Trains, subways and streetcars are the most optimal methods of mass transportation. Given adequate investment, rail-based travel could be a viable alternative to air travel (see Andrew Posner's recent post for more details). Recently, instead of flying Allison Rogers decided to try taking the train from Washington DC to Providence, Rhode Island. Here is her account of the trip:
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
8:00 PM-ish: Pack bags for Thanksgiving trip home to Providence.
8:45 PM: Brush teeth in preparation for my overnight "sleep" on the metro. Pack toothbrush and toothpaste.
9:03 PM: Leave my house, walk 1.5 blocks to the metro.
9:09 PM: Arrive at metro station. Get worried that the next metro train isn't coming for another 20 minutes, according to the metro display sign. Get distracted in a conversation with a gentleman who works for the Metro at the station, who asked me about my recycled seatbelt bag and whether they sold the bag in Las Vegas because he thought he saw it there. Tells me about the great hotels and great discounts he got in Vegas. Somehow get on the topic of becoming a travel agent and saving money at hotels.
9:15 PM: See the metro is coming in 1 minute (much earlier than the sign had said), sprint down the stairs to catch the metro, with new found knowledge about hotels in Vegas and how to become a travel agent. Just in case the green thing doesn't work out ... :)
9:16 PM: Catch the green line. Bump into a woman, Brenda, I had met the night before (at a different time on the metro!), who I had set with and talked with. We laugh at the coincidence of us being on the same metro on the same car at a different time two nights in a row. Get into discussing the holidays, discover we both have a twin (she has a twin sister and I have a twin brother), talk about her grandkids, the holidays, modeling, Dream Girls, how she used to wear her hair like Dianna Ross when she was younger, and the store she works at. Crazy how public transportation connects us with new friends!
9:22 PM: Arrive at Gallery Place, get off to switch to the red line. See the next metro is coming in 12 minutes, get a little nervous about cutting it close, wishing the metro would come sooner than that. See hoards of people coming from some sports game crowding the metro station.
9:36 PM: Get on the red line.
9:39 PM: Arrive at Union Station, travel up the escalators.
9:41 PM: Glad I bought the ticket in advance and that it prints so easily and quickly at the self-service kiosk.
9:45 PM: Relieved I have 15 minutes left to spare. Decide to forego the fact I brushed my teeth already and buy some Swedish fish and cranberry juice before hopping on the train, "just in case".
9:50 PM: Get on the train. Immediately bump into a high school friend of mine, Courtney, in the first car! Unfortunately the seats are too crowded there, so I have to move up a few cars to find a seat.
10:00 PM: Train takes off -- glad that the woman I am sitting next to is getting off at the first stop in 15 minutes. Think I've lucked out because I can take her window seat!
10:20 PM: First woman gets off, I take over my window seat. A few minutes later, a mother along WITH her two babies below the age of 3 takes the seat next to me. Get a little worried she will have to be there the whole way up to Providence. Offer to stand to let her take my seat to have more room, but she refuses. The woman finds another seat to move to at the next stop, when two seats next to each other open up.
10:22 PM: Another passenger takes her spot.
10:35 PM: Finish my last Swedish fish already.
10:36 PM: See a man pass by with a box of snacks and wine coming from the concession car. Consider going for some wine ... this might be a long night if it will be so packed the whole way.
10:37 PM: Call Stacy, one of my best girlfriends working the night shift at her hospital, who had called earlier when I was buying the juice and candy. Try to talk quietly in case anyone else wants to go to sleep this early.
10:38 PM: Lights go off in the car. Still an overhead light so it's not completely dark throughout the night.
11:28 PM: Get off the phone with Stacy. Lots of people talking throughout the car.
11:36 PM: Wilmington, Delaware stop. Notice all the lights in the Chase office building are on -- wonder who is there at that hour, or whether they are just left on overnight.
11:45 PM: Wonder who took off their shoes because you can definitely smell some feet.
11:50 PM: Woman with the two babies comes back looking for her pink hat for her baby.
12:01 AM: Pick up the phone, my boyfriend calling from India. Try to talk even more quietly, but other people are talking and laughing in the car, so I hope it's okay to talk. High school friend stops by to say hi.
12:24 AM: Hang up the phone.
??? : Fall asleep at some point -- not sure when. Somewhere in between the gray-haired woman next to me scurries off to another seat (presumably to get two seats to herself?). Go back to sleep.
2 AM: Laughter and giggles on the train coming from a few places -- I'm not sure exactly what time. Go in and out of sleeping. Glad I brought my shawl to use as a pillow and a small pillow too, that I don't even use. Consider brushing my teeth, but fall back asleep knowing my dentist won't be happy.
4:44 AM: Notice a new woman has taken the seat next to me, not sure when she arrived. Sitting at New Haven stop for 10 minutes, cool air coming in the door.
4:55 AM: Finally depart from New Haven station. Lights come back on in the train. Finish my cranberry juice. Go back to sleep.
6 AM: Wake up worried I will miss my stop. Go back to sleep.
6:40 AM: Wake up again.
6:55 AM: Conductor announces the Providence stop in a few minutes.
7:00 AM: Try to wake up woman next to me. She won't wake up. Decide to put my two bags over her into the aisle. Straddle her to climb over her into the aisle, hoping she doesn't wake up right then.
7:04 AM: Arrive in Providence!!!!!
7:30 AM: Go back to sleep at my parent's home, in a nice warm comfortable bed. Glad that I took the train, but also very glad I can sleep for several more hours in a bed.