Tag Archives: public transport

Civilized Travel

I’m so jealous.

I’m writing this in the absolutely magnificent St. Pancris station in London, using the free, fast wifi while waiting for the Eurostar to depart for Paris.

I may be jinxing us by saying this, but so far we’ve found travel far more efficient than our experiences at home led us to expect.

We’ve flown Baltic Air twice and Ryan Air once–each time leaving promptly on time, with a minimum of fuss. No removing our shoes, no “getting intimate” with security personnel. No boarding by row numbers. (In the case of Ryan Air, no assigned seats.)

We flew from Dublin to Birmingham, and took the train directly from the airport to London’s Euston Station. The train was high speed; we were served breakfast, and there was free wifi. Businesspeople plugged in their laptops and worked, and there was no clickety-clack to disturb them–it was smooth continous rail. When we arrived in London, we walked three blocks to St. Pancreas, which, in addition to being beautifully renovated, is immaculate and inviting. The rest of our trip to Berlin will also be by rail.

Trains here are modern and clean. Electronic signs on the platforms tell how many minutes until the next arrivals; similar signs are at bus stops. (We have access to the technology, but to my knowledge it isn’t being used by IndyGo. It would be helpful in Indianapolis, since unlike the five-minute headways here, our buses run every forty minutes or so, and are frequently late.)

It’s so civilized to travel on a dependable, integrated transportation system. We could have such a system, if we had the political will.

Instead, we aren’t even repairing our bridges.

Last Day in Dublin

We had scheduled a train excursion to Waterford and a couple of other spots in the Irish countryside, but it was cancelled for lack of other participants (apparently we were the only people who’d signed up), so we spent most of the day walking around Dublin.

The area around our hotel is fairly posh, but a few block away, things changed. While the amount of retailing remained astonishing, the quality of goods on display–and seemingly all being offered at 50-60% off–was somewhere between poor and shoddy. While we had remarked on a lack of diversity around the hotel, there was much more in the poorer precincts, leading us to form an impression that ‘people of color’ are probably disproportionately poorer here, as at home.

We walked through and around Trinity College, where students could be identified by their traditional black robes (now polyester–I wonder what they used to be). The campus is very old and impressive, but there is a lot of deferred maintenance visible.

We were struck by what appears to be a really first-rate public transportation system. Buses, rail, taxis are everywhere. And we were jealous of the impressive bike-share program; the distinctive blue bikes can be checked out through a kiosk, which unlocks the bike from it’s stand. No attendant needed. From casual observation, the program seemed very popular–we saw lots of folks checking them out and returning them.

People are not as thin as in Vilnius, but still far, far from as obese as we are in Indiana.

Tomorrow is a long travel day–we need to leave our hotel at four in the morning, and then it is air and rail with several changes until we reach Berlin.