I Heart NY Part 2: Public Transportation

I love not having--and not needing--a car. Because I grew up in the suburbs, where getting a carton of milk requires hopping in the car, this seems like a luxury to me. For most of the world, living where you can walk to everything seems to be pretty standard. But here in the U.S., a country largely built to the grand scale of the automobile, it's definitely not the norm and good public transportation is unfortunately rare.

To begin with, living car-free saves us about $400/month. Second, there are no car repairs, no maintenence, and nothing to break down or shovel out of the snow. Third, Mr. O'Kitten hates to drive and doesn't even like riding in the car--he really is a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker in this regard. I myself prefer not to drive, given the choice, and am delighted to take bus or subway or walk instead.

The bus.

And think about this: "The MTA is one of the nation's most effective sustainability programs, transporting [our] riders on more than 8.5 million trips daily with twice the energy efficiency of the most advanced hybrid cars.

"Thanks in large part to the MTA, the energy consumption and CO2 output of New Yorkers is approximately a quarter of the national average. If the rest of the country matched New York City's carbon footprint, the nation could achieve the goal of cutting carbon 80 percent by 2050, more than 40 years ahead of schedule."

This is where we get the subway: the Myrtle-Wycoff Station. It's about a 15-minute bus ride or a half-hour walk from our apartment. The bus stops right on our block, so it's really convenient. We get on the subway, and twenty minutes later we're in Manhattan.

When I first moved to New York in 1990, the L train was one of the least trustworthy trains--but also the closest to my apartment. It was so unreliable that I almost never rode it. Now it's the closest line to us and was ranked the best according to the Straphangers 2008 report card.

It has the newest cars in the fleet and they are pretty spiffy.

The L stations also have train arrival times posted on LED displays. I haven't seen these on any other lines yet.

Fourteenth Street/Union Square is our regular stop in Manhattan. It still looks pretty much like this.

This historic postcard of the 28th Street and 4th Avenue Station shows a kiosk almost identical to the one at the Astor Place Station (below).

Astor Place. We often pass here since it's just a few blocks south of Fourteenth Street. The building behind the kiosk at the left is part of Cooper Union.

Even better is not needing any public transportation at all. I walk to work about 90% of the time, unless it's really pouring or I'm coming home late in the evening, in which case I take the bus. Rain or shine, even if it's cold or snowing, I love to walk. Within a block of our apartment there's a grocery, barbershop, butchershop, laundrymat, bank, discount store, nail salon, pizzeria, hardware store, and pharmacy, and most any place (including the grocery and pharmacy) will deliver. Perhaps that explains why so many elderly people still live in our neighborhood: everything is within reach and if you can't get to it, they'll bring it to you.

Gotta love New York.


Mouse said...

OMG.. I f--ing hate cars and driving. People here in the 'burbs of Atlanta have NO idea what its like to not need or want a car.. they can't imagine NOT driving. I would LOVE to live in NYC and be able to walk & ride everywhere. Also.. rollerskates! hee hee.

meemsnyc said...

We love public transportation!!! Go NY!!

Chris said...

That's what I love about my neighborhood - I can walk to 3 grocery stores and a co-op, 4 Thai restaurants, innumerable bars and non-Thai restaurants and coffeeshops, 2 good used bookstores, a new/used cd store, 5 movie screens, a bowling alley, a library, and more.

thursday said...

I moved to Chicago last August (from Tucson, AZ), and the public transportation is a lot better here. The west is very non-public transit friendly. I used to walk as much as possible there, but not to the store. Unfortunately, it takes 1 hour to get downtown from our house (still in the city) on the El. Only 18 minutes on the metra though (which I do like). Of course, now that I have a little goober to bring with me... not so convenient!