Trends: Navigating Public Transportation Using Travel Apps
Traveling by yourself is somewhat liberating, and a test of your abilities using today’s technology. A recent trip to Savannah, Georgia for a few days gave me new insight into what is available by using a multitude of apps.
I have found BART an efficient way to get to San Francisco Airport, bypassing commuter traffic and extreme parking fees. There is a BART app that gives you the location of your train by touching a station on the transit map on your smart phone. As of January 1, 2018, there is a $.50 surcharge for printing BART Blue tickets. Buying online in the future may be the way to go to save some cash and avoid lines of less than savvy travelers at the ticket machines.
My United app allows me to book flights and keeps me posted on real time departures, gate changes, the rare upgrade and even onboard entertainment. A lot of United’s planes have phased out cabin and individual screens, relying on the passenger to use their own devices. Through the United App, I watched the movie The Greatest Showman On Earth on my iPhone. This was a bit of a comedown from the big screen, but kept me occupied for the four-hour connection through Chicago.
Checking arrivals and departures can become addictive, especially when there are close connections and different terminals. Chicago O'Hare is the fifth busiest airport in the world, considered a Mega Hub. This status is defined by the highest ratio of possible scheduled international connections to the number of destinations the airport offers. It also has a great food court, which I had to bypass on this trip, as I literally ran to the boarding plane from Concourse B to Concourse F.
Upon arriving at 9pm in Savannah, I decided to forgo using my Uber App in favor of hailing a cab. Although my experiences with Uber have been positive, it can be a bit creepy when you are by yourself at night in an unfamiliar area, getting into an unmarked car. I made my way to the cab line and was assigned a driver almost immediately. Usually, there is some help with your bag or at least the door but not with this guy.
Even though I had been traveling for nearly 12 hours, I tried to engage the driver in small talk about where he was from, how long he had been a cab driver, the Savannah weather (which, of course, I already knew, because I had been checking the weather app for days).
Steve, I discovered, was alone in the world, as his grandfather had just died. He hailed from Brooklyn, but left when his mother committed suicide when he was 17 years old. He came to Savannah because he had a drug problem, and would never know his father because his mother was a victim of rape.
To say the least, I was moved by how sad a state this man was in, and tried to lighten up the conversation, asking about the hotel where I was staying, and because it was late, where I could eat. I joked that the most I had eaten was a bag of pretzels on the last flight. With that, Steve came alive, saying he loved those little pretzels. As we pulled into the Bohemian Hotel, I prepared to give him my credit card and a generous tip. This time, Steve opened the door for me and got my bag out of the trunk. In the side pocket of my bag, I found a bag of pretzels from one of the day's flights, which I casually gave him as he headed back to his cab. You would have thought I had presented him with gold. He thanked me and once again told me how much he loved those little pretzels.
Traveling has lost some of the personal connections from the past. There is less need for human connections, getting lost in the latest app, tech toy or media gadget. My trip to Savannah was a reminder that a little bit of kindness can go along way, even if it's just giving away a bag of pretzels.