Thursday, April 12, 2012

Time Warp

I often suffer from a condition called Massive Distortion of Time (MDT). It's a common problem for bus riders, but drivers are not immune either. 

Drivers tend to experience micro-distortion. Have I been sitting at this stoplight for 15 minutes...or was it only 15 seconds? Or maybe it was 4 seconds. It seems like forever! Sometimes it seems like waiting for the next green light is literally going to kill them. They get jittery and honk. They make big, angry eyes. They pull into the intersection and block cars in the other direction. They wag fingers. They call home to say that they'll be late. Bridge Closed?? You did NOT just delay my commute by 42 seconds. Oh. No. You. Didn't. [Insert crazed commuter face screaming silent obscenities behind a rolled up window.]

Now when bus riders get MDT, it is at a totally different scale. For example, I once decided to drive to a night meeting on the East Side (sometimes I like to come home and eat dinner). Did you know it takes like 4 minutes to get to the East Side on I-94?! I thought it was 85 miles from my house to Conway Rec, based on Bus Standard Time. If I didn't hate driving so much, I might get used to this kind of time travel. Also, this is why I don't wear a watch - it's better not to know.

For this reason, drivers assume that driving is always faster. It's not. That's where the bus space-time continuum gets tricky. My house is a 6 minute bus ride to Oak Street. Ah, but you say, you still have to wait for the bus to come! No. I don't. Bus rule #634 clearly states: "do not wait for the bus like a schmuck." Use real-time information. You should not be waiting more than two minutes at your regular stop, people. I have the trip from my kitchen to the bus stop down to four minutes (three if I'm wearing flats, or four and a half if I'm trying to eat an Eggo while I walk). And, once I get to Oak Street, they let me off right on the sidewalk, near all the food stuffs. While I'm trying to pick out my Blizzard flavor, you are driving in circles looking for parking. And when you can't find it, you retreat to the parking ramp, where you drive around in (upward) circles looking for a spot where an SUV isn't parked over the line. What I'm saying is - try to beat me there - it can't be done.

But the most mind-bending time warp is the stuff you see coming out of the street on University.

Streetcar tracks, piled up at Dale Street, dating to approximately 378 A.D. To be replaced by...streetcar tracks. We'll call them LRT tracks to make us less depressed about it. 

Granite pavers being hauled off in front of the Rondo Library, to be donated to the (yet to be founded) Minnesota Museum of Urban Archeology.

It took us 60 years and a billion dollars to get back to this (It's ok to cry a little or punch something). All I can say is that this LRT better last us for a long, looong time.

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