During the past two days I have been a fearless rider of the public transit system here in Vienna, despite my not knowing where anything is and my inability to speak and read German. Since I don’t have any other options, I might as well dive in. Plus the good people at Webster Vienna have been very helpful.
I recalled, however, some other trips I’ve taken, and I’m beginning to think that somewhere internally I am a public transit user. And I’m not surprised. Every time I leave town, just about, I find my way around wherever I am by using public transit. Oh, I know using public transit isn’t shocking; so many people use mass transit systems daily that perhaps you are wondering why I’m even intrigued by this.
But I’m writing this because not only do I not use public transportation in St. Louis, I’m a bit uneasy when I do use it. Well, let me back peddle a little. I will use the Metrolink light rail system. I don’t use it regularly, but I do use it without any qualms. I think if there were stops closer to where I live and where I go, I would probably use it more.
What gives me anxiety is using the bus system in St. Louis. If I were so inclined I could take a bus to the Metrolink and then to my destination if the Metrolinnk didn’t serve a nearby stop. I could, but I don’t. Something about getting on the bus really makes me nervous, and I’m not certain what.
Sure, I could list some differences – the U-Bahn system in Vienna seems easy enough to use (at least in my limited interaction with it). Lines are clearly marked, depots are easy to find, stations are clearly announced prior to arrival, and boarding is a breeze. The weekly pass is very affordable, and I hear the monthly and yearly passes are even more cost-effective.
But I could also list similarities, with affordability being the main one. Let me give you some context. I think the fare for St. Louis’ Metrolink and Metro buses is high. One of the reasons I don’t ride the Metrolink more often is that I could pay less in gas and/or parking to get to my destination. If I’m trying to get somewhere with my husband and children, driving is simply a more cost-effective means of transportation. But by affordability I mean that Webster University, like some other institutions in St. Louis, provides Metro passes for campus community members. I could ride the Metrolink and Metro buses all day if I wanted to, without incurring any extra cost.
And now I’m back to my initial question: What is the difference? Does the answer rest with my circumstances or does it reside within me? While I’m certain the answer lies within me, I still have to wonder how and what circumstances factor into my not using public transit at home. Stigma? Safety? Accessibility? Ease of use?
I won’t figure this out today, although I will continue to ponder it. Meanwhile, U1, U2, and route 92A will find me aboard bright and early tomorrow morning.