Thursday, May 18, 2006

Traveling on Big Wheels

In air-conditioned comfort, I traveled in a stretch vehicle driven by a uniformed employee, who politely opened the door for me. It was a luxurious, waterfront ride for $1.25 — far less than a gallon of gas — courtesy of a Miami-Dade Transit bus.

I shared the ride with tourists, who were traveling to the Nasdaq-100 tennis tournament. Other riders included, Raymond Cummings, a Miami resident, who is also a big fan of public transportation.

“It’s cheaper than buying gasoline,” said Cummings. “I don’t drive. My wife usually drives. I just don’t like the traffic.”

Many consumers have reservations about public transportation. Complaints range from schedules, convenience and access. Many of those concerns are valid, but as gas prices continue to climb, I've noticed an effort to improve public transporation. And indeed, there should be a long-term commitment to upgrade and support transit systems.

Buses and trains are affordable and energy efficient. There are also fare discount programs for individuals, senior citizens, veterans and students. Many transit programs also offer group discount plans for companies. But even without discounts, buses, subways, trolleys and trains are far cheaper than cars.

To get the most mileage out of public transportation, it’s best to check schedules and leave plenty of time for possible delays. And I always carry work or reading material with me. It's my spin on energy efficiency.

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