This exercise probably won’t be very enlightening to my readers in Taipei who are used to good public transportation, but for those in the US who are saddled with barely functioning public transportation systems, I’d like you to imagine a trip like the following and estimate how long it would take you using solely public transportation of the sort you have in your city.
Let’s pretend that a tomato slicer at your Subway restaurant has a broken blade and the manager needs to replace it but can’t loosen the screws, so you have to go take some tools there to help replace the blade. You leave the house, walk down to the nearest bus stop. You take a bus to the next MRT (read subway/elevated train) station and take it to the station near your restaurant. While there you remove the old blade, thoroughly clean the slicer, put in a new blade, discuss some business with the manager and wait while she puts together some paperwork and bank forms you need to take home. Include that time in your calculation. You then walk to the nearest bus stop and take a bus back home. Each way you need to travel 2.9 kilometers or 1.8 miles for total travel distance of 5.8 km or 3.6 mi.
How long does it take you from the time you walk out your front door until you walk back in the door?
I know from experience that you’d often spend a couple of hours or more making such a trip in the US. I recently read one friend’s blog recounting spending an entire work day traveling to a brief doctor’s appointment by public transportation. So what is the answer in this case? A grand total of forty four minutes total time. That’s what public transportation should look like.