Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Learning to Love Mass Transit

There's a lot of good intention in the world, just like there are a lot of good ideas. I occasionally work with entrepreneurs and I find what stymies people is not the idea, but how to implement the idea. A patent is worthless unless you or someone else can implement it. A good intention requires an effort to act on it. But sometimes the intention is a goal not an action, so what effort do you expend?

So for the next few posts I'll be tackling end goals, with tips and steps on how to accomplish those goals.
I'll be interspersing these suggestions with my comments on the news and eco-news. The first in the series will concern using mass transit.

1. Survey your options. The key to using mass transit is knowing what's available. Most transit sites have detailed information on their websites. Often you'll be surprised by what exists. People tend to rely on the easiest to understand, such as subway or train, but often slightly more complex alternatives can be quicker. I'm only learning more and more about the bus system around where I live.

For instance, the other day I was coming back from San Jose. Originally I thought light rail would be faster, and in fact that's what Google transit recommended. But upon further investigation taking a full local bus would be twenty minutes faster because it was direct. This was a saturday so traffic would not be a factor. The result was I decided to ride my bike all the way, but I might not in the future.

Another example, one time I was trying to get to Denver from a snowed in Atlanta (not a typo) and the storm was crippling much of the US. There were no direct flights to Denver existed so I asked the ticket agent could I go west, preferably to a hub and connect through there. I ended up via Chicago and home earlier. I think the LA and SF hubs would have got me in faster, even if I over shot. While not exactly mass transit, it goes to thinking creatively.

Getting around works because I had an understanding of the system. I really do fear that GPSes are making us stupid.

2. Invest in a Great Bag.

My plane trip transit adventure worked because I had no checked in bags. People often use their cars as lockers (I know I do) so a good bag is your new locker. It should be comfortable and light. Pass on frills as they prey on on our, "I could see using that" meme. Yeah you might use it 2098.

Think light and about your most frequent functions. Timbuk2 and Crumpler get it, making highly functional bags with a bit of attitude. I do like the look of the new Chrome bags, but jury is still out on whether the coolness offsets the utility. I also fear that as they become mass market they are getting North Faced bringing out feature laden products that detract from use rather than add to it. If you can find a made in USA Timbuk2 on Craigslist, snag it.

If you plan or need to carry a laptop. Think two things, a padded sleeve for your laptop and one pouch for AC adapter. Everything else is noise.

I mention Timbuk2 and Crumpler, but any good bag can meet your needs. If you don't need much, a "fanny pack" will do. The key is that it works with a capital "W" for you. You are likely to spend more time with this bag than your Significant Other.

A friend of mine is a yoga instructor and she carries all her apparatus in a roller backpack that she takes on the subway. It's made a difference in working.

Lastly, a nice feature is a water pouch if you spend a lot of time running from place.

3. think like a chess master

quiz: what are you doing when you are stuck in traffic.

answer: nothing

mass transit will have hiccups. just like life. be sure to carry one or two things you can do while waitng. a book, a podcast, a daytimer.

one of the great things about London is that people read there. it makes for a very literate city. move time becomes done time.

More Tips on how to Mass Transit Easier later


At 4:48 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi. Have you checked out HopStop.com for mass-transit directions?

At 12:02 PM , Blogger Melissa said...

Your comment on gps reminded me of that episode of "The Office" where michael drives his car into a lake because it tells him to turn right...I think it is making us dumber. or at least less willing to think.


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