I have to confess, I love driving my car. Driving allows me the freedom to go wherever and whenever I want to go. There’s nothing like pushing your foot against the gas pedal and feeling the engine carry you forward into your future.
But I’m starting to appreciate the freedom of using public transportation, too. There’s a sense of satisfaction in knowing you can get where you’re going without navigating heavy traffic and keeping both hands on the wheel and both eyes on the road. I learned this early in life when I spent a lot of time on public buses in St. Petersburg to get to work and college.
Mass transportation is better for the planet in so many ways. I’m encouraged by research and development happening right here in Central Florida that will improve the transportation industry around the nation and in other parts of the world, including a new partnership between Orlando-based taxi service Mears and rideshare pioneer Uber.
By coincidence, I found myself writing the cover story for this issue from Scotland, which is miles ahead of Orlando in multimodal transportation — at least for now. I wrote the lead from a ferryboat between Wemyss Bay on the west coast and the port of Rothesay on the Isle of Bute. The Caledonian MacBrayne ferry terminal is located in a train station originally built in 1865. The ferry system is a well-oiled machine, sticking to timetables that expand every April to additional summer hours. Inside the ship, tables and chairs in the lounge areas offer the perfect place to catch up on your computer while you watch the beautiful coastline along the Firth of Clyde out the picture windows.
I wrote another part of the article on a train to Glasgow. ScotRail carries you from all over the country, through Scotland’s seven cities, to Glasgow Central Station. From there, you can walk to the Glasgow Subway, the third-oldest underground metro system in the world after those in London and Budapest. Or you can head to one of 57 stands at Buchanan Bus Station, where you can catch a commuter bus to the nearest village or a coach that takes you on a multiday excursion.
On the train, I sat at a table and connected my computer to onboard Wi-Fi while I watched farms, villages and lochs pass by. ScotRail’s website says traveling by train will help you reduce your carbon footprint while saving you time and money. It lists these additional benefits:
1. Never get stuck in a traffic jam.
2. Go really fast with no risk of a speeding ticket.
3. Read a book or newspaper, gaze out of the window or have a nap, with no danger to you or any other passengers.
4. No need for a map.
5. Stretch your legs without accidentally braking or accelerating.
6. Enjoy beautiful views out of the window.
7. No need to find a parking space, or worry about parking tickets.
8. Eat and drink without having to break your journey at the motorway services.
9. Concentrate on your work, not on the road.
10. You’re in safe hands — rail is nine times safer than car travel.
I wrote the last part of the cover story aboard a Virgin Atlantic flight coming back to the U.S. Through Wi-Fi on the plane, I could get online and learn more about the airline’s founder, Sir Richard Branson, who is one of the financial backers of the Florida train operation that has rebranded from Brightline to Virgin Trains USA.
Somehow it all tied together. And when I made it home and got back into my car, it made me think about how it will feel to eventually jump on an express train in Orlando. I look forward to writing while I’m commuting to Miami or heading back to the airport for new adventures.
I, for one, can’t wait!