The twin cities do not have a mass transit culture like Chicago or NYC have. We have a bus system, but most people who use it either don’t have a car or work downtown and don’t want to pay for parking. We used to have streetcars, but the cities took them out in the 60s. My parents talk about taking the streetcars when they were kids and through high school But they also talk about the ice wagons, so…
Anyway, a few years ago (maybe 5? 7? I don’t remember), they opened a light rail line between downtown Minneapolis and the airport/Mall of America. I’ve never used it. But this summer, they opened a new line between the two downtowns. It goes right through campus, and there’s a station about a 10 minute walk from my new place. But I still haven’t used it.
Why yesterday? Well, the MN Vikings are without a stadium right now while they rebuild theirs. And so they’re playing on campus for two years. No biggie, as I’m not usually at work on a Sunday. But they had a pre-season game last night at 7, and I knew traffic would be hell trying to get off campus after work. So I thought I’d take the train.
My friend SP doesn’t have a car and works downtown, so she is a mass transit expert. I made her kinda walk me through where to buy the tickets, etc. Which she was more than willing to do. So I felt like I knew what I was doing, even though it’s really not that complicated and I probably could have figured it out.
So I walked to the station – took about 10 minutes. I just missed one train, so I had to wait 10 minutes for the next. Poor timing on my part. Well, not poor timing – I just left later than I had planned on. When I got on the train, it was pretty empty. But it quickly filled, and by the time we got to campus, it was about 2/3 full. The ride took about 20 minutes. (Actually 23 minutes, if you’re curious.) I then had about a 10 minute (not even) walk to get to my office.
Here’s my big debate now: do I give up my parking contract and just take the train to/from work?
Cheaper. About $35 less per paycheck.
Use way less gas each month.
Less wear and tear on my car which means less maintenance.
No traffic issues ever.
Pretty relaxing ride – very air-conditioned! And the stations have heat (in the winter).
More green – doing my part to help the environment.
Less flexibility – can’t just leave and run somewhere after work.
Having to walk probably 15 minutes each way in whatever kind of weather we’re having. (Right now, my parking contract is in a garage that’s connected to my building by tunnels.)
Yep, can’t decide. I’ll probably try it a few more times, maybe in some icky weather, just to see how it feels. But if you have any opinions on it, let me know!