March 3, 2008

Saving the World

When I think of cities with good public transportation, I think of New York City or Washington D.C. or London or Paris. (I bet when you think of public transportation, you think "this is going to be a snooze of a blog entry").

It turns out that Austin has a pretty sweet public transit system itself, with over 3000 bus stops in Austin and the outlying areas.

Better yet, it's free for UT students (just a quick swipe of your ID card and you're allowed to ride any bus anywhere you want). I've started taking the bus to school almost every day and it's just fantastic. It takes me a bit longer to get to school, true, but it's free and I can study or read for fun during the trip.

The only downside is that the website isn't so good at helping you plan a trip. It needs specific intersections and it often fails to find the best route.

But, fortunately, as often happens in my life, there is Google to the rescue! Google Maps has this excellent system where you can put in your beginning point and end destination and then you can choose to see your options for taking public transit to make the journey instead. You can put in the time you want to depart or arrive and it will show you several options, listing the time each will take and also the distances you might need to walk.

My favorite feature, however, is the part where it tells you the cost of taking transportation versus the cost of driving it by car. The trip from the closest bus stop to UT is estimated at around six dollars each way. The cost of taking the bus? Fifty cents. Wait, for me? A student? Free. Have I mentioned a time or a bazillion how much I love free?

Makes me feel good to be saving money, reducing congestion, saving our car from the wear and tear of driving to and from school twice or three times a week, and saving the environment.

Wow, between this and switching to 100% renewable/pollution-free energy, I'm becoming a regular tree-hugging hippie.

And I like it.

12 comments:

  1. That's awesome. I love public transport. I fell in love with it in London. I love being able to read while traveling--doing two things at once is awesome. Seattle also has a really extensive bus system, if you ever go there on a trip. How's school?

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  2. Hooray for free! I didn't know Google Maps could do all of that! My only problem with public transportation is all the freaks who always find me when I am traveling solo.

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  3. I am definitely a fan of public transport as well! I'd so rather add some time onto the commute but get to be productive and not pay attention to the road. I did not know about that feature of Google maps, though. Very handy.

    The best trick I found was just asking the bus drivers. They're pretty handy at giving route tips and have even been known to radio to each other or wave other buses down to make sure they wait for me to get on when I'm transferring.

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  4. That's awesome. I'm all for free but I'm even more gung-ho for the environmental benefits. Green power is the one thing that I am willing to pay for, even if other power sources are cheaper. Please share what company you found that was cheaper than the dirty ones.

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  5. Good thing to know about Google!

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  6. Ryan was in Austin on Business last week and commented how efficient the freeways are. Seems like a good place to get from point A to point B.

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  7. Gotta love free! Especially with the price of gas these days. I took the bus to and from school much of the time when I was in college and it was a great alternative to driving for me - lots of time to read and people watch.

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  8. I love public transport....& I too get FREE bus transport as a UAA student. BUT(and this is a very big BUT) I live 48miles from campus & can't use the bus to get there....major bummer! However I am in total agreement....I LOVE FREE!

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  9. The bus here is pretty bad, thank goodness for Metro! I am jealous you get to ride for FREEEEEEEE!

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  10. Free stuff is always great! I wish I could ride the bus to school for free instead of wasting so much gas by driving my own car.

    Oh, and by the way, I made your coconut chicken recipe last night. It had a good flavor, unfortunately it was extremely spicy. I couldn't find canned whole jalepenos, so I used a very small can of diced that looked like it was equal to two whole chiles. Maybe it was too much... how big are the chiles you used? And how much sauce do you put over your chicken and rice?

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  11. Glad my glossary serves some purpose besides embarrassing me. :)

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  12. I do miss great public transportation! I'm hoping to either walk or bus to school next year. We'll see how it works out.

    And that is so neat about google.

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