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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Just visiting? Well, good luck!

Posted By on Thu, Aug 30, 2012 at 1:18 AM

click to enlarge ashleybusstop1small.jpg

This is part of a series of stories by Kimmel, who's given up her car and is relying primarily on public transit.

I work part-time in a bar where I have daily conversations with people from out of town. Somehow or another, transit becomes a pretty regular conversation. Whether people ask me for the best place to park, how long it takes to get some place or, usually, if places in the city are walkable.

Usually my answer is yes. When I tell a person that Mass Ave. is an easy walk from my work, and they find out that it's over a mile, the conversation gets awkward and I typically have to apologize for my idea of walkable being greatly skewed.

As for the other questions, I have NO idea where people should park or how long it takes to drive some place.

In these conversations, it usually comes out that I don't own a car and people begin to ask more personal questions.

Mostly the visitors want to know why it's such a big deal to not own a car in this metropolitan city. This question usually brings a sense of humility to me, knowing that we are greatly lacking in the world of public transit. Furthermore, it's hard to hear while knowing that many, many people close to me are working as hard as they can to ensure that people don't have to ask that question anymore.

Often people will tell me that they tried to take a bus or a cab to the bar and find it extremely difficult and/or expensive. They want to know why they can't grab the bus from their airport hotel to downtown without a huge confusion or why it costs them over $30 in a cab.

I think that the world I live in is easy enough to navigate without a car, but it says something when it hinders our out-of-town visitors.

This week I met a man from St. Louis. His intentions were good, but his opinion was voiced and difficult to hear. He had a lot of words about his experiences with traveling to and through Indianapolis.

I also talked to a man on the phone who was in town from Arkansas and staying at the Ramada Inn at the airport. He wanted to know the best way to get from his hotel to our bar and whether the hotel shuttle would take him all the way downtown. After several minutes of conversation, the realization was that he was probably better off staying at the hotel bar and having a couple drinks, rather than pay for a cab and then spend half the night lost, only to double his cab fair for his return.

This frustrates me to no end. Sure, this city has a lot to offer our visitors... the museums, the track, the bars and restaurants, the monuments and the breweries. But how the hell are the visitors expected to get to them?

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