How "Eye" Get Around
I went to high school in Tempe, Arizona where a significant teenage milestone was getting a driver’s license. This process started at 15 with a learner’s permit, and most students had a valid driver’s license at the age of 16. Meanwhile, I stayed riding the school bus. It was a bittersweet time. While I was happy for them, I remained one of the few students who did not get a license. However, I did have a lot of options on who to ride “shotgun” with.
Not having a driver's license
Growing up in an area where public transportation was scarce meant I had to rely extensively on my friends and parents to get around. Ultimately, this led me to develop some valuable co-piloting skills, including being a great car DJ.
Making life decisions
Mobility often translates into a sense of independence; with my visual impairment, mobility, often in terms of transportation, is a constant theme in how I make big life decisions, such as moving, buying a home, and so much more. For example, after graduating from college at Northern Arizona University, I moved back to Pennsylvania. While several reasons factored into this decision, one of the most influential was that public transportation is often easier and more accessible in a metropolitan area.
This was evident and played a role in my graduate career at West Chester University. I had to commute from West Chester to West Philadelphia several times a week for my internship. It was about an hour and a half, one way. Although it was such a long commute, I felt a sense of independence because, with public transportation easily accessible, I didn’t have to rely on others to give me rides.
Living near public transportation
Another way that transportation has played a role in my decision making was when I began to look for housing. Due to the fact that public transportation is my primary mode of travel, I strategically searched for housing that was near bus and train stops. On occasion, I reach out to family and friends to take me to places that are difficult to get to via public transportation. However, I rarely use Lyft or Uber to get around.
Public transportation is part of my lifestyle, and with this particular aspect of my lifestyle, there are several pros and cons to not being able to drive.
Economic benefits of public transportation
The most obvious positive aspect is that it is not a huge part of my budget. I purchase a weekly bus pass for $25.50. However, I do not have certain automobile related bills such as car payments, insurance, or gas. In addition, I do not have to worry about the time or money it takes to maintain regular oil changes, brake checks, new tires, and other maintenance requirements.
Saving time with public transportation
In addition to the financial perks, I do not have to worry about the weather. For those who live in the four seasons, this means snow. When people are waking up early to defrost windshields and shovel out their cars, I can spend that extra time listening to my motivational videos or working out at the gym!
Health benefits of public transportation
Lastly, there are health benefits to not driving. I get regular exercise because walking is part of my day-to-day routine. In addition to physical health, there are mental health benefits too. There is a special social aspect of public transportation; therefore, I meet interesting people all the time.
Disadvantages of public transportation
Despite the many positives, there are some challenges to consider. Using public transportation often means having to prepare/plan ahead of time. I don’t have the flexibility of just getting in my car and going to my destination. The other challenge I have experienced is that public transportation can be scarce, particularly in more affluent areas. A notable experience for this is when I signed my son up for swim class in a neighborhood with limited public transportation. The process of getting there involved lots of train and bus transfers.
My daily life
All in all, public transportation is part of my day-to-day routine. Growing up in an area where I had to rely extensively on others to get me places, I am appreciative of the independence I've gained and maintained due to access to transportation. As I have grown and my roles as a mom and professional have expanded, I realize that this plays a role consciously and subconsciously in my decision making, at least that's the way eye see it!
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