Transportation News

5 Things I Learned While Taking Public Transportation For The First Time (to the Philadelphia Flower Show!)

 

1. You're not the only one that gets a little confused.

 

Growing up in the suburbs of Montgomery County, my family had 2 cars and I was never introduced to public transportation.  Maybe you are in the same boat.  When I started working for the Partnership TMA, a Transportation Management Association that works to help educate the community on how to ease congestion and enhance mobility, I realized I needed to see for myself if public transportation is something I should add to my life.  So when my boss suggested I take my first SEPTA trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show, I was pumped.  And a little nervous.  I had to get some travel training from our Deputy Director, Anthony Johnson.  He explained how to read the train schedule (up and down, as opposed to bus schedules which are read left to right), and to read the schedule looking at your destination first, to make sure your train is stopping where you are going.  I thought I was the only one who would feel a little lost at the station, but as soon as I walked in I heard plenty of people asking plenty of questions at the ticket counter.  Phew.  I am not the only train virgin in the whole of Montgomery County.

 

2. Don't bring coffee, unless you are prepared to drink the entire thing or hold it for an hour with never putting it down.

 

I thought I was pretty smart for making my way to the station early, a cup of joe in hand, muffin in my backpack.  No.  As soon as I sat down on the bench, I realized there was literally nowhere to put my cup without it spilling over.  Not to mention that the train picked up what seemed like a hundred passengers as we made our way through each stop, meaning I had a seatmate and it was crowded, with zero access to a trash can.  The muffin was useless in my backpack as well, with not enough hands (or a napkin) to even remotely appear ladylike while eating it.  Next time I will opt for bottled water.

 

3.  It is actually cleaner than I thought!

 

Armed with hand sanitizer and baby wipes, I thought for sure I would be at the very least, minimally grossed out.  The station, train, seats and even the passengers were clean, polite and calm.  That's not to say I didn't use my hand sanitizer.  It is flu season people, and I am not crazy.

 

4. Using Public Transportation is actually relaxing, not stressful like I thought.

 

Hundreds of strangers, trains traveling different directions, what seems to be a thousand lines and stops with no access to a bathroom.  It seems like it would be chaos.  During the ride, I found myself being so relaxed that I actually ended up putting on my headphones and playing a meditation app.  It was far less stressful than bumper to bumper traffic and trying to find a parking spot in Philly (all the while spending the amount of a car payment to park).  I don't know if I will be able to go back to Philly via car.  I am officially spoiled.

 

5. People are nice.

 

After the show, which was incredible, I was having trouble locating where to exit to be able to head to where I wanted to go.  One of the flower show workers escorted me all the way out to the exit I needed to ensure I did not get lost.  Then, I headed over to Reading Terminal Market for some lunch.  Dibruno's makes a mean Arancini Ball (in case you were wondering).  After lunch, I felt a little turned around.  I asked two separate security guards near the convention center for directions. They patiently showed me how to get back to Jefferson Station.  Then at the station, I realized I was unsure of what train to board and where.  So I headed to the information desk, and told the woman there I was heading to Lansdale, and she told me exactly where to go, Track 1 B for the 1:20 home.

 

All in all, I would say my experience riding public transportation for the first time was a success!  I was pleasantly surprised at the ease of finding my way, with the help of my travel training and a few good people along the way.  If you can, head on over to SEPTA to get your pass and ride tickets for the Philadelphia Flower Show, which runs until March 11.  And while you are at it, pick me up some Arancini Balls will you? 5 Things I Learned While Taking Public Transportation For The First Time (to the Philadelphia Flower Show!)

 

1. You're not the only one that gets a little confused.

 

Growing up in the suburbs of Montgomery County, my family had 2 cars and I was never introduced to public transportation.  Maybe you are in the same boat.  When I started working for the Partnership TMA, a transportation management association that works to help educate the community on how to ease congestion, I realized I needed to see for myself if public transportation is something I should add to my life.  So when my boss suggested I take my first Septa trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show, I was pumped.  And a little nervous.  I had to get some travel training from our Deputy Director, Anthony Johnson.  He explained how to read the train schedule (up and down, as opposed to bus schedules which are read left to right), and to read the schedule looking at your destination, before choosing where to leave from, to make sure your train stops where you need to end up.  I thought I was the only one who would feel a little lost at the station, but as soon as I walked in I heard plenty of people asking plenty of questions at the ticket counter.  Phew.  I am not the only train virgin in the whole of Montgomery County.

 

2. Don't bring coffee, unless you are prepared to drink the entire thing or hold it for an hour with never putting it down.

 

I thought I was pretty smart for making my way to the station early, a cup of joe in hand, muffin in my backpack.  No.  As soon as I sat down on the bench, I realized there was literally nowhere to put my cup without it spilling over.  Not to mention that the train picked up what seemed like a hundred passengers as we made our way through each stop, meaning I had a seatmate and it was crowded, with zero access to a trash can.  The muffin was useless in my backpack as well, with not enough hands (or a napkin) to even remotely appear ladylike while eating it.  Next time I will opt for bottled water.

 

3.  It is actually cleaner than I thought!

 

Armed with hand sanitizer and baby wipes, I thought for sure I would be at the very least, minimally grossed out.  The station, train, seats and even the passengers were clean, polite and calm.  That's not to say I didn't use my hand sanitizer.  It is flu season people, and I am not crazy.

 

4. Using Public Transportation is actually relaxing, not stressful like I thought.

 

Hundreds of strangers, trains traveling different directions, what seems to be a thousand lines and stops and no access to a bathroom.  It seems like it would be chaos.  During the ride, I found myself being so relaxed that I actually ended up putting on my headphones and playing a meditation app.  It was far less stressful than bumper to bumper traffic and trying to find a parking spot in Philly (all the while spending the amount of a car payment to park).  I don't know if I will be able to go back to Philly via car.  I am officially spoiled.

 

5. People are nice.

 

After the show, which was incredible, I was having trouble locating where to exit to be able to head to where I wanted to go.  One of the flower show workers escorted me all the way out to the exit I needed to ensure I did not get lost.  Then, I headed over to Reading Terminal Market for some lunch.  Dibruno's makes a mean Arancini Ball (in case you were wondering).  After lunch, I felt a little turned around.  I asked two separate security guards near the convention center for directions. They patiently showed me how to get back to Jefferson Station.  Then at the station, I realized I was unsure of what train to board and where.  So I headed to the information desk, and told the woman there I was heading to Lansdale, and she told me exactly where to go, Track 1 B for the 1:20 home.

 

All in all, I would say my experience riding public transportation for the first time was a success!  I was pleasantly surprised at the ease of finding my way, with the help of my travel training and a few good people along the way.  If you can, head on over to Septa to get your pass and ride tickets for the Philadelphia Flower Show, which runs until March 11.  And while you are at it, pick me up some Arancini Balls, will you?

A Special Thanks to Our Sponsors

SEPTA   |   PennDOT   |   DVRPC   |   Montgomery County