Friday, October 14, 2011
DC vs. Paris: Part II
People gripe plenty about public transportation in both DC and Paris. The trains are too crowded, they're running too slow, the announcements are inaudible, they fall to pieces at the least change in the weather. Whatever. Despite all the problems, I can't imagine myself without it. I'm just not cut out to live in the suburbs and spend hours in my car, much of the time stuck in traffic.
The Metro system in DC only dates to the late 1970s (some to the 1980s) and it is built deep underground with crazy long escalators and Washingtonians, impatient sorts that we are, rarely just ride all the way down or up. (A hint to you tourists: ride on the right, walk on the left.)
By contrast, the Parisian Metro, much of it dating to the turn of the 20th century, lies just beneath the streets. There are always stairs, rarely escalators, a sore spot for the disabled, the stroller set, and anyone with a suitcase.
Different? Not so much. When I arrived at my destination this week, lugging a rolling suitcase with books and files destined for my new office, what did I confront but a broken escalator. It was Paris all over again.