Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Excuse me, May I Sit Next to You? 6 Tips for Traveling on a Crowded Bus or Train

For years I've traveled around Miami using public transportation. And until a few weeks ago, many people -- including a few friends -- thought I was odd to navigate without a car. That's because in car-crazy Miami, public transportation was reserved for the homeless, the disenfranchised and former New Yorkers like me.

And for the last 14 years, I've traveled comfortably on the buses and trains routed through South Florida. I've commuted in style, with very little company. During a typical commute, I could move to a different seat at each stop and never bump into anyone.

That's changed. With gas prices spiking beyond $4 a gallon, I now have a lot of company on local trains. Here's a local story about the huge growth in ridership on a commuter train in South Florida.

I'm grateful for the company, and I offer these tips for novice riders on public transportation:

  • 1. Bring reading material. Get extra mileage out of your commute by bringing a book, a magazine or some other text that can be easily folded. Think compact.

  • 2. Keep the laptop in its case. A bus stop or a train seat is not the best place to whip out high-tech, big-ticket gadgets. Don't make yourself a tempting target.

  • 3. Ask about discount plans. Some companies subsidize monthly passes for employees who travel on public transportation. Transit systems also offer a variety of discount programs. Ask!

  • 4. Go audio: Bring along recorded music, books on tapes, language lessons or recorded self-help classes. Learn as you go!

  • 5. Be patient: Buses break down; trains get derailed. Leave enough time for mishaps and then just let go and sit back. Getting uptight about delays will not make the train or bus move faster.

And finally: # 6. Know your timetables. Research routes and schedules. It's a real bummer to arrive at the bus stop or train station two minutes after the vehicle has pulled out. You'll save time and (personal) energy by doing your homework. Many public transit systems offer free trip-planning services -- via phone or online -- that will help you map out your commute. Inquire about printed schedules and maps.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am also a long-time public transportation commuter. On of my bus-riding buddies always carries her bag of knitting. All the regulars love to watch her latest sweater construction, and with those needles in hand, she manages to have plenty of room, even when the bus is full. Books on tape are also terrific for public transportation traveling.