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February 18th, 2019

Transit adventures and kerfuffles

I wanted to go race in the CRASH-B Indoor Rowing Championships held at Boston University on this past Sunday*, so last Friday or so I sent a message to teammates to see about potentially carpooling. Nothing came through from that due to everyone having complex lives and schedules, so I shrugged my shoulders and booked a car through rentalcars.com via kayak.com. I mention sites by name for some specific reasons, which I'll get to in a minute. Foreshadowing.

This was for a rental car from a Thrifty location near the airport. Next step, figure out transportation on Saturday over to the airport to pick up the car. Because the Goog Map disbelieves that a person might be willing to walk up to a mile, and because the Goog Map disbelieves in multi-modal transportation, it will only come up with a subset of options when monkeying around with various logistical parameters. So I had to use it in combination with our regional transportation organization's website to sort things out.

Thankfully, I finally managed to find a workable version of a system map for our regional transportation organization - one that shows all the routes plus the route numbers. So then I used that information to deduce that there are three bus lines in total that serve the airport. Then I searched through the online bus schedules to figure out how often each one runs, to figure out which transfer point would be the least likely to cause extensive headaches in the event of any hitches in the plan (i.e. I wouldn't want to miss a bus that only comes once every 1.5 hours). You'd think there's an easier way of working things out here, but the transit organization's trip planner function just brings you straight back to the Goog. Hah!

That settled, I walked a mile to Central Ave and caught the first bus, a "RapidRide" or what-have-you Express Fancy Bus that makes only limited stops between points, and which (swiftly) took me up to our regional mall and transit center, Colonie Center. The walk out to the first bus took about the same amount of time but cost $1.30 less than the Goog's suggestion of a triple-bus trip. Then I took the second bus to the airport, after a minimal wait of 5-6 minutes. Smooth for a transfer.

Upon reaching the airport, I discovered that Thrifty isn't among the kiosks at the baggage claim. Eventually someone informed me that there was a shuttle over to their rental facility. After waiting outside for that for a while, I thought it prudent to try calling to see how long I might expect to wait. A voice recording informed me that they were only open Monday to Friday, leaving me rather perplexed (i.e. extremely irritated) as to why rentalcars.com had set me up for a rental on a Saturday afternoon**.

So then I walked back inside the airport, went to the Hertz desk, and rented from them instead.

On Sunday, the drive to and from Boston was really beautiful. Lots of beautiful ice formations on the rocks along the side of the road, and the white snow in the hills and forests around the interstate looked just lovely. Traffic was minimal, especially at 6 am on a Sunday morning.

I was tremendously grateful for the power of GPS devices in Boston, as my Boston navigation all went smoothly and seamlessly and delivered me swiftly to a parking space in a parking garage. Got the car parked, did the erg race, met with a couple of people, then drove straight back to the airport to drop off the rental car so I could avoid having to pay for a second rental day.

There was just one slight hitch to this plan: I've determined that on Sundays, there's a grand total of about 5 buses that pay a visit to the airport. I returned the car at 4:30 pm, so the next city bus wouldn't arrive until 11:30 pm, and I needed to get home to finish grading lab reports and to write Monday's lecture well before then.

Options at that point were to take a taxi, use "sharing economy" transport, phone a friend (don't have that kind of friend here right now), or walk. My dislike of forced conversation/social interaction with complete strangers is high enough that I opted to walk. It wasn't THAT cold or dark or snowy.

What I learned on my walking departure from the airport: there's an airport access side road that is MUCH more pleasant than the main road because of much lower traffic volumes. That was great up until the side road curved in the wrong direction, and then I had to forge my way through the roadside underbrush for an uncomfortable stretch. In the future, however, I think I can take advantage of an airport Economy Lot shuttle bus because it also runs to a hotel that's on the corner of the intersection where the sidewalk finally starts up. The shuttle runs frequently and would cut off ~1.5 miles of the 3.8-mile walk.

I also learned that bus route 1 runs along Central all the way out to the Trader Joe's on Wolf Road, which cut off another 0.8 miles of that part of the walk. Bus route 1 takes me within 1 mile of home, so in total I only had to walk 4 of the 8 mile total distance between home and the airport, the trip only took me 2 hours total as compared to the 1 hour on Saturday, and I only had to pay for a single bus (no transfers out here, I have no idea why not).

In the future I will probably rent directly from the Hertz location along Central Ave that is close to the credit union and that is only a 2.4 mile absolute walking distance from home, unless I decide that I absolutely must arrange a vehicle rental transaction for a Saturday afternoon and/or Sunday for some reason. By what I've just outlined, you might infer that there are multiple reasons arguing against such a rental in the future.


*Argh, my time was ~5 seconds SLOWER than the erg race the weekend before. I just didn't feel quite right. But at least it's done and now I have strong motivation to work to do better.

**I gave the company a phone call after I got home Saturday evening. We shall see whether they actually follow through with issuing me a refund. I'm leery of ever using that service again.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1281799.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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