In this third post on car-free living, let’s explore using transit (bus, trains, or bikes) to get there [*] for shopping trips.
[*] There is Where?
“There” in this article is the shopping mall or individual store/s you’re interested in visiting. If trying to go to several store/s (not collectively in a mall), the added issue of “Can I get from Store A to Mall B to Store C in the time/method used arises.
Transit (and Capacity) Planning is Key!
When you’re using a car, you’re able to freely drive when/where ever you want; the limit is the merchant/s’ hours (and your willingness to drive the miles/hours necessary): Are the store/s you want open when you’re there? With public transportation, you have additional issue/s: “Does my transit method get me there [*] and back home during the times of service? Do I have sufficient space (armload, backpack, cart, etc.) to carry my package/s back?” In certain jurisdictions (DC; Montgomery County, MD; among others) the bag tax may encourage the individual to bring bag/s (instead of paying $0.05/bag), so the further question of “Do I have enough bag/s for my purchases?” is another consideration.
Mall vs. single store; Lists are helpful
Given the planning (and amount of time needed to use transit), individuals will probably prefer to use a shopping mall with a variety of store/s offering the items desired over individual stores to move between. A shopping list (or awareness of who sells what [and at what price]) are more necessary for the transit rider than for the driver who can whimsically go where s/he wants.
Transit Planning Help?
As in the previous article, you can use the printed maps by your service/s of choice if offered, an app (or two/three) or both.
Some services (like WMATA) offer developer API’s so that they can encode route planning on web pages, new applications, etc. Despite the openness of the services to help you get there, few web pages feature encoded trip planners, so you’ll need to put in your starting position and then cut/paste the destination/s you’re interested in on the service’s trip planning page or application.
Transit will get you there (and back) with planning, time and patience.
Ramona Winkelbauer is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.