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!