Friday, February 16, 2007

Transit tremors

I’ve dealt with a lot of public transportation in my day. I had most of the bus routes in Pittsburgh memorized almost ten years ago, and there was a time when I could tell you all the stations, in order, on the Jubilee line of the London Underground. I’ve taken trains all over England and Spain, and dealt with the urban rail systems of Berlin (where I didn’t speak the language) and Barcelona and Madrid (where I did, mostly). In the last year and a half, I took the 1 and 9 trains and M60 bus in New York City, and rode on Amtrak a handful of times. When I wasn’t walking or on a bike in Boston, I was on the T, and because I was too cheap for taxis in Philadelphia, I enjoyed riding on SEPTA trains and trolleys there. I bought a SmarTrip stored value transit pass and now feel like a total Washington insider when I avail myself of the WMATA. And, trivially, I’ve made my way up and down Houston’s “Red Line,” the first part in a miserably slow project to build a light rail system there, and transferred at Rome’s Termini station, where the Eternal City’s two lines intersect.

I am not scared of public transportation. I actually like it. I like public transportation to the extent that I don’t plan on owning a car for the first while after I move back to the U.S. So I was surprised at myself when I looked at the map of the Tokyo subway system and felt overwhelmed. Perhaps that means that I have met my match. The public transportation Mothra to my public transportation Godzilla, I suppose would be the best way of thinking about it.

I think I’m up to it. But am I, really? Watch this space.

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