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Friday, July 06, 2007

On the Right Track

Against the backdrop of the Pennsylvania legislature's current debate over funding for mass transit systems across the commonwealth, I took the train into Center City Philadelphia today for the first time since I was a toddler. A proponent of mass transit since my days as a graduate student in urban studies, I was never really able to put my mouth where my money was due to the fact that the train station nearest to my house was heretofore inaccessible. When I picked up a friend at the same station earlier this week, I saw that it had been made completely accessible. With a conference to attend downtown next week, I thought I would go on a trial run today. I'm glad I did.

The savings in cost alone made it well worth it, as parking my full-size van in town costs at least $20. Roundtrip tickets for me and my nurse on SEPTA's Regional Rail service were $6 a piece for travel during off-peak hours* (of course, fares increase on Monday). And don't forget the cost of gas these days -- which should make funding for mass transit a slam dunk, but the way. Aside from cost, my van has a raised roof, so I can't park in most garages.

Riding the train itself very simple and convenient. The train conductors were friendly and helpful. With the long base of my wheelchair, it was a bit difficult to make the turn into the passenger car, but I wasn't about to let that stop me. While riding, the swaying motion of the train had me slightly on edge, as I don't have much balance, but tightening my wheelchair's chest strap resolved the problem for the most part.

Once in town, there was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity to grab a bite to eat at historic Reading Terminal Market. Hey, I might be skinny, but I'm not stupid -- I never pass up a good meal if I can help it!

*SEPTA riders with disabilities can qualify for reduced fares by filling out an application. I plan to do that ASAP!


dad said...

just so everyone knows...i came up with the title "on the right track"! josh does syphon off some of his dad's creativity!

Pat said...

you talked me into taking the train and i am glad i did. on the way back to the airport, we hit 80mph and it was rockin. i thought i was going over, but, no worries, just a fun ride. the staff was very helpful. Good call Josh.