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But will he ever return?

Update, 8:07 p.m.: He's made it to Philadelphia and discovers that "SEPTA is evil."

Jules Wang set out early this morning to see just how far south he could get strictly on public transit (not including Amtrak).

He started on the 6:55 a.m. train from South Station to Worcester, where he transferred to the PVTA's new Worcester/Amherst bus route (so new he had trouble finding anybody at Union Station to tell him where it was, but still an improvement over the old route - commuter rail to Gardner, a MART bus to Athol, an FRTA bus to Northampton for the PVTA bus to Amherst).

Reports it took 95 minutes just to get from Amherst to Springfield on another PVTA bus.

OK, so that's all westbound. As of noon, he was still in Springfield, waiting for the next CTRail train to New Haven.

H/t rlewis3060 for the headline.

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Comments

… in public transportation.
I didn’t know you could get so far on local public transport again. Apparently a hundred years ago you could travel from Boston to NYC for about $2. all on trolley lines that met up at the ends of lines. It took 2 and a half days.

Happy trails, Jules!

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Voting closed 40

Well you are still right. Except its a bus.

2 dollars in 1921 (100 years ago) is about 30 bucks. On some of those discount bus lines its about 30 bucks (or less) each way. And considering traffic outside New Haven, and NYC, it could take you 2 and half days to get there too.

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No trolley line let you jump on one and go 200+ miles which is what those buses do. So I think they're talking more about connecting from one end of a metro system to another and adding them all up to make it to NYC. Not sure, but that's how I'm interpreting it.

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Remember.. many of the inter-city bus lines were once trolley or train lines.

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What I'm saying is that the person cited in Adam's piece is intentionally cutting out the easy long-distance options between Boston and NYC and is instead relying on the web of networks that are centered in the smaller cities in between.

The point in the comment you replied to where they said, "all on trolley lines that met up at the ends of lines" is the key part. This person is comparing a historical model of that web with how you would today be able to travel between the smaller cities to go long distance rather than the more direct routes that connect the major metropolises.

That's why I don't think it's fair to compare a single bus that runs today from Boston to NYC with what they are trying to do.

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I guess "public transit" means "interconnecting local transit systems, but not government subsidized intercity rail"?

Because he ought to be cooling his heels in Washington D.C. by now, waiting for the 26 hour leg to Miami.. Seems a strange distinction line to draw.

How far south can you get using ground based multi passenger services seems more appropriate to me, in which case I suspect the answer is Key West, followed by Corpus Christi.

I'm all for more government subsidization of rail rather than highways, but choosing the least efficient approach misses the point, especially when the same service is run by two different entities.

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He specifically excluded both Amtrak and large coach buses (so no Greyhound or Peter Pan), which, yes, makes things more challenging (if you look at his tweets, he briefly considered an alternate route via commuter rail to Providence and RIPTA).

He's hardly the first to make that distinction: In 1903 and again in 1908, people wrote books about taking trolleys from Delaware or New York up to Maine (scroll to the end of that linked article for the links to their books, unless you want to read my fevered imaginings of going from here all the way to DC on commuter rail, which would require a couple of gaps to be filled in).

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… than the one you imagine? Maybe he’s also testing access between locations that are not stops on Amtrak, difference in fares or just having an adventure? Maybe it’s not about getting from A to B but about everything in between? The fastest most efficient route is not always the most interesting.

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Yes, I agree with that, I was reacting to the the original goal, now slightly edited to explicitly exclude Amtrak of "how far south he could get strictly on public transit". That didn't include any other goals.

I see a distinction between fully private services ( but subsidized via the general subsidy of building highways ) like Greyhound, and those directly government supported like Amtrak, local CR, and local bus. Excluding Amtrak in that conversation seems weird when it is the most efficient way using "public transit" to move southward.

My understanding from the tweets is that he waited to take the next train on the same tracks, from a different provider.

The true value here is in the network of intermodal transportation, and yes, interconnections of the ends of local services increase the value and efficiency of that network.

If I'm looking for the least expensive transit south, then I'll walk to Miami, but it'll take a while.

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I guess a better way to discuss this is local or regional transit. Part of my interest in doing this is the networking of systems developed for each party's own needs and within each's limitations. Lots of people are caught in service gaps between systems or in entirely disparate, but crucial zones. Interstate travel by these means may or may not be cheaper than the alternatives, but do they best serve the needs of prospective riders?

I'm a very idiosyncratic person who is interested in transit-related idiosyncracies, admittedly. Also, I find driving emotionally draining and costing too much.

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Thank you for explaining the reasoning behind the way you're approaching this. Enjoy your adventure.

