|The train after we got off it.|
I missed all the controversy, though, being a recent arrival. So let me just skip straight to the fun bits. The downtown portion of the Red Line runs right next to the local bikeway, so I love it when I'm riding through just as the train is coming or going; the signal gates stop the traffic, but I get to keep going. Fantastic. There's a cool drawing on Wikipedia of Austin in 1873, and you can see the rail line on the east side of town. There is still a lot of old railing around over there, mostly paved over, but you can still see it. Kinda cool really. I often wonder, when riding along, if that's the sort of thing that I notice because I'm on my bike that I might miss if I were in a car. That was a bit of an aside, but the point is that the railway downtown still runs in more or less the same place as did in the illustration.
|Waiting for the train.|
Another funny thing about being on the train instead of watching it from atop my bicycle: the intersections click by so quickly. Really. We zoom through them, leaving them behind in one quick swoosh, so fast that it hardly feels like we've been there at all. But for the drivers who are waiting, it isn't quick. The signal jangles, the gates come down, and traffic waits. And waits. And waits. It has to be especially irritating at intersections near stations, because the train triggers the signal before it stops at the platform. So, anyone waiting at the intersection has to wait for people to load and unload before the train will finally pass and the traffic be free to flow again. I was on a bus a few months ago and saw a firetruck and ambulance get stuck that way, and of course the train driver doesn't know who is waiting and can't do much about it even if he or she did know. The operators don't control the signals. Some days I wonder: Do the same drivers get stuck at the train every day? It seems that they would, since people leave for work at about the same time every day, and the train runs on a fixed schedule.
When I'm on the train, I feel like there is so much to share about the experience. But really, it's transport. Point A to Point I, stopping at points B through H in between. A fun experience, but hard to describe.
Does your town have a train? Do you ever ride it? Do you ever get stuck at train signals?