I recently relocated to the Washington, DC metro from Des Moines, IA. Coming from a mostly car-centric environment, I was excited to explore the various public transit options available in the area. I'm temporarily staying with a friend near Baltimore, so have made frequent use of Metro and the MARC system. On the whole, my experience has been incredibly positive, with no problems getting to where I need to be. However, on Tuesday, August 24th, I was lucky enough to enjoy an hour and a half delay on the MARC train heading toward Union Station.
What should normally be a 1.5 hour trip to the office ended up at just over 3 hours thanks to a loss of voltage along the entire Eastern-Corridor of Amtrak, making me an hour late for my 2nd day at Arlington Transportation Partners. As we sat idle on the tracks for an hour and a half, my first thought was to fondly recall the quick 10-minute commute I'd had in Des Moines. How could I have given that up? Over the course of the next hour, however, my attitude shifted - and I became thankful that I was on a train instead of stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic in a car. On the train I could read, catch up on email, work on a crossword puzzle, etc. I was able to take advantage of the extra time.
Also, and interesting sense of camraderie develops when 100 strangers are trapped in a metal box for a period of time. New friends were made, light networking was accomplished, and overall, most people managed to keep a sense of humor about things (multiple jokes about the abundance of free water and lack of bathrooms). For all the benefits of public transit, it has taken me only a few days to learn that the system isn't perfect. There will be hiccups, trains will break down, be delayed, etc. But, I can already sense that I'd much rather deal with the occasional stalled train than a flat tire, or a dead battery in the middle of winter.
Brett Jones is a Business Development Manager at Arlington Transportation Partners.