Friday, May 30, 2008

The Zen of Mass Transportation

One of the feel good stories about the rise of gas prices is that more folks are using earth-friendly mass transportation. Here in San Francisco, where Muni use was already high, I have felt this in the last two months as the lines I ride (the 41 and 12, primarily) have gotten considerably more crowded.

The shot above is from the 41 the other morning, where by the halfway point downtown it is impossible to snag a seat between 730 - 9am. The mere fact that I reverently think of sitting during my commute as 'snagging a seat' - like winning a lottery or some other such unexpected special thing - suggests just how crowded our mass transit is becoming.

It's wonderful and terrible at once. Nobody said saving the world would be convenient, or that it would be comfortable. In fact, it was great discomfort at the pump and not our magnanimous do-gooderistic tendencies, that forced the recent move to mass transit, so perhaps discomfort was a necessary a factor in the true move to save Green of both kinds.

Wired echoes this in a recent article 'Rethinking What It Means to Be Green' flipping many of the conventional wisdoms on their heads. The part that stuck with me, and helps me achieve a self-sustaining zen on a crowded Muni bus: live in a city, it's simply more efficient (and not at just giving you a headache). Living in a city, a cultural and now, ecological, choice has always had it's inconveniences. Only now we can justify them with the higher purpose of saving the Earth. Try that out in your mantra next time you have to tolerate a crowded bus.

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