Car Free. Try a different view.

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Public Transport 101 (And what I wish Galveston/Houston would learn).

Depending on where you live there are typically various forms or at least one form of public transportation. When living car free there are times when one must utilize these forms, if they don’t all the time (I am personally more of a bike rider and walker.)

I suggest you see public transport as a time saver and an adventure to help with the ease of use. I love to read, listen to podcasts and see different neighborhoods by taking public transport. It’s also there for me when I need to carry items not best carried by bike (either too much, too heavy or perhaps a freshly baked cake.)

You don’t have to bike at all if you are not a biking type. And if you don’t live in a walkable area then buses and trains and subways become a big way to go.
Each locations routs and information are set up different so the best is to good or call your transportation service in your area for schedules.

Some places do not allow dogs, but if you are needing to take fido to the vet or even a park, call and check with your local service. If not, an alternative is to ask a friend or call a cab or Uber. Taxi service might seem pricey but when you don’t drive a car you really save a lot so spending a little here and there isn’t really so bad.

I use buses to go to stores or for grocery farther than 3 miles from home when I need to get more than I can carry by bike. Sometimes I will take a bus there and a cab back if I did some really big shopping. I do buy by bulk which cuts down on needed cab or bus rides as well as grocery store runs that I am unable to do by bike. I do some excellent planning on such items as toiletries, toilet paper, shampoo’s, tooth paste, dish soap, laundry detergents and canned goods I only get twice a year, once every six months. This actually also benefits me by not having to think about it on every other shopping trip, forgetting items on smaller shopping trips and I can even find coupons, sales and savings to plan my trip around. Typically because of this I use a cab only twice a year as well and also only on the way home with my items while I will walk or bus to the store to begin with.

Buses really aren’t dirty and even when they go through bad neighborhoods the people are incredibly helpful and friendly. I have never had any problems by over fifteen years of subways in NYC, trains and buses and subways in Los Angeles and buses in Texas of Houston and Galveston.

The parts that I don’t like about it are the fact that I can get motion sickness on the buses (it’s the stop and go), Galveston has been the worse bus driving as well as routs, cleanliness and helpful bus drivers for me yet. As well as timing or following routs correctly. However it is also the smallest place I have lived and where I use it the least.

I don’t like waiting. I am incredibly impatient on such things. I loved being able to read on buses and subways when I used them a lot in California but the buses here make me too queasy. The buses here are also a lot smaller than most city buses and so those wire carts are impossible which are great for grocery shopping, but they usually don’t get as crowded and so bags of groceries have a lot of space at an extra seat.
Galveston has a lack of actual visible bus stops.

Even when I travel I am one who loves to walk as much as possible anywhere I am and also make use of public transportation when available.
Houston isn’t too bad and is actually a really great way to see the city. When I first moved here I went on bus rides all around town just touristy like and I ended up in some of the not so great places and smack in the middle of the best, learned how the city worked a little bit more and were some really great thrift and antique shops I found. People were always friendly and finding my way, stops and directions was pretty easy.

I do wish that Houston/Galveston would add a train. With our constant major road construction, huge city that Houston is, as wide spread as it is and how much people have to commute for work (Been there, done that) it would be incredibly helpful. Another big perk would be tying in the medical hospitals and facities, especially with so many who come from Houston to Galveston for UTMB and so many who also work in Galveston but live off island and then there are a lot of cancer patients here who travel to Houston for day treatments and it’s impossible for them to drive but often they don’t have anyone to drive with them either.

Shopping on island isn’t very vast so being able to reach malls would be really awesome and for Houstonians to not have to drive for a day trip to the beach would be great too (plus we already have parking space shortage for the beach and events on the island.) Currently there is’t even a safe and fully connecting bus rout between the island and Houston, much less a train. We also get so many cruise ship bound tourists from the airports and Houston to the island and back in a week that a train would truly be the ideal aspect. And frankly if the cruise ships and UTMB and all of the Fertitta companies can’t provide enough parking than I would expect them to begin providing better public transport. And that is only some of the big hitters on the island side.

For the airport, there are expensive shuttle options, which I have done. And our need of reaching two airports and aprox 640,000-800,000 people coming to the cruise ships every year who would ride a train. The island sees more than approximately six million visitors a year.

Galveston really needs a great public transport facility for both tourists and locals, better bus routs, a straight beach to down town and Strand and Harbor rout (though our trolley tracks are coming back, and we did get a big new parking lot called a transport service station. Hopefully that will end up actually servicing us soon) this would also help tourists who don’t understand what to do or where to go get around and see where the locals go, much of which they miss. Or they stay in one spot and do one thing.

Houston truly needs a train and investing in one for the growing hospitals, the growing traffic problems, the concomitantly growing highway, and the growing economy would really be the only way they could go. The tiny 2 mile straight down town track is a joke (it’s also all in walking distance.) All they need to do is seriously look at the already available examples done before (Los Angeles, Chicago,London, Paris…since we can’t do subway.)

Amtrack sourly misses out on a lot of Texas opportunity with very limited routs.

And for most cities public transport generates more money, rather than results in a loss. When run correctly, I would imagine (as I know the island has run very negative in the past.)

Each location is different and I’ve been lucky enough to experience may but most have a lot to learn. I will say LA was the best…many routs to alternate with when I felt like it or when a mudslide whipped out one of the roads or my experience was if a bus broke down you hopped directly off to an opposite corner and onto another bus in no time. I was never late for work nor spent too much time ahead getting there, in fact with LA traffic I far saved time.

In Houston when in a car on the freeway it’s been so terribly backed up lately between congestion and construction combined that even the little extra a bus might take is often worth it if the public transport is set up properly where you live or travel. Houston is pretty sprawled out but I will give kudo’s on a decent bus system within the city. I suggest if you dress in heels follow the example of the ladies in NYC and wear the sneakers and carry the shoes and I suggest always having a book on hand or a podcast to listen to in any and a public transport ventures. But next time you travel…hop a bus and see the city.

 

 

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