I had a rude awakening last night while casually discussing public transportation over a glass of grossly overpriced Chardonnay. I accidentally called the New York City subway the “metro.” <<shudder>> This means I’m officially settled into the Northern Virginia suburban lifestyle. “Settled” might be a strong word, considering I just moved into my third home since relocating here less than a year ago, but you get the idea.
underwhelming heated debate about the NYC train vs. DC metro prompted me to make my argument public, on this here blog. I argue in favor of the New York City subway. OBVIOUSLY.
I am by no means bashing my current city. The DC metropolitan area has some real benefits, like conveniently-located Targets and the occasional POTUS sighting. In case you didn’t know, Obama likes to ditch his secret service once in a while and take a casual stroll along the streets of DC, because, you know, what else is there to do? But one of the benefits of this area is not a speedy, reliable underground train system.
Sure, I’ve yet to step into a train car in DC that is completely empty because of a single homeless man asleep in the corner, whose stench makes passengers evacuate. And no, a trio of guitarists wearing sombreros has yet to overpower
Book of Mormon Wicked NSYNC Ellie Goulding playing through my headphones. But that does not make the DC metro system better than New York’s subway. I’ll take those pesky breakdancers almost kicking my face and the sweaty, balance-challenged tourists over having to wait 6,000 years for a train to ever show up.
Once in a while, I’d wait an eternity for a train in NYC. In DC, I wait an eternity every. single. time. Why? Because the only time I ever want to take the metro is on weekends. Apparently, DC has decided that people don’t need to get anywhere on weekends, so trains only run once per orbit around the sun. I also live off the orange line, which in my experience, is under constant construction. No, really- it never works. I’ve been told that I need to get the app that tells you when exactly a train is going to arrive so that I don’t sit and wait underground, but let’s be honest, when does public transportation ever arrive when it says it will? There are too many variables. The clan of teenagers who hold the doors while waiting for their friend’s card to swipe, the inexplicable two minute stop in the pitch black darkness, and the occasional jumper. (Or push- any House of Cards fans out there?) I will never trust an app to tell me when the train will actually arrive. Also, need I remind you that I’m a granny, so apps are still overwhelming to me.
New York is predictable. I don’t need fancy electronic signs or an app telling me how many minutes I’ll have to wait. From sheer experience, I know that 1 trains run every 30 seconds, so close together that you fear they might have a fender bender. The C and E trains come every 5-10 minutes. Same with the 456. The N train runs more than the R train, but both are pretty regular. The Q and the A are like the Polar Express, because catching one feels magical as you whiz pass everyone waiting at the completely unnecessary 18th Street stop and think “haha suckahhhs!” The JMZ trains- I mean, do people actually take those? Then there’s the F, which is NYC’s equivalent to the overall DC metro experience, meaning you really never know if or when it’s going to show up. F the F, if you know what I’m saying.
DC sounds easier in theory because all you need to know are the colors of the rainbow, but beyond the fact that it runs less frequently than I do- which says something- I find it difficult to navigate. First of all, it’s hard to navigate when you feel like you’re about to puke, which the metro seems to induce in me. I don’t know- maybe I need the
abrupt gentle jostling of an old New York City train car- but the metro is like riding something straight out of The Jetsons and my body doesn’t like it. Also, where’s the loud, angry driver yelling at me when I’m half asleep to remind me of what stop I’m at? I miss those feisty NYC subway drivers who scream over the intercom at any chance they get. They kept me on my toes so I always knew where I was. Not to mention the lack of signs in DC. New York subway stations have the street name plastered every four feet along the walls and on every column. Whoever designed DC’s metro system severely underestimated how closely I’d be paying attention to my location.
Lastly, I should mention my issue with how DC charges you based on distance. Seems like a smart idea, right? Wrong. In NYC, I could ride the train all day long, lost in a good book, and pay $2.50. Or I could go one stop because I’m a lazy sloth who doesn’t want to walk eight blocks, and still pay $2.50. It all balanced out. Swipe once when you enter the station, and the underworld is yours for the taking. In DC, I never ever know how much I’ll have to pay. $1? $1,000? Who’s to know? And I have to get my metro card out when I enter AND when I leave? That seems like a bit much. Also, a monthly unlimited pass in NYC is $112. Let me tell you, I was NOT a happy camper when it rose from $104 to $112. Come on, that $8 can get me 1 1/2 martinis at Pazza Notte. (If you live in NYC, go check it out. And be careful. 2 for 1 martinis can seem like a good idea until it isn’t.) But then I look at the $237 monthly pass in DC and it all gets put into perspective.
You people who are jiggy with apps, value cleanliness, and are responsible enough not to fall asleep in public transportation might disagree with me, but I am who I am. You know who won’t argue with me? DC taxi drivers. Because they have all my money.