This 5 part blog series is about TMACC’s Manager of Member Services, Shannon Maria Jones, navigating through the next 4 weeks car free.
The tricky part about my current commute is that in some ways, it’s unrealistic. Right now I’m riding my bike (mode one) to the train (mode two) and then getting on a bus (mode three). I have created for myself a morning respite at the Paoli Starbucks, which I must walk two blocks to get to, and that walk could be called mode four. Four modes each morning gives many opportunities for things to go wrong – delays, malfunctions, timing issues, though admittedly I have been lucky so far.
After my first day of snafus, days two and three were quite comfortable. Instead of focusing on the logistics of getting myself to each place at the right time, I had the opportunity to work at learning the etiquette and flow of the people who use mass transit.
I’ve tried to take pictures to help reinforce some of these lessons when possible:
- There are never going to be two empty seats on the Amtrak, as it starts in Harrisburg and heads to Philadelphia picking up and dropping off scores of people along the way. Don’t worry about walking yourself and all of your baggage through several cars. Find an empty seat and plop down, everyone else will be glad and other passengers getting on the train can now get by more easily.
- The bus seats reserved for the handicapped and elderly are clearly marked. The people who get priority seating in those seats are also fairly easy to spot. You CAN sit in these seats when the bus is full, just realize that you may have to abdicate your spot if someone in a wheelchair or is older comes onto the bus.
- You can eat, drink, and be merry on the train. I’ve even seen people drinking fine wine out of Styrofoam cups. You should not, however, eat or drink on the buses – so finish your coffee before boarding. There are signs to this effect and most people respect them.
- As a biker you know that cars should respect your space on the road, but realize that the onus is on you to make sure you’re easy to spot. Consider wearing bright colors or a vest and helmet so that you can be seen in a variety of conditions. Remember, unfortunately many drivers are distracted by cell phones, music, other occupants, etc.
At TMACC, we spend a lot of time speaking with our member organizations and the general public about strategies to mitigate traffic congestion, specifically the idling single occupancy vehicles (SOV) that clog our roads. Page 7 of our summer newsletter, contains five tips that you and your employer can use to avoid commute headaches. So far, I’ve tried the FlexTime and the Telecommute. Next week I try my hand at ride share!
Shannon Maria Jones is TMACC’s Manager of Member Services. She’s a resident of West Sadsbury Township, Chester County where she lives with her husband Jasen and their rescued dog, Sadie. An avid traveler, Shannon navigates public transit when overseas or in urban areas, but has rarely used public transportation as part of her daily commute. Slightly obsessed with “Super Size Me” and Morgan Spurlock’s series “30 Days” she is perhaps too excited about what this challenge will bring in terms of personal growth.
If you would like to re-publish this blog, or ask Shannon any questions about her commute please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.