An Evaluation of Public Transportation or, That One Time I Went to New England and Couldn’t Rent a Car

Author: Lauren Petrik

Tags: Boston, Exploring, Massachusetts, New York, New York City, North America, Quarter Finalist, USA

1. Airplane

We arrived at the airport at approximately 4:15 the morning of November 11. My mother, my sister and I were taking a couple days to visit some colleges. We were flying into Laguardia that afternoon. As the plane touched down, the music I had playing on shuffle changed to Taylor Swift’s “Welcome to New York”. It seemed fitting, but ironic, a sentiment that would be echoed throughout the trip.


2. Uber

After taking a shuttle to the rental car facility we learned that my mom would be unable to rent a car as planned. So began the great adventure of only using public transportation. We took an Uber to our hotel, dropped our luggage off, and headed to the first college of the trip.


3. Subway

My personal favorite mode of transportation. From being in a completely empty car to traveling during rush hour when you can barely breathe for the crush of bodies surrounding you, the subway is amazing. The feeling that you’re in an entirely different world and could spend an entire day traveling around underground for the small price of $2.75 is extraordinary. I loved riding sitting down, the side of my forehead pressed up against the unspeakably germy metal pole in front of me. I loved riding standing up, bracing my feet for the violent movements. And though the subway is terribly intricate and confusing, we found that people are generally helpful.


4. Walking

Our own two feet carried us most of the places we needed to go. They took us around the campus of Barnard College, to a dinner of sliders and pasta, and to Times Square and Broadway, where we made a spontaneous decision to see Phantom of the Opera. After that they carried us back to the subway and then our hotel. The next day we walked south towards NYU, streaming along with all the commuters and being sure to observe that cardinal New York practice: jaywalking.



5. Taxi

After a great tour at NYU, a fantastic lunch of crepes, and the most confusing subway trip yet (we took a detour to the Bronx), we visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art, ate a dinner composed mostly of desserts, and then turned in early. We woke at 3 am in order to take the subway to the Greyhound station, but ended up taking a taxi instead after passing a group of cabbies.


6. Greyhound Bus

We arrived at the station at the suggested 4:15 am, however, our bus ended up being overbooked, so we had to stand in line for an extra 45 minutes to wait for the next one. Despite these delays, the ride from NYC to Boston wasn’t so bad, if you overlook our bus driver almost getting into a fight with one of the passengers.


7. Train  

The next leg of our journey took us on a train to a suburb of Boston. After going to the wrong train station, we settled in for a half-hour ride to Wenham, where Gordon College is located. As we rode I remember thinking about the irony of this trip. How if I actually went to one of these colleges I would know exactly how to get around. It was ironic, but also fitting, that on the edge of becoming an adult I would learn that life is not a smooth airplane ride, but a series of jerky subway trips, confusing train stations, and tension-filled bus rides.