Saturday, May 18, 2013

Sustainable Saturday - Sustainable Travel

How do Americans get to work? It would be no surprise to most if I told you it was by car, driving alone.  However, in New York, some 28% of people take mass transit - buses or trains.  When I lived in New York City, I took a bus to college, and took subways to summer jobs and to get to Manhattan.  In my childhood, a car ride (my parents did not own a car, which was not uncommon in New York City back in the 1950's and 1960's) was a luxury.  I learned to walk and use mass transit, and walking has remained an important part of my life. (Full disclosure, I take the bus to my job in downtown Binghamton, New York).

In a sustainable lifestyle, we want to use the most efficient/safe mode of transportation, whenever possible, as far as "miles per gallon" of fuel-including food, for human-powered transportation.  As it happens, the most efficient use of fuel is made by riding a bicycle. 

Those who believe in sustainable living do think about their driving, and many do try to use more ecology-friendly modes of transportation.  In most parts of the United States, though, it is very difficult (if not impossible) to live without a car.

This may eventually change - people of my son's generation drive less than my generation.

Although most ecology-friendly modes of transport are safer than car travel, accidents do happen, sometimes with disastrous results.  There are many debates about the safest mode of transportation, but it may well be taking the bus. (The same website states that motorcycle transport is the most dangerous.)  When trains crash though, you have hundreds of passengers involved.

Which is what happened yesterday when two commuter trains, one coming from New York City and and one traveling to New York City, wrecked in Connecticut during the evening rush hour.  One train derailed, swung to the left, and swiped the other train.  Between the two trains there were about 700 people on board.  Miraculously, no one was killed, but 72 people were hospitalized, 2 still in critical condition tonight.  The tracks were damaged, too, and there is no alternate way to get these Connecticut commuters to New York City.

They could drive, which is not something anyone wants to do in midtown Manhattan on a weekday (even if you had a place to park, which is unlikely.)

Train travel from New York to Boston is suspended, possibly for the next 10 days.

And, in one more twist of modern life - I did not hear about this crash until today, because I was watching network TV last night.  If I had been on my computer, I would have learned about it from Twitter, with crash survivors tweeting from the scene.

Do you have access to mass transit?  Or, are you able to walk or bicycle where you live?  Or, do you have to totally depend on your car?


  1. Living outside of Los Angeles, our mass transit options are woefully limited. Here, you almost have to have a car as most of us do not have school or work close enough to walk or bicycle. Trains only go to certain places, so unless you want to go train to bus to some other mode of transportation for your daily commute, the car it is. When I visited DC a year or so ago, I actually had a blast finding my way around on the Metro. Although I can't see myself relying on mass transit all the time, it is definitely a fun way to get around in a city you're not familiar with.

  2. We have several bus routes going right by our home. When I worked in the nearby town, I took the bus. Ever reliable. I've never driven. Although my husband drove back then, he worked at night so he wasn't available. To get into London, I could take a train, which can arrive in 20 mins.

  3. We have bus transit here but the schedules are too unforgiving to even attempt using the transportation. :)

    I'll walk if I can, but otherwise we normally drive the truck where ever we need to go!


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