A Hot Writeup About Cars, Trains, etc.
By Reza Ganjavi
[In the 1950s insurance and car companies in the US lobbied which resulted in the congress passing bills to make interstate highways at the expense of public transport - this event marked the beginning of the proliferation of the 4-wheel culture in which public transport is discouraged]
One of the greatest reasons for my happiness is not having a car. I drove in the USA for 16 years. You think in a car you're free to go where you want - but that freedom is not always true - when sitting in a traffic jam you're in a locked metal tiny cell of a prison with gradual input of poisonous gas! It sounds exaggerated but think about it. Nothing seems more stupid than long columns of cars lined up in the city - it seems against common sense - it seems so unnatural, out of harmony, especially when there is one person in one big car! What a waste of resource, environment, time, body! Driving is not good for the body (neither are computers one may argue). You may have heard of the whole automotive industry and how they intentionally ruined rail service in the USA to promote their profit... Last and not least, and perhaps the MOST IMPORTANT reason not to drive: you don't meet new people - there is something VERY healthy about being in touch with others - not even necessarily talking to others - but seeing them, smelling them, feeling them... it makes you feel more human. In your car, you only see another through the window - and even then, only their head.
It is sad: people, who instinctively need to communicate start doing so through bumper-stickers that say things like: "To Know Me Is To Love Me"... Public transportation in the USA, at least the places I lived for 16 years was pathetic - absolutely worthless - reserved only for those who could not afford to buy a metal-prison and insurance for it. Can you imagine how much exploitation goes into sustaining this business of cars that need petrol?! Distances, oh distances, are an American nightmare. You take it for granted that you must drive 1.5 hours to see your best friend or 2 hours to work. That is not life. America, the land of freedom. Don't get me wrong. I love many things about America - and it's not only American that's infected by the car disease - Europe is quickly catching up - go to Zurich on a weekday after 4 and you see the ugliest, heart-blocking scene of the prisoners of the metal cell. Here, in Switzerland, public transport is incredibly good. Even the remotest of villages have a bus that serves them. I think there is a right place for automobiles, but like thought, it has gone way out of its place, promoted by the selfishness of the industry.....
Aside from being bad for the physical environment and physical body, cars separate people - you think they bring people of a physical distance closer, whereas in fact they bring distance to people who'd otherwise be close if they rode in a bus or train and have an opportunity to meet....
Top 3 Healthy Car Interiors
Model Year Make Model Vehicle Rating
2012 Honda Civic 0.46
2011 Toyota Prius 0.55
2011 Honda CR-Z 0.63
Top 3 Unhealthy Car Interiors (Worst at the bottom)
Model Year Make Model Vehicle Rating
2011 Kia Soul 3.11
2011 Chrysler 200 SC 3.17
2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 3.17
No sidewalks in America is not unusual. A man walking in the street is unusual. So unusual that 2 nights when I went for walks, 2 cars yelled "hey" as they passed in the opposite lane - wow! They met a non(t)-in-car human!
Cars are such an integral part of life here in California - more important than legs. In Europe I practically do everything without a car - here, you practically cannot do anything without a car.
Played guitar at the art show in Santa Barbara - and then on the Pier. The bloody cars had invaded the pier - these monsters are allowed to go all the way to the end of the pier - what a shame!
Drivers beware: The air quality in your car stinks. By Keith Mulvihill
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - You may want to hold your breath the next time you are traveling by car. A new report says that air pollutants such as carbon monoxide can often be up to ten times worse inside cars than in the outside air.
Other nasty chemicals like benzene, ozone and nitrous oxide have also been shown to exceed outside levels and at times exceed what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) believes to be safe.
According to the EPA, ``The health threat from exposure to carbon monoxide is most serious for those who suffer from cardiovascular disease.'' In healthy people, exposure can affect exercise capacity, vision, manual dexterity and learning.
The space station is going at 5000 miles per hour. 17 minutes to go from Texas to Paris.
The toilet is inside the sitting area of the wagon and makes the wagon smell terrible. There is not a single clock on the boarding aisles. The conductor referred to their phone customer service as "blind leading blind". The phone reservation people gave 2 it’s of wrong info "conductor can’t give a ticket to Washington" and "cannot buy a ticket in the terminal". The guys next to me had problems too. "Do you think they'll reform the rail system?" 'I am getting out of here - been here for 34 years - have had enough".
The Amtrak is fantastic - very roomy - [it turned out that I was sitting first class] - it was late almost 1 hour - there are hardly any clocks in the station - have seen broken clocks showing the wrong time in almost all stations. There is an electrical outlet near each seat. No damn maps in the stations on the walls - not a single map. The guy: "What's the other line for?" “For people who want to wait longer!" I replied. It was absolutely true - for people who did not ask: maybe the short line will do. Lady was taking a bag full of veggies to her sister from her mother liked the guitar on the train.
Most Americans don't have the etiquette for riding trains - they put their dirty shoes on the seats. In Switzerland/Europe, people give more worth to a train seat - the train is not an unnecessary thing you ride sometimes on 3-day weekends when you leave your beloved car home - Europeans put a newspaper or take off their shoes before putting on the seat. You often find dirty seats on American trains which is very annoying.
"It's disgusting - I gave up a long time ago - you want to see it work come here", the conductor said - we went to the other compartment and 3 jerks had their shoes on the seat and got it all dirty - she asked them to remove their feet. All it takes is some common sense - some responsibility - what do these people learn in school? Making a seat dirty at the expense of the next passenger expands into making nuclear waste or de-forestation for the next generations to deal with.
Sure enough, their dirty shoes were on the seat again - but I was not about to interrupt their talk revolving around beer and baseball with any comments.
"Even high-class girls put their dirty shoes on the train seat here in America."
A train ride in America is still a lot more isolated and distanced than in Europe - here the seats do not face each other - you can tilt them to face each other or not and most are not and those that are usually the last to fill!
"I am not interested in cars - they're too loud, too stinky - they're not useful." Claudia Wellen
Shuttle people have to transfer to the first bus in line.
- The driver: ”It's not long.”
I thought: you should be ashamed of yourselves for this lousy scheduling.
- Is "C" stopping here?
- “I am responsible for "A" I don't know.” (The same company!) – narrow-minded or what? I noticed this when I first came to the US as a young teen -- the high degree of specialization and therefore narrow view.
3 options: very long walk - last stop of bus - change to another shuttle.
Circle the whole parking lot -- before taking people to public transport - not surprising in a culture that gives importance to cars.
Missed bus to Santa Monica because a driver gave wrong info [remembering India].
Lovely smell of magnolia.
If you're taking public transport you're screwed.
Frankenstein Train in California
Surprised? I'm not.
For all I know the Caltrain could be from the 1930s -- this old train reminds me of the train used in the Young Frankenstein!
And it's running in the year 2007 in Silicon Valley, one of the most affluent areas in one of the most affluent countries in the world. But that country, is the United States where money rules and it is a documented fact that public transport was systematically destroyed in some places in favor of the automobile. Why? Because autos are more profitable for car companies, insurance companies, tire companies, and last but not least, oil companies. This consumerism puts profits of big corporations as first priority without regard for what is best for the society and the environment.
It was a very uncomfortable ride -- minutes felt like hours in a Swiss train.
Trains are the underdogs. They apparently don't deserve renewal. I guess as long as Caltrain's ancient trains choochoo away they won't get upgraded. People also treat trains as underdogs. I have friends in the Bay area who would not even conceive of taking the train and view it as an underdog and inferior mode of travel. They don't know what they're missing.
I'll look forward to riding the Frankenstein train in California in 2017 and beyond.