Monday, November 1, 2010

What Worked and What Didn't, Part 2

Last week I wrapped up my one month of voluntary carlessness, and I wrote about what alternative means of getting around worked best, including combining biking with RideOn and running.  But like anything, where some parts worked really well, other parts did not:  they may have gotten me where I needed to go, but it either took too long, was too uncomfortable, or was too expensive.

What Didn't Work

The Q Line

Metro recently "improved" their Q line bus, which runs from Silver Spring to Shady Grove, and also stops at Wheaton and Rockville stations.  By "improving" the line, they added the Q4 and Q6 to the already existing Q2.  The Q2 makes the entire length of the trip; the Q4 starts at Silver Spring and turns around at Rockville; the Q6 starts at Shady Grove and turns around at Wheaton - sort of like Metro's Red Line trains that turn around early at Grosvenor station at peak times instead of going all the way to Shady Grove, so that more trains are serving the central parts of the line.  

While no factor alone was a "dealbreaker" for me taking this route, the perfect storm of discomfort, time, lack of exercise, and cost (read: it isn't free) put this method of getting to the office very low on my list of possibilities.  First, the bus is always packed:  even getting on at the stop at Georgia Avenue and Spring Street, the second stop on the Q4 line, meant that I had to go without a seat - that many people get on at its first stop at Wayne and Dixon.  (I was always assured a seat on the RideOn bus.)  The line makes SO many stops that the bus is stopping at practically every block leaving downtown Silver Spring to the intersection of Veirs Mill and Randolph Road.  It takes about 50-55 mintues to get from Silver Spring to Rockville, and that's without any exercise.  Combining a bike or run with a RideOn Route may take 20-30 minutes longer to make the same trip, but at least I get some cardio in.  Finally, since County employees are fortunate enough to enjoy free RideOn service but not Metro bus, taking the Q line costs $1.50 more than does taking a RideOn bus.


Especially when getting from Jon's apartment in Van Ness, Metro certainly had its advantages.  I could take the Red Line to Rockville and walk to my office in about 25 minutes, which allowed me to sleep in much longer than if I rode my bike or ran across the District line to where I could pick up a RideOn bus.  But the dealbreaker here, and for me it was quite a dealbreaker, was that this method cost $4.40 one way and close to nine dollars if I planned to go back the same way.  Way too expensive to use on a regular basis.

And for their part, I realize that Metro set a ridership record this past weekend for the Rally to Restore Sanity.  But I don't think that any of my visiting friends would categorize their metro experience as positive when we took it down to the Mall on Saturday.

When I reviewed the alternative means of getting around without a car, the common theme between by favorite methods was that they included exercise.  Conversely, the common theme between my least favorite means of getting around was that they did not include any exercise.  I always knew that the "Fitness Factor" would be an important part of this endeavor, but after a month now I see just how important it actually was to me.

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