Why I STOPPED taking public transportation

Two words: the public [no, I’m not a snob].

In March of 2008 I decided to use public transportation to travel to work. By Metrorail, I was only three stops away from the Greenbelt Metro Station. I had to catch a bus from near my house to the West Hyattsville Metro Station and then would catch a bus from Greenbelt Metro Station to the job site.

I was a pioneer! At the job site I was the only employee using public transportation. The job site is in a nearby suburb of Washington, DC. Everyone drives.

I became a huge advocate of public transportation. And a handful of other employees began taking public transportation too. I had started a trend!

But things have changed. What in particular?

Over the three plus years of taking public transportation to and from work, I have observed others sipping from their Starbucks coffee cups or other containers. Presently, no eating or drinking is allowed (though Metro is considering allowing patrons to sip drinks on the train. Of course, IMHO, Metro is “caving in.” Metro has signs posted at various stations of a diner. The sign says something to the effect that the Metrorail car is not a diner. Don’t treat it like one. So, why allow patrons to sip drinks?)

Worse still are people who eat on Metro. I have observed this more during the evening rush hour. An individual will board a Metrorail car with food, sit down and begin eating. HELLO, don’t you know you can’t EAT on Metro! I have watched people eating KFC, sunflower seeds (tossing shells on the floor), chips, donuts, etc.

Then there are the individuals who either fail to use earplugs to listen to their music or despite earplugs, the music is so loud everyone else hears it. Funny, it’s never classical music that is blaring. It’s rap. I have approached individuals about turning down their music. It quickly dissolves to that individual becoming quite annoyed and nasty. On one occasion there was a Metro employee sitting in the car where someone was playing their music loudly. I approached this Metro employee and asked if he would advise the individual to turn off the music (no earplugs). The Metro employee responded by pointing to the intercom and directing me to notify the operator of the train. Yes, that Metro employee was not helpful at all.

These rule violations do not occur solely on Metrorail but also on Metrobus. For instance, about two weeks ago, I was on a bus headed home and two individuals holding small brown paper bags in their hands boarded the bus. Less than a minute later I heard a “pop” indicative of the opening of soda cans. I didn’t bother to turn around because I knew the source.

I was such an advocate of public transportation that I would drive to the credit union on Saturdays rather than drive my car to work during the week and stop at the credit union along the way (credit union is very close to my job). If I absolutely needed to deposit a check at the credit union during the week, I would take a bus from the job site to the credit union (the travel time took about 30 – 45 minutes roundtrip).

When I began taking public transportation in March 2008, there were four buses I could take to and from the job site. Today there are only two. And the bus schedules are not always convenient for me. I often walked from the job site to the metro station (about 16 – 19 minute walk).

Effective September 1st I began driving to work. I’m no longer reducing my carbon footprint. I don’t have the luxury “to leave the driving to someone else” and read, text or listen to music. And, financially, it is a big loss, from receiving a monthly transit subsidy to paying for additional gasoline.

Yes, financially I lose. But from a flexibility perspective (to be able to shop after work or during lunch) it is a big WIN. And, the best part is my commute is the opposite direction of traffic 🙂


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