A day on public transportation

As an international student living in Baltimore without a car, I've had plenty of opportunities to experience public transportation in Baltimore firsthand. Here's a full Saturday spent traveling about the city, your own vehicle not required:

9 a.m. I walk five minutes from my Charles Village apartment to a bus stop and wait about 15 minutes before taking the No. 3 bus down to the Inner Harbor. It's a bright, spring morning, and on the bus, I strike up a conversation with a fellow traveler. An automated voice announces each upcoming stop with mechanical regularity. The bus makes a stop along the way to pick up a man in an electric wheelchair. The ramp rolls down, beeping loudly as it does. A couple of passengers in the front relinquish their seats and put them up so that there is room for the man to park his wheelchair. As we turn onto Pratt Street I press the yellow magnetic strip to signal that I want a stop. The ride downtown takes 20 minutes.

10 a.m. I get some hot chocolate and a large brownie at the Barnes and Noble coffee shop. I settle down with some magazines and the latest fiction books and enjoy a morning of quiet reading near the harbor.

12 p.m. I wait about 10 minutes for the water taxi by the National Aquarium and ride to Fells Point. The ride takes less than 10 minutes. I get some ice cream at Maggie Moo's and lemonade from a local vendor, then take a walk up Broadway.

12:30 p.m. I get lunch at an Egyptian restaurant, take a short stroll back down Broadway and take a water taxi back to the aquarium.

1:30 p.m. I walk to the light rail stop at Camden Yards. Light rail trains are very regular and run every 15 minutes. A train soon comes along and the automatic doors open. I step on. I'm heading north to do some window-shopping in Timonium.

4 p.m. After a good stretch shopping, I'm tired and about ready to head home. But first I'll stop and get some groceries on my way. So I take the No. 8 bus down to Towson Town Center and load up my shopping cart at Trader Joe's.

5 p.m. So many choices, so little time. I'm finally done at Trader Joe's, so I walk out to the bus stop. I figure I might as well ride for free this time, so I wait for the Collegetown Shuttle. It arrives soon and I climb on, showing the driver my student indentification. The bus takes me right back to Charles Village.

6 p.m. I unload my groceries, and then collapse onto my bed and take a nice long nap for the evening.

Overall transportation cost: $3.50 for MTA day pass plus $8 for Water Taxi = $11.50

Overall traveling time including walking and waiting at stops: about three hours