You can’t get there from here….

We just got a good lesson in public transportation and are very thankful to be back home in a city where anyone can pretty much go anywhere for minimal cost.
We’ve been in Panama City FL to move the sailboat out of one marina and into another (long story). The distance between the two points is roughly 8-10 minutes by car and about 45 minutes on the water. Think of moving the boat down the river from, say, Audubon Park to Chalmette (if there was no current to push you along).

WHY, then, did it take TWO HOURS to get back? Simple — three phone calls to two different cab companies produced no cab, then the trolley system took a roundabout route though some back streets. We could easily have walked this distance in less than half the time. But nooooooooooo — I wanted to see how the system “worked.” It doesn’t.

I will never, ever, ever again gripe about an RTA bus that pulls out in front of me, about some RTA car blocking the street or about a streetcar moving too slowly for my particular mood. Despite some shortcomings, they are reminders we can fairly consistently move from Point A to Point B in this town.

7 Comments so far

  1. e (unregistered) on July 19th, 2005 @ 5:49 am

    amen! be thankful you HAVE a system.

  2. Mike Hoffman (unregistered) on July 19th, 2005 @ 2:17 pm

    I’m thankful for what I have but have you ever tried getting to Lakeside Mall and back from downtown, or anywhere on a regular basis using the public bus system? Can you personally compare it to a city where the public transportation is raved about?

    The “It could always be worse.” stance doesn’t hold much water. It looks to be a bad excuse for lack of improvement.

    Doesn’t the “This is how we’ve improved and this is what we’re doing to improve in the future.” stance seem a little more respectable?

  3. Aaron (unregistered) on July 20th, 2005 @ 12:29 pm

    I agree with Mike, New Orleans public transportation still sucks, no matter how many other public transportation systems are worse than ours. I’ve been to Paris, Berlin, D.C., Lyon, and their transportation systems are AWESOME. You are allowed to go within half a mile of anywhere in the cities, quickly, and cheaply. A good public transportation system is quick, safe, and cheaper than taking your car. New Orleans arguably doesn’t have any of those attributes for the majority of it’s public transportation. This is coming from someone who used to have to take the bus home sitting next to the Forsche kids, so I personally know about SAFETY.

  4. Craig (unregistered) on July 20th, 2005 @ 1:43 pm

    I agree with both of you, in that there’s plenty that can be done to improve what we have here in New Orleans. Having experienced the public transportation in DC, Paris, London and New York, I easily see how much better things can be here.

    However, given what I experienced in Panama City, I’ll gladly take the New Orleans system with all its various flaws.

  5. Jack Ware (unregistered) on July 20th, 2005 @ 3:29 pm

    This all makes me wonder what the major issues with the RTA is? How could it be safer? It seems that if it were safer then more people would use it so it would be cheaper (economy of scale) and the additional revenue would allow the system to expand. This city would benefit greatly from an awesome public transit system; not only the locals, but the tourist market as well.

    But the city, itself isn’t safe so maybe I’m off here because I’m trying to figure out how to peel a banana when it’s still way up in the tree.

  6. sacclay (unregistered) on July 20th, 2005 @ 3:56 pm

    major issues about RTA? well how many of you who read this site would actually wait in the heat to ride a bus that takes forever with a bunch of elderly and/or minorities and/or lower income and/or kids from First and Freret who are next in line on the “bought to get blasted next time I see that fool” list.

    those other cities that you mentioned actually nurture their public transportation systems and market them and those systems are seen as viable and reliable transportation alternatives. one great city you negelected to mention that I have first hand experience with is the Bay Area and San Francisco, they have it all subway, buses, and trolleys and they work great! the only thing in this city that is reliable is the streetcar…until your standing on St Charles at 9pm looking up the track for an hour wondering why they dont run enough cars at nite.

    citybuses have a stigma attached to them in MOST cities that will never allow them to honestly be considered by anyone other than the car-less. and i’m not being a boob, i’m just being honest. who the hell WANTS to ride a city bus in freakin New Orleans.

  7. Craig (unregistered) on July 20th, 2005 @ 4:55 pm

    I’ve wanted to ride the BART in SF, but have not been there since it was built. I also want to ride the DART in Dallas, which looks nice but I’m not sure how many places it goes that I’d want to go. I’ve been on the MARTA in Atlanta and it’s okay, but could go more places than it does.

    As far as city buses go, sacclay kinda hit that nail on the head for MOST cities.

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