Yesterday I spent the afternoon at GreenFest Philly, and I took public transportation from South Jersey to get into Philadelphia. I then walked about 12 blocks to get to the festival. I wavered back and forth on taking the public transportation. Since I live in the suburbs it’s not usually how I get places because there isn’t a good system in place, but there is a high speed line station in my town that takes people between here and Philadelphia so I decided to use it.
When I got to the train station, my first thoughts were “it would be so much faster just to drive over the bridge.” But I wanted to do the right thing. Then the stupid ticket machine kept spitting out my dollars and gave me only a two second window to ask for a receipt which I missed. I was rather annoyed by the time I sat down to wait TWENTY minutes for the next train. Again I thought, “I could have driven and been there before the train even arrives.”
By the time I actually got to the festival, however, I realized that my whole attitude had changed. The environmental benefits of taking public transportation are well known. Less cars on the road mean less pollution. Less fuel used by individual motorists means less of our natural resources consumed. But I realized by the time I hit Headhouse Square where the festival was being held that there are other benefits to taking public transportation.
- Time to be alone with your thoughts – Sure I would have been alone with my thoughts in my car, but my thoughts would have been different. They would have been thoughts about navigating the Ben Franklin Bridge or the crazy city drivers or where to find a parking space. Instead I got to actually think through things like ideas my pastor had brought up during the sermon earlier that morning. Taking public transportation can take the mental stress out of a commute.
- The ability to listen to podcasts or read - After I got done thinking, I turned on my iPod. I love the More Hip than Hippie podcasts, but I rarely get a chance to actually listen to them. On the train and on my walk from the train to my destination I got to listen to More Hip than Hippie and learn some green stuff that really interested me. I also got to read some of the literature that I picked up at the festival on the train ride home.
- Forced exercise – Almost all of us need more exercise. The twelve block walk to and from the festival helped me to get some in without hitting the gym or popping in an exercise DVD.
- A chance to discover new places and things – I would have never found the independent bookstore I discovered as I was walking or noticed the charming row homes with their beautiful flower boxes on Locust Street if I had been whizzing by in my car.
- A sense of confidence and accomplishment – I successfully navigated the pubic transportation system and walked through the city without getting lost. For some people those are every day occurrences. For others of us, it’s a big accomplishment. I was so pleased with this little success that I’m thinking that next time I use public transportation to go into the city, I may actually ride my bike the mile and a half to the train station instead of taking my car. How pleased will I be with myself then?
- Money saved - My round trip train ticket cost $4.30 (once the stupid ticket machine took my money). Crossing the bridge would have cost $3.00. Parking would have cost at least $5, probably more since the parking garages near the festival were likely to take advantage of the increased Sunday business. Taking the train cost almost half of what driving would have.
How about you? What benefits do you see from taking public transportation that are beyond environmental?
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons