When I was ten the only thing I wanted from Santa was a can of Vienna sausages.
That probably tells you a lot about me, including that I’m weird, but you already knew that. The point of sharing this here is to show that it’s pretty easy to make me happy (at least I think it is, Andy may have other thoughts). Just give me a long conversation with a friend, lunch out, a new Oprah magazine or an upcoming trip and I’m as satisfied as a rat rolling in a bath of liverwurst.
So why bring this up? Because I had no idea how ridiculously happy it would make me to live where there is a subway/metro. Just yesterday I hopped on the Metro, which is a 10 minute walk from our apartment, took it into the city (as we call it) and got off a few blocks from the restaurant where I was meeting my friend for lunch—Wow a double happiness kind of day!
Yes, I know there are busses in Portland, and even a light rail, but having a intricate, city-wide train system that is not subject to street lights or traffic and is close to where you need to go, is a luxury we’ve only gotten to experience in places as diverse as Lisbon to London, and Berlin to Beijing.
I love metros because they are often quicker, cleaner and they just scream BIG CITY to me. I often worry about the day when I can no longer drive, and I would hate the isolation that happens when you are dependent upon a car to get anywhere. Thanks to Uber and Lyft, some communities that don’t have mass transit, have this option, but there are towns too small to support rideshares. I’ve used rideshares all over the world which are often easier than metros and subways, especially when you hauling luggage and jet lagged, but while personally useful, I have more systemic concerns.
Suicides by taxi drivers in NYC who are unable to pay off their medallions because they are competing with rideshares have been in the news, pay rates for rideshare drivers is pretty low—even though at first it seems like it’s possible to make a decent living—and a rise in auto congestion are just a few. Are we better off because it’s one driver doing a dozen rides that otherwise 12 individuals would have driven or were those 12 people who are now not on the metro? What sort of planning does a city do when metro ridership goes down or drastically changes? These are all questions that communities are asking after having Uber and Lyft on the roads for the past decade. They are also questions that I’ve been pondering on my time on the Metro as I continue to explore the DC area, sometimes searching for that elusive Vienna Sausages.