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Amtrak - Founded in 1971 as a quasi-public corporation to operate many U.S. passenger rail routes, Amtrak receives a combination of state and federal subsidies but is managed as a for-profit organization. The United States federal government through the Secretary of Transportation owns all the company's issued and outstanding preferred stock. Amtrak's headquarters is located one block west of Union Station in Washington, D.C.[.

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I wonder if he'll run into Sob Story Guy who is always trying to "get to Springfield" by a certain time to get a designated bed in a shelter. Come to think of it, I haven't seen that guy on the T in quite a while now.

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Is he related to the guy who got mugged at the Red Sox game every week and needs bus fair to Maine for his girlfriend and baby who are both waiting at South Station?

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You trying to ruin my side hustle of robbing that guy every week? It's nice reliable way to get a little spending money for the weekend each week.

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Jules shall be known as Charlie

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the Jules Card.

Good all the way to ... Florida?

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E-ZPass finally made it all the way to Florida. It only took 20 years.

It would be nice if there was a national transit card, so you didn't have to mess around with a new fare system for each city you visit. It's a little-known fact that most transit systems in Massachusetts (such as they are) take payments by CharlieCard.

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Even if his thread has broken a bit.

Sounds like he'll be in the City a bit after 5. In time to get a good connection to Trenton, Philly and beyond?

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is still unlearn'd

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Elizabethan pronunciation ("learned" sung as "ler-ned") didn't scan.

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It's still pronounced that way when used as an adjective, unless the language has moved on and left me in the dustbin again. Doesn't apply to Charlie On The MTA, of course.

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two general senses (most adjectival) that vary with pronunciation. Say it with three syllables, and it means "ignorant, uneducated, lacking scholarship or erudition", which I knew. Say it in two, and it's more like, "something you know instinctively without the benefit of formal education" -- new to me -- but not the sense of "unknown", as in the song, which is not at all a common usage, but I imagine everyone got the first time they heard that tune.

My dad loved The Kingston Trio, so I did too by osmosis as a little kid, but never credited them as language pioneers. A clever stretch for the sake of a rhyme. (I similarly liked Julie London, but mostly for the album covers, which inspired then-mysterious stirrings in my kindergartener self. I didn't appreciate her actual music till adulthood.)

I'd like to say this moment of word pedantry was brought to you by a costly liberal arts education, but to be honest, I was into this crap as a super-dorky eight-year-old who thought poring over the dictionary was awesome fun. College did teach me a couple of things. One, match your tone and level of erudition to your audience if you want to be an effective communicator. Two, being a word nerd very rarely elevates your romantic appeal.

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copied it from the lyrics I found online and didn't give any thought to the spelling or punctuation.

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the fact that English speakers used to treat -ed as a separate syllable on most verbs. (A lot of Shakespeare doesn't scan otherwise.)

"Unlearn'd" was probably the lyric author's (or transcriber's) effort to indicate not to pronounce "unlearned" that way, as it's a rare verb we still do that with sometimes (except for verbs ending in "d" or "t", where the ending would otherwise not be distinguishable.)

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Wow, it's an interesting adventure. I'm glad he made it at least as well as he did.
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I hope to re-read the twitter thread to better understand some of his choices. Some are the limitations of available options, of course, but some are just puzzling.
- northwest out of Philly to King of Prussia to head south-southeast to Delaware?
- relying on pre-Pandemic schedules and Google? Can't imagine why not agency apps, as clunky as they can be.

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I hope he read "The Old Patagonian Express" (1979) by Paul Theroux, who traveled from Boston to Chicago on Amtrak and then took public transit through South America. I read it when it came out and I should read it again.

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  • In the United States, public transit schedules are really suggestions. Don't rely on tight connections (especially at stations you don't know well) because you probably won't make them.
  • Resources like Google Maps can be helpful, but they're not always up-to-date, especially for transit schedules. Always review the agency's published schedules and notifications.
  • Always make sure you understand how a system's fare structure works before you throw out your ticket (and get stuck paying the maximum exit fare).
  • Local public transit is designed to meet local needs, not long-distance travel. So yeah, that bus is going to loop through the Stop & Shop parking lot because some folks use it to go shopping.

Most of the U.S. outside of cities doesn't have the population density needed to support public transit with the frequency/coverage needed to make it an acceptable alternative to driving. And the cost of driving/maintaining an old/paid-off car isn't necessarily that much higher (if it even is higher) than the cost of transit plus the difference in rent to live near transit. Sending 20-passenger vans (let alone 40-foot buses) on routes which rarely have more than a couple of passengers probably isn't greener than having people drive.

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