18.10.11

Why Public Transportation Sucks

I don't drive a car.

I got my driver's license when I was 18, fresh into uni and eager to smash through my first milestone in my journey towards adulthood. (That was before I found out that adulthood sucks.) I sat behind the wheel about ten times; I nearly died/killed someone else/caused a massive traffic accident eight out of those times.

("Yay! I smashed through my first milestone!")

It wasn't really my fault... not every time, anyway. The first time I drove a car, my dad (who was sitting at the passenger seat) decided to take me on the highway. Then he decided to inform me that we were about to miss the exit thirty seconds in advance. Then he started screaming at me to turn towards the exit. Which was twenty feet away. And a small road. And a two-way street.

I still wonder how I managed to park within seconds while going about 50m/ph and avoid a collision with the car which was coming the other way. I was lucky, and amazing.

It might have been my fault a couple other times, though. Like that time when I was on the far left lane and I needed to make a U-turn on a main road, so I cut through three lines of traffic as soon as the traffic light turned green. The shouting and screaming was so stressful that all I managed was to switch to the far right lane and go on, unable to hide my face in shame as I had to keep my eyes on the road. But at least nobody died.

Then my dad, the sole owner of the car, came up with this little tidbit of brilliance: "I will not let you drive again until you learn how to drive."


Ever since then, I've been doomed to a life completely reliant upon the whims of public transportation. (I could have bought a car of my own, but I decided to spend my money on a degree instead.) I've been commuting long enough to know what every single public transport user knows in their heart to be true: that public transportation sucks. Here's why:

#1: It's unreliable.

Yes, trains come every 3-5 minutes. Buses can take up to 10, or 15. It really depends on the time of day, the areas you're commuting from and whether the drivers are having an "I'm a cunt" day. You can check online for times and schedules, and with the help of Google Maps, you can plan ahead and save yourself some time.

But what about renovation works?



I remember this going since at least 2008. I'm constantly curious about what exactly it is they're renovating; they're not building more lifts, that's for sure. (You never notice how few London Underground stations have lifts until you're forced to travel from Zone 1 to 3 with a backpack, a suitcase and a piece of luggage to move into your new home. Yay for the city that's going to be hosting the Olympics next year.) What are they doing? Are they changing the tracks? Does it mean that once they're done, trains will cease to stop in the middle of the tunnel for one to three minutes and 99% of the non-secular passengers won't have to pray for no terrorist attack? Or does it maybe mean that once they're done, the facilities won't look as old as shit as they do now?

Whatever it is, I sure hope it's worth it because it's fucking our lives up. All of us.

And don't even get me started on rainy/snowy/windy days. You'd think a country where summer lasts approximately thirteen days and four hours would be better prepared for "adverse weather conditions", but no. It snows for two minutes and the whole fucking train system comes to a standstill.

(This is "adverse weather conditions", my dear U.K.)

It just makes you wonder where all that money we're paying is going towards. Speaking of...

#2: It's expensive.

How much does a single fare cost in your country? Because in London, a single trip in Zone 1 costs £2. A single trip in any other Zone costs £1.30, while a trip from Zone 1 to 3 costs £2.90. I haven't even checked the rest of the prices; I ordinarily only travel between Zones 1 to 3, so I haven't put that much thought into it.

Do those prices sound reasonable? Imagine you live where I live, where the closest tube station is about 15-20 minutes away, depending on your walking speed. You make plans with your mates to meet at a pub near a Zone 1 tube station, so you take the bus and then the tube to get there, and the same to come back.

If Bus = £1.30 and Tube = £2.90, then
(Bus + Tube) x 2 = A whole lot of fucking money

Yes, there's the daily cap (you reach it on your Oyster Card and it stops charging you) and there are weekly and monthly travelcards if you travel between many zones that often, but that doesn't change anything: it's still expensive. For what it offers, it's too expensive.

And what it offers is...

#3: It's dirty. (And so are people.)

This post has been too London-oriented so far, but I'm pretty sure this point is universal. All trains and buses are dirty, all over the world. If there's a country where people are obliged by law to take a shower before they enter the underground, please inform me now so I can migrate there tomorrow.

(A boy can only dream.)

