Monday, November 14, 2011

Saturday in DC: A Public Transit Adventure

Anyone who knows me knows what a proponent I am of public transportation. I will gladly tell anyone who asks how thankful I am not to own a car. In the next 5-10 years I don't expect to live anywhere that requires me to own a car, and if I can get away with being car-free for longer than that, I will. My reasons for a carless life are numerous, but one of my strongest arguments in favor of an extensive and user-friendly public transit system is that it enables independence and flexibility in new and unfamiliar places. This point was proven once again on my most recent trip to Washington DC.

I arrived in DC on a Thursday in order to set up for the Society for Neuroscience's 41st annual conference. Exhibits at the conference were not scheduled to open until Sunday, and since we were finished setting up by Saturday afternoon, I was left with the rest of the day free to do as I pleased. After making plans with various friends, here was my route around the city:

  • First, I walked back to my hotel from the conference center.

    Walk 1.1 miles, ~21 minutes

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  • Then, I walked from my hotel to Union Station, where I met my friend K___ for coffee and a stroll around the city.

    Walk 0.5 miles to Union Station, ~10 minutes; ~3 miles around/across the city in ~2 hours

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  • Next, K___ put me on a bus that took me up through Georgetown, to a 50m pool I had scouted out in Tenleytown. There I swam laps in a facility nicer than almost any pool I have ever seen, and which also happens to be free to DC residents. My jealous was palpable.

    Bus ride ~40min

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  • After I finished swimming, I took the bus back to Foggy Bottom. There, I got on the Orange line and took the metro out to Arlington, VA in order to have dinner with my college friends B___ and G___.

    Bus ride, ~40 min in the opposite direction + metro ride, ~22 minutes

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  • Finally, after ample dinner, drinks and discussion, I took the metro back to my hotel.

    Metro ride orange line to Red line to Union Station + walk to hotel, ~40min

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    All in all, it was a busy but successful day. Now, imagine if I had had a car! I would have had to deal with the stress of traffic, navigating unfamiliar streets, paying for parking. Instead, I spent less than $10, got some exercise on foot, took a nice bus "tour" of Georgetown, and enjoyed reading my book on the subway. Why can't every city in America be like this?

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