weekends when buses run less frequently.
  • an iphone(or it's equivalent) would be really nice for getting real-time bus schedule information so I can change plans on the fly.
  • frankly, with a little advance planning, an iphone isn't really necessary :-)
  • if I keep this up, I'm going to get a lot of reading time on public transportation!
  • I'd like to work up my bike endurance so that a trip to the garden (3 miles round trip) and a bike trip to Watertown (9 miles round trip) wouldn't be a big deal in the same day - but I'm not there yet.
  • This whole experience is still new, so missing bus connections and having to wait for transportation didn't seem a big burden to me. I suspect that this could change - so more reason to keep up with biking.

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