Suburban Scenario #1
This is in Wal-Mart. I admit, I assumed a certain level of zero knowledge about things going on in Phoenix, even though this Wal-Mart is located in Phoenix. This is how my first suburban scenario went.
Suburbanite Guy: [I overhear this guy talking about a bus ride on Valley Metro.] Yeah, it took … [something, no idea…] …about an hour to get here.
Transit Sleuth: You take Metro Buses often?
Suburbanite Guy: Yeah. I rode the bus here.
Transit Sleuth: You can take a bus to Wal-Mart?
Suburbanite Guy: Yeah, the stop is right out there in front. It took me forever.
Transit Sleuth: So let me ask you, what do you think of the overall system here in Phoenix. What do you think of the buses and new light rail system?
Suburbanite Guy: The light rail, what’s the light rail? Is that the train thing that is on the other end of town?
Transit Sleuth: It goes from Mesa, to Tempe, to downtown Phoenix, so yeah the train thing.
Suburbanite Guy: It’s stupid, it doesn’t go anywhere. It’s just some stupid Democrat’s plan to control how we live. [I kid not, I am NOT making that up, this dude just spit out the most propaganda generated mess ever.] It cost like 10x as much as anything else.
Transit Sleuth: What would you say that over a 30 year period the light rail is actually less than equivalent bus service, and that the light rail system already has surpassed the most ridden bus route in Phoenix by almost 2x?
Suburbanite Guy: I don’t know where you heard that. Probably some Democrat’s lies. That light rail is a joke. Nobody rides it. I aint never getting on it.
Transit Sleuth: Well, those things I suggested might happen, are actually facts. So does that change your mind?
Suburbanite Guy: I don’t buy it, but if that where the case then I suppose it would be a good thing to add, I just don’t believe it. How can a train be cheaper than a little dinky bus?
Transit Sleuth: Well I gotta run, best of luck on catching those buses.
Suburbanite Guy: Yeah, sure thing.
Suburban Scenario #2
This is a whimsical conversation that consisted of myself and another individual. I just charged right in while at a grocery store.
Suburby Lady: This traffic sucks.
Transit Sleuth: Funny how that works, building bigger roads and suburban development just has more and more traffic.
Suburby Lady: Yeah, its stupid, I don’t get it.
Transit Sleuth: Maybe they should stop building according to suburban sprawl zoning standards and these big massive suburban blocks. Do you think that may help?
Suburby Lady: That’s nonsense, they just need to get bad drivers off the road and make driving work better.
Transit Sleuth: What exactly does “make driving work better” mean?
Suburby Lady: Just so that people don’t do stupid crap like cut people off and things.
Transit Sleuth: So you don’t think making smaller neighborhoods where one could actually just walk to the store might simplify the whole traffic problem.
Suburby Lady: How would anyone carry anything home?
Transit Sleuth: What about maybe building things like Phoenix’s new light rail?
Suburby Lady: Nobody rides that and it cost too much. They spent billions on it and most of the trains are empty.
Transit Sleuth: That isn’t true at all. The train is actually used for about 30,000 trips per day.
…at that point I mention, “well interesting opinion, I gotta run though”, since I realize that nothing new was going to be added to this conversation than a display of a meager knowledge about how one can get around. I would like to think that people that live in a city of 4 Million people would have a better idea about things like this, but this conversation was heading downhill faster than I preferred.
That was the only two conversational bits I had while in the suburbs. Reason being is that Phoenix outside of the cores of Tempe & Phoenix itself, the people tend to be undereducated and uninformed about what is going on in their city, let alone at a Federal or State level. Transit is often the last thing on a suburbanites mind, as they go thoughtlessly badgering along through traffic, angry, frustrated, and often disenfranchised from life and community itself. There are exceptions, but they are rare.
Of course I don’t really need to mention it, but I’ll state the obvious reason why it is physically impossible to get in all that many conversations in the burbs’. There is rarely more than 1-2 people you are passing at a time. Nobody walks around in the suburbs. It generally is a faceless hulk of residential and commercial cookie cutter land. Nobody really talks, unless they know someone specifically. To someone from out of town, it just seems cold and sullen by comparison to a lively urban landscape.
Anyway, more to come really soon. For now, off to catch the north bound Coast Starlight!