Subways in the north country?

Many of us put a lot of miles on our vehicles doing the work we do in rural communities. Here’s an outline of the circle I made yesterday: I started out in old DeKalb (near Gouverneur on this map), drove to Potsdam (via a convoluted back roads route because of lengthy construction delays on Route 11), then on to Route 11B and Nicholville, where I cut over to Santa Clara, Paul Smiths and over to Saranac Lake and then Lake Placid. First appointment completed, I went back to Saranac Lake, then to Tupper Lake, and followed Route 3 to Wanakena. Second appointment completed, I continued west on Route 3 to Route 58, and from Gouverneur back to DeKalb. That’s a big circle.

I have a few friends who refuse to own a car, even in the north country. But their work and daily life commitments never require more than 10-15 miles travel–doable on a bicycle.

I was born and raised in Manhattan–great subway and bus access. The lack of effective, affordable (and economically viable) public transportation options is one of the few negatives about living in a rural area. At a minimum, a more extensive local public bus system and–big dream here–a reclaiming of the passenger rail system that used to service the Syracuse to Plattsburgh corridor would be wonderful. Here’s a link to an interesting organization that addresses the challenge of rural transportation.

Here are a couple of photos of where I went, who I saw yesterday…

In Lake Placid, I met up with Sarajane DeHoff, who is active in a variety of Adirondack cultural and community groups, and Cali Brooks, the executive director of the Adirondack Community Trust–with whom NCPR partners on several projects.

Cali Brooks and Sarajane Dehoff–in the middle of Lake Placid. Okay, we may not have subways in the north country, but we sure have beautiful places for meeting venues.

In Wanakena, I went with Kristin Rehder to see her exhibit, The Way to Wanakena, on display at the Wanakena Ranger School through the end of the month.

Kristin V. Rehder, in Wanakena.

Back to regional transportation…

Any ideas about how we can get around more efficiently…more efficiently than each of us driving everywhere in our own personal cars? Any stories about how you or your friends and colleagues have found ways to beat the one person/one car equation?

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8 Responses to “Subways in the north country?”

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  1. Snowflake says:

    Public transportation works very well when it is convienent, efficient and relatively inexpensive. Thus, shuttle bus service in resort areas do very well because private vehicle use is expensive, inconvienent, and inefficient. The same goes in cities. When transportation schedules don’t match the transportee’s schedule you lose the convienence. When the only way you can make your meeting at 9am is to take a bus or train the night before and stay over night it becomes expensive both in monetary costs as well as personal time costs. Since I travel extensively I try to coordinate my meetings and other appointments together as to not waste a trip so to speak on one particular thing. Thus a medical appt in Plattsburgh or Burlington also turns into a shopping trip for items not readily available at home and/or car appt for service or another family members dr appt also. But the reality is that I can go where I want to when it suits me with my own private car. That is an independence I will never want to give up.

  2. stillin says:

    I think of all the car dealerships up here and I want to puke. We have no choice if we commute! so many do, have to! If there was a commute system and I think of London’s clickety clack underground ( their commuter rail system) and I loved it. We wouldn’t need all these car dealers because we wouldn’t necessarily need a vehicle. Yes they are freedom but they are also a pain, upkeep, gas, insurance, and up here in the North Country everything wears out sooner due to the elements. I believe it is intentional to never have a workable system , if we did, nobody would need to buy these 20,000 consumer goods. I would take the clickety clack in an instant…relaxing and leave the driving to someone else.

  3. stillin says:

    I think of all the car dealerships up here and I want to puke. We have no choice if we commute! so many do, have to! If there was a commute system and I think of London’s clickety clack underground ( their commuter rail system) and I loved it. We wouldn’t need all these car dealers because we wouldn’t necessarily need a vehicle. Yes they are freedom but they are also a pain, upkeep, gas, insurance, and up here in the North Country everything wears out sooner due to the elements. I believe it is intentional to never have a workable system , if we did, nobody would need to buy these 20,000$ consumer goods. I would take the clickety clack in an instant…relaxing and leave the driving to someone else.

