I’ve been asking myself why I don’t use the bus for my daily commute when it’d be nearly as convenient as driving. I’d get from my front door to my desk in less total time each day via DART than I do via my own automobile. But I don’t make that choice. Â Here’s why.
1) Look at that map image above. That’s from a site called Mapnificent (H/T Atlantic Cities), which uses Google Maps tools to show how far a person can get from any address in a city via public transport within a given amount of time. That image represents how far you can go from our office within 30 minutes. Â It seems like a reasonably good coverage zone until you consider a) That if I lived south of downtown, I’d have a hell of a time getting here, apparently and b) It’s not such great coverage when you compare it to how far you can get in a lot of other cities. Â The main problem is how infrequently many buses and trains run. Sitting at the bus stop is going to eat up most of your 30 minutes, depending on which direction you need to go. Obviously the DART schedule is a function of how many riders are using the system, and it doesn’t make sense to run a bunch of empty buses or trains. But the bus that serves my home runs once every 30 minutes. Â That lack of convenience is difficult to want to deal with.
2) I can park downtown just as cheaply. The Arts District Parking Garage, which is a short walk from our office, will run you $65 a month. That just so happens to be the same cost as a DART monthly pass. There are a lot of available parking spots in this neighborhood, for which I am grateful, and which helps to keep the cost down. If the city is interested in seeing more downtown workers use public transportation – which, based on support for the Trinity River Toll Road, it doesn’t seem that they are – parking has got to become more expensive. Find a way to have the market jack up the cost, and I would get on the bus.
3) I don’t feel any Hipster-Urban-Hydra-implanted guilt that I should be supporting a more sustainable form of transportation. I only live about 3 miles from work. On many days that 6-mile round trip is about as much as I drive. I don’t get on any highways to get to the office. I don’t feel like I’m part of the problem. Then again, is that the way we all think about it? Â Peter cited in his recent post a book by Frank Hendriks, who describes a tension between egalitarianism and individualism in these public policy debates. Â But I’m no die-hard individualist, I don’t think. A car to me is just a machine for getting from A to B – not an object of lust – so I’d be more than happy to get out from behind the wheel.
But if that’s what you want, oh Great Overlords of Urbanism, you’re going to have to make me. Radical steps are required.
Just don’t try to tell me I should be biking. It’s 95+ degrees around here for at least a couple months every year, for goodness’ sake.