vendredi 9 mars 2007

Transit joys

I thought I was imagining things yesterday afternoon when I saw someone on the C-train reading what looked to be a Metro newspaper. I kept staring at it for a while wondering what language it was in since I had only seen it in French. My first thought was, "Did that man bring that paper all the way from Montreal? That doesn't make any sense!" My thinking isn't usually too logical. After seeing that the paper was indeed in English (you'd think the missing accent would tip me off), I figured that Calgary was now distributing this free daily transit newspaper, and it is! I saw a woman with a copy of it today, which made me wonder where I could get my hands on one. I haven't seen any newsstands in the train stations yet, so I'll have to find out what these "strategic locations" are (they must be hidden from as far I can tell since I've seen all of two people reading them).

Another great transit find has been coming across this article about a proposed Smart Card system for Montreal, which makes me really excited about how convenient it'll be to take transit there in the future! It will certainly take away the guesswork when I'm trying to figure out what ticket I need to buy to go from the bus or Metro to the commuter train or vice versa. And Quebec City too - that means the RTC will join the STM and AMT in one big happy family!

I don't know when I became a transit nerd but now I have this habit of collecting transit maps from my travels. Not only are they handy for getting around town, they make pretty fun souvenirs too. The strangest one has to be the subway map from the MBTA that has this blurb at the bottom: "Ironic. The guy who fought communism has a stop on the red line." That guy is JFK and he doesn't even get the stop to himself but has to share it with the University of Massachusetts. At least he's not sharing it with Aquarium or Butler :)

Admittedly, I used to hate taking transit in high school. I didn't mind it for school since I was downtown but for getting to church, it was a nightmare (a bus here, a train there, another bus somewhere else). I guess taking it last year was a struggle as well since my commutes from the West Island to downtown Montreal would take hours, making me exhausted before I even got to my destination.

Even though they were draining trips, I know I missed a great opportunity with that experience. I could have had so many chances to talk with people on the bus or Metro rather than being off in my own world listening to music or just staring out the window. Thinking back on it now, I'm saddened at my lack of initiative and my selfishness for being wrapped up in my own thoughts instead of reaching out to others. I have friends who have this amazing ability to sustain engaging conversations with people on transit all the time. I have a long way to go before I get to that point but I want to be open to the opportunities that God may have for me when I take transit. I often listen to music to pass the time but what if that is blocking me from communicating with people? In fact, I know it's getting in the way of doing that.

I missed the start of Lent this year (my trip to Montreal always throws me off track with the timing) but I think just for the rest of this month, I am going to limit how often I escape from connecting with people while I'm on the train and bus. I wonder if there are any random conversations that God may have waiting for me. It'll be exciting to find out.

Update: Forgot to link to this fun collection of the world's top 11 underground transit systems. This link and the Smart Card article courtesy of montreal city weblog. I also came across some Metro newsstands today - they're actually everywhere throughout downtown! These bright green containers can be found outside the train stations (no use of indoor wire racks thus far), so happy Metro-ing!

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