Last summer, when my Jeep died on me (RIP Jeep21), I had no choice but to take public transit to work. I have never been a public transit sort of person really. I don’t like waiting, I don’t like crowds and I don’t particularly like the “general public”. Great combination when riding a bus and train into the downtown core or to drive to Marlborough station and then a 20 or so minute ride via C-Train to downtown.
The worst part of it was in the winter when you would have to wait for the bus to arrive. The bus that I took came every 15 minutes. Going from home was easy, I knew what time the bus was supposed to arrive and typically, unless the roads were bad, they were on time. Coming home after getting off of the train was a different story. It always seemed that I’d get off of the train and then by the time I walked over to where the bus stop was, I would just miss it. I am sure that the drivers took great pleasure in seeing someone run for the bus only to drive away.
So, in late January, I got myself another vehicle. Although the transit system in the system is a good one, getting around in such a large place can be rather time consuming. Going for groceries and what not was a bit of a pain. Taxi’s are fine, but a bit expensive – mind you, a taxi ride once a week doesn’t compare to the expense of maintaining a vehicle.
I would drive to one of the stations (either Marlborough or Franklin), park and ride. This cut out the bus part of my trip, which was the least convenient part of the trip. When parking at Franklin became hard to come by, I would park at Marlborough seeing as it was a mall and parking was plentiful. The Park n’ Ride parking was free, unless you wanted a reserved spot – not a bad deal.
The C-Trains are normally quite full. They do a good job of getting people from the suburbs into the core. Often, since I am not a fan of crowds, etc., I would wait until a train arrived that wasn’t already packed. They are supposed to run every 5 minutes or so during rush hour times. This became a routine.
Recently, with the aging trains, delays have become more and more common. It is odd, there are rarely delays going into the downtown core from the NE where I catch the train but coming home, training that are coming from the West are delayed more often than not. I am not sure if the issue is the trains themselves or if there is some sort of problem on the West line itself – seems strange that there are often delays on that line as opposed to the other line.
I have been looking, randomly, for parking downtown. Parking is relatively easy to come by, but, the issue is that parking is expensive. Pretty much starts at around $250 per month. Not too reasonable.
Last week, I had to drive into work to bring a bunch of stuff back into the office. I had stopped at 7/11 to break a 20 for change for the lot near my office. Daily parking is $16. I start to put my money in the machine and I happened to have two of the new toonies and the machine wouldn’t accept them. After trying a few times, I decided that it wasn’t going to work so I asked the machine to give me my money back. I figured that it would simply spit my change back out at me. No. It gives me a receipt that I have to take to the office of the parking company. Awesome.
So, in the meantime, I need to find somewhere to park. I moved into the lot directly beside my office building and the very nice lady in HR gave me a temporary pass for the parking garage across the street at the University of Calgary. Managers get parking paid for them, perhaps I should become a manager. I checked, parking over there is $450 per month. Yikes.
A few days later, I take a walk to get my refund from my parking. When I am there, I figured that I would ask about parking, somewhere neat my office. They happen to have some spaces in a building about 7 blocks from my office, underground, heated parking for only $150 per month. Not bad at all.
So, after a little more than a year of taking transit into work, starting October 1, I will rejoin the hordes of people driving into the core. Of course, this goes against what the city is trying to do – get people to take transit into downtown. But, I am getting tired of the things that I have mentioned. It will be nice, if I want to, to be able to go home at lunch and let the dogs out. I won’t have to deal with crowds, with people who wear backpacks that are a foot thick on the train who refuse, for some unknown reason to take them off. I won’t have to stand, vying for a spot to hold onto. I won’t have to put up with the odd smells and the odd conversations. I will be able to drive with my coffee as I drive in. Sure, I will have to put up with some traffic, but since I start at 9am, most of the traffic has cleared up by the time I leave in the morning and has also died off by the time I will leave at night. I will have a longer walk to and from the parking garage, but, I am told, walking is good for you.
As for costs, I will pay about $50 more for the parking spot than I do for a transit pass. I will also spend some more on gas, I am guessing $20 a week or so, presuming I don’t go home at lunch.
But, more important than all of that, I might be able to keep sane, just a bit longer. In the long run, that just might be worth it.