Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day Story

Last year I came to Brandeis via carpool. This year, since my carpool driver left, I've depended on public transportation. Sadly, I've noticed that the quality of the buses has gone down serverly over the past few months. I blame the recession - more people riding and, I believe, budget cuts that have made busses more unreliable (and possibly the drivers as well). Whatever the cause, I have missed connecting buses many times because my main route (the 52) is never on time.

This is a problem especially when I have a 9am class - because rush-hour makes the bus errors even worse. So this morning, like many a Wednesday, the buses just decided not to run, and I needed to take the emergency route, which involves a taxi.

Note, it is 22 miles from my house to Brandeis. By car, direct route, it should take 20 minutes (17 according to Google Maps). By public transport, if I'm lucky, it's an hour door to door. Many of the "direct" routes (meaning that from the start of the first bus to then end of the last bus, barring schedule mishmash or missing connections) it can take 90 minutes or more. This is nuts. Brandeis is so close to Newton, yet in can take as long to get there as it did to go from New Haven to New York City! Public transportation should not suck! It's better for poor people, better for the environment, better for traffic etc to have good, reliable, common public transport. Rant, rave.

Anyhoo, if I want to go lickity split, then I take the train to the end of the line (Riverside) and then hop a cab to campus. Were there a shuttle bus to campus from Riverside - an idea that's too logical and cost effective to be implemented, this would validate the whole public-travel enterprise. But, as you pessimists have already determined, it don't happen that way.

A main taxi provider in my area is Veteran's Taxi. I once asked where the name comes from and I was told, by the non-vet driver, that the company was founded by veterans. But, luck would have it, the driver I had was an honest-to-goodness vet. USArmy, 1958-1963; good years - he avoided 'Nam (but he was assigned to guard missile silos in Alaska... I wonder who he annoyed to get that assignment). I took extra time allowing him to regale me with his war stories (minus, of course, the war) and I gave him a big tip as a recognition of karma and collective guilt/recompense.

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