American Nomad Blog
About this blog
American Nomad covers the best of U.S. travel—from vacation deals to festivals, weekend getaways, travel tips, and more. A seasoned traveler and Moon author, Laura is the perfect guide to help discover new gems when traveling domestically.
- A Southern Girl's Wintertime Adventure in Yellowstone
- One Novelist's Odyssey Across America
- Gearing up for a Family Camping Trip
- Mint Juleps and More at Oak Alley Plantation
- Avoiding Identity Theft While on Vacation
- Money-Saving Travel Tips from Nomadic Matt
- Fashion, Fun, and Convenience for the Modern Traveler
- In Search of Irish Museums Across America
- The Inspiring Journey of a Solo Kayaker
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 2
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 1
- Experiencing Yosemite with YExplore
- Two Travel Contests Worth Mentioning
- A Word About the TSA's No-No List
- A Reader's Advice About Airport Security
The Joys of Public Transportation
In recent weeks, my fellow Moon author and blogger Wayne Bernhardson has been blogging about public transit in Buenos Aires, and inevitably, his posts have gotten me thinking about public transit elsewhere. When Dan and I lived in southern England, for instance, one aspect that we greatly appreciated was the public transportation system – between the numerous buses and widespread trains, it was fairly easy for us to reach Reading, London, Oxford, and other worthy destinations from where we lived in Henley-on-Thames. Luckily, though, England doesn't have a monopoly on decent public transportation systems – several U.S. cities also make it fairly convenient to traverse their neighborhoods without a car.
Chicago, where Dan and I also once lived, has one of the country's best public transit systems, as I've mentioned in a previous post about the Windy City. During the six years that I lived there – which included my college years at Northwestern University in Evanston, a northern suburb of Chicago, and the two post-college years that I spent in Chicago itself – I found that a car wasn't terribly necessary, thanks to the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). The bus routes are, after all, numerous – and the rapid transit system, more commonly referred to as the 'L,' is so far-reaching that it was easy to travel to countless destinations throughout the city and its suburbs. From Evanston, I would take the purple and red lines to reach Wrigley Field and downtown Chicago, and along the way, I could hop aboard the blue line for O'Hare Airport, the orange line for Midway Airport, and the brown line to reach the Old Town School of Folk Music. The system's green, pink, and yellow lines are equally helpful for navigating the Windy City.
Besides the fact that many of Chicago's trains have convenient operating hours – the red line, for instance, runs around the clock – the price is also quite affordable. For $5.75, you can purchase a one-day pass that grants you unlimited rides on all CTA buses and trains.
Of course, there are drawbacks to embracing Chicago's public transit system. Some trains, such as those on the much-used red line, are dirty and smelly at times, and it's not always safe to ride the train alone at night – or, at the very least, to walk alone between the train station and your intended destination. It's also true that, while you might meet some interesting folks on public buses and trains, it's also possible to encounter some not-so-savory passengers, as I experienced on a few occasions. But, nevertheless, I'm grateful for Chicago's convenient transit system, just as I've come to appreciate New Orleans' streetcars ($3 per one-day pass), San Francisco's cable cars ($6 per ride), the bus systems in Houston ($1.25-4.50 per ride) and Atlanta ($23.75 per seven-day pass), the light-rail systems in New York ($29 per seven-day pass) and Washington, D.C. ($1.95-5 per ride), and so many more – too many, in fact, to list here.
So, how do you feel about public transportation in the United States? Do you rely on it when you travel across America? If so, do you have a favorite urban transit system?
As always, I’m open to ideas for future posts. If you have any suggestions, burning questions, or destinations that you’d like me to explore in greater detail, please comment below or contact me via laura [at] wanderingsoles [dot] com.
Disclosure: While I occasionally accept free or discounted travel assistance when it coincides with my editorial goals, my opinion is never for sale, which means that everything written in my American Nomad blog and Moon travel guides is my unbiased reflection of the things that I see, do, and experience while traveling across the United States.
Photo of Chicago's CTA line / Text © 2012 Laura Martone