Tuesday, June 03, 2008

On ipods and cities

I've had an ipod in one form or another since 2005, but aside from the occasional non-cycling trip, it never found its way to any kind of regular use. It was only until I got to Munich that I realized that I'm in this unique category of commuters --- the cycle commute at suburban speeds doesn't make it desirable for me to listen to music on my commute. The rest of the world either drives, walks, or take transit, and when I was in Munich, walking or taking transit, I would actually use my ipod for the 20 minutes (each way) that I would walk to work, or the 15 minutes it would take to use transit. (I never used transit to save time, but to avoid poor weather, or to carry lots of baggage) Yes, cyclists in Munich actually do use ipods, but they also aren't cycling at suburban commute speeds.

Speaking of transit, Munich's transit is incredibly complicated, with three fare systems, one for buying one-use tickets, one for buying day tickets, and one for buying weekly or monthly passes. As a resident, you can figure it out, but boy, non-German speaking tourists who don't read guidebooks before they show up are going to have a massively hard time with it. The optimization function for using the transit isn't even easy for a resident to gauge, let alone figure out.

Basically, if you're going to be here within a calendar month, one round trip to the airport on different days will make buying a monthly pass worth while. But of course, if you're jet-lagged and don't speak English, good luck figuring out the machines! Now that answers are completely different if you're traveling in a group, or if your trip spans 2 months, or if you have to be some place before 9am. I have no idea why it has to be so complicated --- like almost all transit systems, the one in Munich is run at a slight loss, and revenue generation should be secondary (since many residents who use the transit just buy the passes and are done with it).
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