Monday, October 1, 2012

Thoughts on public transportation.

I'm not ashamed to admit it.

Some days I miss my car.

Getting to the doctor's office was so easy.  It was a couple of miles away.  Hop in the car.  Hop out.  If I needed to take Caroline it wasn't ideal, but I pop her out of the Subaru and into her stroller easily, and roll right into the office.  When I needed to do a little shopping or make a return, it was easy to put her in a cart at Target or roll her around the mall.

Last week I had some things to do in downtown London.  I needed to make a return in one area, go to my OB appointment in another, and look for a maternity coat in a third. 
And this is what it looked like:

1. Make our way to the Underground (Tube) station (.7 miles away) by foot/in a stroller.  This involves a hill when we cross the bridge.  It's a super pretty spot, but all-but causes me to black out in exhaustion as I climb it and push the buggy at the same time.

Can we say pregnant-meets-out-of-shape?


2. Our station is gratefully handicapped accessible, so we can take an elevator down to the platform, pay to get through the gate, and roll on through toward the train.  The trains have wide open doors, so (assuming it isn't rush hour) getting the stroller onto the train is easy.  When it isn't busy I can easily get a seat and park the stroller next to me.

Actually, when it IS busy people are quick to give me their seat.  Very sweet of them.  Much appreciated.

Also, paying is easy.  You can get credit card-like "Oyster" cards that you tap on the machines when you enter and exit.  You just have to remember to load them up with more cash every once in awhile.

So far, so good.

3. To get to shopping area #1 (Oxford Circus, which is where a bunch of the flagship and major department stores are located) requires 2 different train changes.  The changes were gratefully stair-free/handicapped accessible as well.  But then the final stop at Oxford Circus?  Not so much.

Actually about 75% of the Tube stops are not accessible, and often require more than one set of stairs.  And probably an escalator, too.
0704_2845 0702_2971
This is the hard part about getting out with a little one.

Do I...

A) Look helpless, try to make eye contact with someone who might take one end of the stroller and helps me up the stairs?
B) Stop a stranger and request help?
C) Take Caroline out of the stroller and put her under one arm, then grab the stroller with the other arm and heave everyone/everything up?

I've tried all three.  A is the most ideal, and it happens about 70% of them time.  While I'm grateful for that, the other 30% (B and C) kind of bites.

Maybe I just need to be more patient.  Or only choose accessible stops, then walk the rest of the way?  I'm still working out my strategy.
Anyway, back to the journey.

4. After doing some Oxford Circus shopping, it was time to head to the OB.  I had the option of getting back on the train and going down another stop or two, but neither stop was accessible and the office was only a ten minute walk away.  Walking won.

5. I have a plethora of thoughts about how doctors and hospitals and the baby-having process are different, but that's for another post.  But it was a good experience at the OB, and New Girl looks great.  Praise Jesus.

6. On to shopping stop #2: Seven Dials, an area of Covent Garden that's a little more boutique-y.  Very charming.  In general this city is not lacking for great shopping.  That's for sure.  But we encountered more stair problems at the OB's Tube Stop and at the Covent Garden one.   

7. Once our final shopping errand was complete, we headed back to the Tube, asked a stranger to help with the two different flights of stairs, and FINALLY headed home.  I was totally wiped out, and even took a bus from the Tube station to our apartment.

When we got home I put Caroline down for a nap, and tanked out on the couch for two hours.

Whew.  You see?  Some days I miss my car.

On a positive note, our family does have a car.  And I'm learning to drive it.  Josh usually uses it for getting to work, but he's willing to take the train if ever I want to use it during the day.  I may brave the London traffic to get to my next OB appointment in the comfort of an automobile.

Also, the bus is a very nice option for stroller-accessibility.  Each bus has a wide open space reserved for wheelchairs and strollers, and it's easy to get on and off.  They also accept Oyster cards for payment, which means I don't need to deal with exact change.  While the routes and bus numbers are a bit more confusing than the Tube, I've found that the bus is a great way to get to the closest mall.  And, you know, the grocery store and Tube station when I'm feeling especially lazy/tired or we're having nasty weather.  So far it seems best for shorter distances that keep us on our own side of town.  But I can't complain about the bus system.  It's a great tool to have.

This city gig is a new lifestyle choice for our family, and transportation seems to be one of those trial-and-error situations that we have to work out along the way.  As glamorous as it sounds to jet around this fabulous city on the Tube, there are days I would quickly trade it for running errands in my old Subaru.  But that's one of the small things we traded in for this opportunity, and overall we're definitely not regretting our decision to try out something new.


Steve Finnell said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jaimbob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jaimbob said...

Yay public transportation!

I may get to help you get Caroline up those steps... ;)

Amber said...

You're going to get into such great shape just running errands!

Ali said...

I am so stinkin' exhausted just reading about this!