  4. Ken Hall says:

    Snowflake says: “But the reality is that I can go where I want to when it suits me with my own private car. That is an independence I will never want to give up.”

    A concept as American as “apple pie” instilled by the marketing forces of the Big Three starting shortly after the end of WW II; “See the USA in your Chevrolet …..”. Likely to become more and more difficult to realize in the not too distant future as more and more humans in China and India buy into the “lets hit the highway” paradigm and the price of fuel in the USA approaches and exceeds the costs in Europe, Japan, …..

    Far less expensive than subways would be to reintroduce passenger rail service; unfortunately, North Country folks, as well as most of the rest of the USA, decided a long time ago that personal automobiles were far more convenient and that tearing out the tracks to create snowmobile trails, or what ever, was far more economically stimulating.

    Taking the long/thoughtful view is not the average homo sapiens modus operendi i.e., global warming, current great fauna die off, greatest ever depletion of fish/forests/minerals/oil/all of Earth’s resources. These destructive processes are being driven by, exponential human population growth in concert with our desire for an exponentially growing economy which is created by wresting the Earth’s resources from her with no regard for future inhabitants.

  5. Snowflake says:

    I grew up in an urban area replete with bus and train service ad nauseum. Happy to use it to travel to major cities but I got to tell you I really enjoyed driving across country taking the small country and mountain roads and meeting the people of small communities along the way. Mass transit is for the masses. People who don’t want the freedom of driving their own vehicle, whatever their personal choice may be, have the option to move in to urban areas and live with the masses. I live in the middle of the ADK park and manage to drive mine less than 18,000 miles a year. Nobody makes you live here. You have a choice.

  6. tootightmike says:

    I don’t think any sort of public transportation will solve Ellen’s problem. The need to get to two random locations in the Adirondacks…in September, just ain’t gonna happen unless you drive it yourself. This doesn’t make mass transit irrelevant though. Public transportation systems are built where the public needs them. The more people there are needing service, the more likely someone will set up a service.
    The former passenger rail service would be so nice here in Canton and Potsdam. Imagine how different it would be if ten or twenty thousand students arrived by rail, and brought only their bikes instead of all those cars. Imagine how easy it could be to get to the airport in Syracuse…especially on a winters day just before the holidays.
    Tally up the savings in fuel, the reduction in greenhouse gasses, and heck, the savings of fabric that goes into all those great big pants.

  7. C. J. Aldrich says:

    Gosh, I’m surprised at this article. I was born and raised in the NYC metropolitan area and am quite familiar with mass transit; trains, buses, subways. When I moved here I did not drive or own a car and managed quite well on shank’s mare. Now I drive and when I have to go hither and yon, I thank my creator that I live where I can breathe the fresh air, enjoy the beauty all around me and not have to deal with mass transit. Remember, mass transit means we have masses to move. I don’t want masses around me, thank you very much. I came here to enjoy the lack thereof. I still use shank’s mare and benefit from the exercise. And I’m in no bloody hurry to get where I think I want to go. Ellen, be grateful you have the need and the ability to make these wonderful trips and quit whining.

  8. Ellen Rocco says:

    CJ–Mass transit isn’t always perfect, particularly not in this country. I must say I was blown away by the RURAL options for public transportation in Japan…large, high-speed trains operate between big cities, with subway-like intra-city trains. But as you move outside of large cities, there are stations–gradually stepped down, as are the trains–to accommodate even the most remote communities. My son lived 75 miles outside of Tokyo, up in the mountains and there was a 3 or 4 car train that went to his city. To go even further out in the boonies, trains still available, often just a single car. And bus connections between villages, towns and cities abound.

    Not whining–worrying about the impact of all our personal internal combustion engine vehicles trashing our environment. Cars make rural life, in some ways, LESS kind on the environment than city dwelling.