A couple of years ago, I was on the tube. It was summer, and it was admittedly quite hot inside the wagon. Across from me stood a guy, around 40, bald, about 200 pounds, in shorts and a t-shirt drenched in sweat. He was literally dripping, and he was standing by the doors, probably wishing for a breeze every time they opened. His back was against the glass behind him, and you could tell that his shirt had left a nice imprint made of bodily fluids on it.

Two stations later, he got off the tube and one station later, a gorgeous lady got in. She was dressed in a very nice skirt and a professional shirt, and you could tell that she valued her appearance. She went and stood at the same spot as the sweaty guy, and put her back against the same glass.

Now I don't blame the poor guy for being sweaty. Who knows, he probably had a shower right before he left his house and had just been on the street all day. When it's a hot day, you can't judge. All I can say is that after witnessing that, I began to practise my skills in hovering.

#4: Rush hours are a bitch.

There's this very lovely video on YouTube about rush hour in Japan. I don't live in Japan, and have therefore never experienced the joy of being shoved inside a train by employees in order for the doors to manage to close, but I do live in a quite populated city, and I have had my fair share of rush hour experiences.

Combined with #3, this point would be enough to sustain my entire argument. There's nothing worse than being stuck inside a train with dozens of people pushing against you with their shoulders, legs and bags...especially if you're claustrophobic, like I am.

(OK, there might be a few worse things that can happen to a claustrophobic person.)

And finally...

#5: People suck.

As usual, public transportation sucks because the people who use it suck.

This can be divided into two sections: drivers, and passengers.

There is usually minimum interaction between drivers and passengers when it comes to the tube. Unless it is to inform you about unexpected delays or minding the closing doors, you will rarely hear from the driver on the train. Buses, however, are a whole different story.

For the one year I lived in Canterbury, I had devised a system: since there was only one set of doors which functioned both as an entrance and an exit and passengers had the habit of thanking the driver when they disembarked, I had made it a rule to obnoxiously storm out each time I wasn't satisfied with the driver -- either because they were driving like fucking maniacs or, most of the time, because they were uptight cunts.

("I'm an uptight cunt!")

I once took the bus with my sister in Canterbury, and we were approaching our stop. In fact, the bus had just departed from the penultimate stop, and swerved back into the lane. As soon as we covered a considerable distance from the previous stop, I hit the button to inform him of our decision to disembark on the next stop.

What a normal bus driver would've done is he would've continued driving, reached our stop, stopped, opened the doors, and received a "cheers" from my sister and me. What this guy did was stop in the middle of the road, start shouting "Why didn't you get out already?!" and open the doors again. When I shouted back, "That's not our stop, we're getting off at the next one," that only seemed to make him madder.

Needless to say, that driver got a well-deserved "Wanker" instead of a "Cheers" as I got out.

And then there's the passengers. Oh, the passengers.

Where does one start? With the people who think the train is their own personal club and you're there to witness their excellent DJ skills? The people who squeeze in before you can get out so that they can grab a seat before the old lady who's too busy carrying her hump to do the same? The people who leave their rubbish on the floor with the mentality that, oh well, whatever, someone else is going to clean it up? Or the people who fart in a confined space with limited ventilation?

("OK, who farted?!?")

So, yeah. I can't wait to get a car of my own.

Don't worry. I'll warn you when that happens.

P.S. I feel this post hasn't been funny enough, so here's a funny thing. This is how I feel every day when I'm trying to come up with a topic for this blog:


Peace out.

5 comments:

  1. Well. I hate public transport too, especially in Athens, but to be fair in Canterbury buses were very clean 99% of the time... :)

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  2. They were OK most of the time, but the drivers were still assholes.

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  3. Omg, you can pretty much lift this entire thing and apply it to the MTA. Man, fuck the MTA.

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  4. I think it applies to every single train system in the world, with slight variations.

    E.g. In Greece, train fares are much cheaper (1.40EUR for 1 1/2hr for any bus or train or metro), but drivers are twice as obnoxious.

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  5. I don't use public transportation because I live in small town USA. I'd have to walk 3 miles to catch a bus that would only take me to the local malls or colleges.

    The worst thing is even if I wanted to do that, get some exercise and ride the bus, they start too late to get anywhere on time in the morning, and end too early to get home.

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