Outside of the attractions, what made my first time in New York a successful trip was the amazing the public transportation system. As a disclaimer, I have never used the metro in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, or the light rail in Charlotte although I spend time in each city. How? Because I have been scared of looking like a tourist and I am just comfortable driving anywhere I need to be.
But in New York, driving was not an option for me. While staying with a friend in south Brooklyn, I was able to walk a block to a bus station, take the bus to the train station, ride the train to Manhattan, and walk across the Ward’s Island Bridge to Randall’s Island. Buying a metro card made everything easy because both the buses and trains used the same card.
Here in Winston-Salem there is talk about installing some kind of rail system. Some argue that a public transportation system will allow more people to get into the city and reduce driving downtown. Others argue that a rail system will be too expensive and divert money from other areas. This isn’t the forum to take up that debate, but the ease of the bus/train system in New York making the entire area much more accessable than I ever could have imagined.
And, because travel was so easy I was able to attend the Puerto Rican Parade in Manhattan. The level of organization in the parade route, the volume of police to monitor the event and keep the peace, and the overall safe atmosphere in Manhattan was really impressive. City and government officials seemed very organized despite the massive size and scale of the parade.
For all the negative things people say about government, it is really cool when it works and New York’s public transportation system is a great example of government working for the people.