As humans, we are all creatures of habit. We are set in our ways and trying anything new is sometimes followed by a “Hmmm, not sure” hesitation. Yet, the hesitation is often due to a misconception.
Let’s take transit for example. People have many misconceptions towards public transportation, some based on one bad experience they had a long time ago. Or maybe their feelings are based on stories and pictures seen on social media. Allow me to debunk some of the more popular myths and introduce the lesser known benefits of public transportation.
Perception: The bus and/or train is never on time. I never know when it’s going to arrive.
Fact: Thanks to the prevalence of smartphones, access to transit information is only an app away.
Some of our favorite transit apps are:
- BusTrackDC: Real-time bus and Metrorail information
- busETA: WMATA Metrobus tracker
- Transit: Regional bus and rail tracker, available for over 170 cities
- CityMapper: Helps you get from Point A to Point B using public transportation, available for most major cities
Perception: Riding public transit is expensive.
Fact: The cost of transit is typically related to distance traveled. However, every bus ride is only $2.00 and transfers are free for up to two hours. Additionally, most employers in Arlington offer a transit subsidy to help subsidize commuting cost. If they don’t, contact us and we can help your employer implement a transit benefit program.
Perception: My child goes to school/daycare so I may have to leave early in case of an emergency; therefore, driving is my best option.
Fact: As a parent I can totally relate to this one. However, thanks to our friends at Commuter Connections, the Guaranteed Ride Home (GRH) program is a perfect solution. GRH provides commuters who regularly take transit, bike, walk, or carpool/vanpool at least two times per week with a free reliable ride home for emergencies or unscheduled overtime up to four times per year. You do need to register though!
Perception: Biking sounds like a good option but I don’t own a bike and I’m low on funds, so cannot afford to buy one.
Fact: Capital Bikeshare to the rescue! With six different membership options, this low cost bikesharing system makes it easy to commute via bike without having to own one.
Membership options include:
- 24 hour ($8), 3 day ($17)
- Day Key ($10 initial fee + $7/day)
- 30-day ($28)
- Annual membership ($85)
Encourage your employer to take advantage of the corporate program and you can receive further discounts on your annual membership.
Perception: Biking means I will have to wear spandex shorts.
Fact: Yes! But only if you want to. An average bike commuter does not need any special bike gear other than the basics like a helmet, bike lights, and maybe a water bottle holder. Biking is also a great way to get some exercise in without going to the gym.
Perception: My manager will never let us telework because he/she believes out of sight is out of mind.
Fact: Modern technology and software such as Skype have made communication seamless to overcome these barriers. Just check out our blog, "How to Talk to Your Employer About Telework" for the many ways you can approach the conversation with your employer. Your employer can always implement a pilot program before committing to a formal policy.
Perception: There are no employer benefits for using vanpool to commute to work.
Fact: You can use your commuter benefits to help pay for your vanpool (up to $260/month) and receive additional monthly rewards through our Vanpool Connect program.
Perception: I have my own fears about slugging, I don’t want anybody to eat or smoke in my car.
Fact: Slugging has its own etiquette and rules that both the driver and rider need to follow to make the ride enjoyable. No eating or smoking in the car by the driver and slug is one of the rules. A detailed list of etiquette and rules can be found on slug-lines.com.
Perception: SmarTrip cards can only be used on Metrorail and Metrobus.
Fact: You can use the SmartTrip card to ride Metrorail, Metrobus, ART bus, Fairfax Connector, and Circulator. One card can take you many places!
Perception: I live in the suburbs and Metrorail does not serve the suburbs.
Fact: Agreed, Metrorail may not be the best option for you. However, there are other services such as the VRE that serve as far south as Spotsylvania and Fredericksburg (Fredericksburg Line) and as far west as Manassas (Manassas Line) and MARC that serves Baltimore City, Frederick, West Virginia, and more.
Next Steps for the Transit Novice
Hopefully you’re ready to give public transit a try. Download one of our Quick Glances for Urban Villages in Arlington, Virginia to get started on your public transportation journey.
Photo Credit: Sam Kittner/Kittner.com for Arlington Transportation Partners