Public transportation is something that often intimidates individuals. However, it is a huge and wonderful part of the Wagner experience because it is so accessible and affordable. I was a complete newbie to every form of public transportation, but just after three quick months of different excursions, I feel ten times more comfortable with it. This is my journey to see my friend in Baltimore, Maryland from Wagner College.
- 1:10 Wagner Shuttle to the Staten Island Ferry : There were more people than expected so I unfortunately could not sit up front and selfie with the driver. However, I was able to selfie with Bri, a sophomore, who was on her way to Penn Station to take a train to Rhode Island.
- So I took the 1:30 ferry to the South Ferry Subway Station. Bri and I got on the 1 Train going Uptown. On a Thursday afternoon, the 1 was relatively crowded, but it has been worse! Bri got off at Penn Station while I carried on to 42nd Street. Walking up the subway stairs, I could hear the hustle and bustle of Times Square. My bus wasn’t scheduled to leave for another hour or so, so I walked up and down Time Square for a little. Around 3:15, I ventured into Port Authority.
- Port Authority was new territory for me. There were multiple floors which had gates with many destinations across the top of their signs. I had a ticket to Baltimore for 4:00 PM. Once I was confident I was in the right line, an elderly couple told me they were in line heading to Delaware. So it was up to me, the young college student who was new to the whole public transport thing, to figure out who was and wasn’t in the right line. Turns out, we all were exactly where we were supposed to be. As I boarded the bus, I waited patiently, hoping that nobody would sit next to me over all the other open spots. Luckily, there was a maximum of ten people boarding the bus at the Port Authority station. I had my two seats to sprawl out on for this four hour bus ride.
- Bye, New York City. I had officially conquered expedition one of my three day trip to Baltimore.
- Mount Laurel, New Jersey. Did you know that the bus is one fourth the price of a train ticket? Did you also know that you stop at many bus stations before reaching your final destination? I found that out as we stopped at Mount Laurel, NJ. It was around 5:45 pm and all I wanted was to be in Baltimore.
- Wilmington, Delaware. 6:49 pm. I met a former UMass football player who did not want to be traveling, but had to for work. He talked to me for over two hours. Some of it was nice, and other parts I just wanted him to plug in his headphones so I could read my book. I had never taken public transportation without my family until I got to college, but one thing I learned is that if you’re alone, people feel a lot more inclined to talk to you. You’ll meet some really cool individuals but you’ll also meet some people you should probably cut the conversation short with. This dude was cool, I was just super tired and knew I had at least two more hours in my public transportation experience.
- Baltimore, Maryland. Once I arrived at the Greyhound Bus Station in Baltimore, I had to walk a little less than a mile in order to get on the nearest Light Rail, which is sort of like Baltimore’s Subway. This part was a little sketchy, but honestly it felt good to have fresh air and to move. I walked right past the stadium the Ravens would play the Steelers in later that week and straight to the Light Rail.
- So the Light Rail is semi-different than the NYC subway system. It is above ground and travels through the streets. I made it just in time, swiping the ticket I had to buy from a machine, and running onto the trolley. Less crowded than the subway, I sat in a seat and observed the different culture of the Maryland regulars. 30 minutes later, I would be in Lutherville where my friend would then pick me up.
- Around 9:00 pm, I arrived in a lonely parking lot right off the Light Rail, and there sat my best friend the car, anxiously waiting to pick me up. Finally, almost ten hours after leaving my dorm room, I had survived public transportation and was rewarded with a lovely diner experience.
- Of course, come Sunday morning, I would have to do this all again. However, instead of the light rail, I tested out my first Uber experience and took an Uber all theway to the Greyhound Station. My Uber driver was a dad with three kids who had recently bought a farm and used to be a teacher, but now Uber’s on the side and works in the corporate world in order to have a sufficient income.
If someone had told me I would become a public transportation expert when I arrived on campus in late August, I would have not believed a word they said. But almost three months later and I have learned how to call a taxi, use the shuttle, ride the ferry, master the subway, tackle Penn Station and the Amtrack trains, conquer Greyhound Buses and Port Authority, figure my way through the Baltimore Light Rail, and safely ride and pay for my own Uber. Public Transportation has gone from a terrifying concept to do alone to a beautiful resource that Wagner College offers in every possible way.