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Kira Jewett: A resolution to leave car home marred by weak public transport

To the editor:

I took the opportunity of having children away recently to try a little sustainable-living experiment: I promised myself that, during the entire week they were gone, I would not drive alone in a vehicle for any trip under 15 miles one way.

This meant I needed to bike, carpool or take public transit. I’m in good physical shape, but I was counting on the latter two options to keep from having to bike long distances, in bad weather or with heavy loads. My first test came with a meeting in Holyoke, 12 mountainous miles from my home. I cheerfully checked PVTA schedules, only to find that the best route came once an hour, took an hour and a half with a transfer, and would drop me almost a mile from my destination.

And so I biked — but in the hot weather, it felt like an all-day affair. Two days later I faced a similar quandary trying to hike the Seven Sisters with friends who couldn’t carpool; I ended up biking 11 miles to the trailhead, then tackling the hike. The final blow came when I needed to bring my fiddle to a rehearsal at night and in the rain — I wasn’t willing to risk damage to my instrument, so I broke down and drove.

My experiment left me saddened and frustrated. Though I nearly kept my promise, add children, groceries, time crunches or bad weather and fossil fuel looks like the only option. I also gained appreciation for the difficulties faced by those who can’t afford cars — they must greatly curtail their life experiences, planning their days around a bus or ride for absolute necessities.

I hope a Valley as socially proactive as this can find a way to ensure affordable, accessible, clean transportation for all its residents.

Kira Jewett


Legacy Comments1

Instead of spending over 10 years fooling around with AMTRAK improvements between Hartford and Vermont and the "knowledge corridor" nonsense, PVPA and local towns should have been working on a light-rail system that would have solved many of the challenges that Ms Jewitt articulated. There is a fictional map (sadly now unavailable) that outlines the perfect start to such a system: http://transitauthorityfigures.bigcartel.com/product/northampton-amherst-subway-map

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