Thursday, March 01, 2007

Confession and complaint

My shame-faced confession: After using public transit nearly every day last semester, I bought a parking pass for the current semester. The reasons quickly added up.

(1) The expectation that I would soon be pregnant.

(2) The expectation of winter.

(3) The combination of 1 and 2: I couldn’t imagine dealing with a dawdling preschooler when pregnant and cold. Or carrying him part of the way, as usually happens.

(4) When I did the math, my monthly pass plus his tickets, the cost was greater than a parking pass. Yes, there are the expenses for gas and wear on the car, but we drive a cheap-to-maintain, gas-efficient Toyota.* Not a Prius, but it is in the best class for emissions (something like a Super Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle).

OK, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way...

Today I was working from home. I had planned on picking Scooter up from school early, before the snow switched to ice. Then the storm blew in. Earlier than expected. Heavier than expected. Trillian and I agreed that it would be best to take the streetcar so that I could avoid driving in the muck.

I dutifully wrapped up and headed out into the cold. The snow had already piled up in some places. The wind was sweeping up my pant legs. I had to shield my eyes with one hand so that I could see even a little bit.

At the streetcar stop, there were several people already there. As we waited, even more gathered. After 20 minutes, no streetcar had come from either direction. And it looked like one hadn’t been by for some time before that—the tracks were full of snow. I decided to head back and drive after all. It took me about 45 minutes to drive to Scooter’s daycare (usually a 20-25 minute drive). And then 80 minutes to get home (because we were driving towards a highway that was practically stopped).

But I’m not going to complain about the time. I consider myself lucky that we made it home safely. And Scooter was a real trooper the whole way home.

Here’s what got to me. I waited at least 25-30 minutes at the streetcar stop. I was lucky enough to have an alternate to get where I needed to this afternoon, even if it wasn’t ideal. As I crossed the street to go get my keys and car, another person said he’d just heard that streetcars weren’t running on our part of the line due to frozen track a few stops up. He was in no way associated with the TTC; I think he had walked down from the nearest functioning stop up the line. Otherwise everyone at the stop would have had no information at all. And there doesn’t seem to be any method in place to get this sort of information to stranded passengers. Seems like a gaping hole to me.

Which reminded me of a fifth reason I decided to go with a parking pass this semester. I was tired of the frequent delays and detours our regular route entailed. Not a problem when by myself in decent weather—it’s a fairly easy, if somewhat long, walk home—but basically impossible when I had Scooter with me. So, for the time being, I guess I’ll be sticking with the car.

* Given the current gas shortage in the area, I smirk every time I drive past the Hummer in our parking garage.


metro mama said...

People really want to use the "better way" but the better way needs to do better. Much better.

Lisa b said...

I have much the same experience. Taking transit was great before I had a child but now it is the occasions like this, or expectation of them, that have me reaching for the car keys. Its too bad.
I am really ashamed of how much more I drive in the city now but I have come home one too many times to find the elevator at my station not working. I at least can have people help me carry the stroller but people in wheelchairs have no other options.