San Francisco is different though. Public transit is used by everyone - from homeless to millionaires. People use it to get to work, to go grocery shopping, to get to events, and to go to church. Many who live in San Francisco don't even own a car. Public transit provides an exploration of all of my personal issues: claustrophobic, haphephobic, and mazeophobic (look 'em up - trying to increase your Google-eese) germophobic (I almost made you look this one up, but the technical term is spermophobia - so I didn't want to disturb anyone). Here are just a few of the things we have seen in our very limited experience in San Francisco's public transportatin system:
- A woman sneezed on my face...like, I felt the spray. And here's what's weirder - I didn't do anything. I just froze.
- I got called "babycakes." Who says that?
- Someone tried to sit on my lap
- Marc and I helped a homeless mother of a child with autism find her way back to her mission/halfway house.
- On the way back from a Giants game, Marc and I almost witnessed a fight between two slightly inebriated guys. One of them insulted the other's girlfriend.
- Someone asked me if I could email him my Pandora station.
- I have sat in someone's lap (on accident - the bus started going really quickly).
- I've missed my stop, our bus driver has driven past a scheduled stop. I don't think Marc has missed his stop - at least, if he has, he hasn't confessed.
- While riding a cable car I spent 15 minutes trapped seated at eye level in front of a man with his fly wide open.
- We have had doozies of taxi drivers: one waxed eloquent on the virtues of Rush Limbaugh, one told us all the reasons why he would only marry virgins (yelling all of his insights over very loud Kenyan music), and one screamed a phone conversation in another language for a 25 minute cab ride
There are many options available for those who wish to use San Francisco's public transit system. I will highlight all the major ones.
Your Own Two Feet
BART: Bay Area Rapid Transit
MUNI: The Bus
Cable Cars: The San Francisco Treat...oh wait.
Of course one can take a taxi or car service to get where they need to go. Marc usually takes a taxi or car service from our home when he needs to get to the airport because there is not a BART station near our neighborhood. The taxis aren't too bad, and you do save a hassle of having to find the route yourself - for a higher price.
There are a lot of resources that make navigating public transit much easier:
-- www.transit.511.org - This is a great website for planning your trip across the city. You select where you want to go and at what time, and then the site gives you the type of transit, the number of your route, where to get on and off, and what time you should arrive at your destination. We've used this a lot when we are going to a part of the city we're unfamiliar with.
-- www.nextmuni.com - As I've already said, this is a great resource if you already know which bus you need to catch. You just select your bus and the stop you're at and it will tell you how long you have to wait until your bus arrives.
-- www.maps.google.com - A seemingly obvious choice. On Google Maps you can search for where you want to go or enter in two addresses and then choose the "transit" tab and it will do basically the same as TripPlanner. I use this app on my Blackberry all the time when I'm walking around the city, because then I can look at the map, find where I am and where I want to be, and decide if it's too far to walk.
We're enjoying learning our way around the city and try to take public transit whenever we can. We took a bus to church this past Sunday and it worked out just fine. We do have a car - but it is a huge inconvenience to find parking in most places in the city, and you also run the risk of a break-in, accident, or parking ticket. We have only really used our car for when we have left the city or gone shopping where we knew we would need trunk space. I'm sure there are many adventures to come as we navigate around the city!