© 2010 Aaron IMG00006-20100915-0920

Zug to Baar and Back

Commuting Made Pleasant

I’ve always driven to work. It’s been a routine, and I like routines. With a nearly 1-hour commute each way, I’ve had time to reflect, pray, listen to music and podcasts and unwind on the way home after a long day. So, those are the pros of a long commute. Now, how about the pros of a 20-minute, precise, timely, scenic commute?

I can’t say enough about the fantastic transit system in and around Zug. It’s just so much more developed and punctual than any other system I’ve experienced – from the MUNI in San Fran to the Loop in Chicago. It’s clean, nearly always punctual, and friendly. It’s almost impossible to get lost and nearly as hard to be late. I was told that if a bus or train is even 1 minute late, the Swiss start checking their watches. It’s so true.

Orientation

The system speaks for itself – literally. Listen during the video below and you’ll hear stops called out along the way. Prior to each stop along the line, a chime sounds, then a pre-recorded (precisely punctuated) voice speaks the name of the next step. In addition, an LCD screen at the front of each bus lists each stop in order, scrolling them up the screen until the end of the line is reached. Each list item displays an adjacent number, in minutes, informing riders how long it will take to reach each stop.

Alerting the driver that a stop is needed and getting on and off the bus is all handled with clearly marked buttons strategically placed throughout the cabin and exterior. A few things I’ve learned by watching local commuters:

  • The glowing green button near each bi-fold door on the exterior of the bus is pressed to open the doors.
  • The red buttons placed throughout the cabin are used to alert the driver that one needs to stop at the next bus stop. When the button is pressed a red “Stopp” label appears adjacent to the next stop in the list on the LCD. It’s important to always press the button if a stop is needed, unless the next stop is the end of the line. Drivers typically stop for 5-15 minutes at the end of the line (depending on the time of the day – they stop longer at night).
  • I learned something new today when the driver didn’t open the door for me at my stop. Those red buttons also open the doors when held down.
  • Each bus stop has a map of the system and departure times for each day of the week and hour of the day. So, it’s easy to tell when the next bus will arrive at the stop.

The buses even hydraulically slope down to the curb at each stop.

O.K., so maybe I’m just way too impressed with the system, but I really do enjoy it. I suppose that’s due, in part, to the fact that I’m somewhat directionally challenged – it’s hard to go wrong here!

Conclusion

Now I can stop feeling guilty about being one of the many millions of cell phone users out there who text, check email and generally get way too distracted while driving. I can enjoy the distractions, and scenery, in the comfort of modern transit.

Comments

  1. Marie
    Posted September 17, 2010 at 9:38 pm | #

    And mass transit is SO much safer if you were texting and sending emails.
    Someone recently told me of a bumper sticker:
    HONK if you love Jesus
    TEST if you want to meet Him! =)
    Love the blog Aaron.

    • Marie
      Posted September 17, 2010 at 9:39 pm | #

      oops!!! I meant

      TEXT if you want to meet Him.

  2. Posted September 18, 2010 at 8:31 am | #

    I suppose, since, as believers in his saving grace and people who seek his will in our lives, we often “meet” him when we’re challenged by life’s tests and challenges, the latter was true too 🙂

    (and that’s quite the run-on sentence – oh well, it’s a blog)

  3. kelly
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 11:18 pm | #

    okay, so i’m thinking this efficient way to travel is also the way to go out in the evening and enjoy a libation….or 2….. or 6…..or….
    tee hee hee ……. just remember where you live or better yet, have it tattooed on your….your….um….your whatever it is that would be considered legal there….. tee hee hee …….remember arron, still waiting for that photo request ( my comment from the day you posted the lovely evening scenes… i think… )…. wish i was there with ya’ll ….. maybe ya’ll gotta check into that teaching / drama director position… hint hint ….

  4. Janalee
    Posted September 21, 2010 at 5:04 am | #

    excellent! continue the precise note-taking so you can design the american version on your return! i would use it! …how do they keep it so clean!?

  5. Posted September 21, 2010 at 9:44 pm | #

    Kelly,

    Ah, yes, the photo request. But, we haven’t made it to the local McDonald’s yet! JJ

    We’ll have to get up to Germany for a good brew! In this area the non-locals have a nickname for the beer. It’s called,”Swiss P _ _ s.” I’ll let you fill in the blanks. Hangman anyone?

    Personally, I’ve enjoyed the local brew – in small quantities and only under adult supervision – Kim’s!

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