I will get on the bus a block from my New York home and get off mass transit at the Golden Gate Park BART station. Come with me!
Is it possible to travel all the way across the United States, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, using only mass transit?
It is. Maybe it wasn't five years ago, but it is today. I created a map and an itinerary. As a long-form journalism piece, I intend to prove this, reporting on local characters, local heroes, the current state and potential for mass transit and any breaking news that crosses my path along the way. So on the morning of October 19, 2015, I'll get on the NICE N32 bus in West Hempstead, New York, and get off the BART #21 bus at Golden Gate Park 68 days later (Turns out to be Christmas Day -- nothing I planned.) I'll be posting videos here to illustrate all this in more detail but here are the highlights:
1. Whenever possible, use ferries, cable cars,trams, or some other unique, local feature. 2. Use subway/metro/el trains if available. 3. Use local bus routes as a standard mode. 4. If there is a coverage gap getting from one metropolitan area to the next use the following choices, in descending order of preference: Something that’s going to make a good story, like a mule, an open-cockpit plane, a carnival caravan, a Mexican smuggling rig or a boxcar full of hobos; public ride-share or vanpool services; privately offered ride; hike. 5. This isn’t a race. I’ll be happy to find out if it’s even possible. 6. I will travel no more than two hours on any one day -- although I would have to allow for the possibility of traveling as much as three under extraordinary circumstances -- and I will stay the weekend wherever I happened to be.
1. I don't have to have all the details worked out to start (although as of this writing I'm well on my way). 2. I will remain open to advice from local residents, friends, supporters, transit experts and anyone else who has better information than I do. 3. I should always know my route and timetable a week in advance.
WHAT TO PACK, WHAT TO WEAR
1. I’m not a character out of Steinbeck. I’m more like a character out of Seinfeld. I’ll wear cargo pants, polo shirts, seasonal jacket and hikers most the time. 2. I will travel light: a backpack and a computer bag. 3. It is my intention to spend as many nights as possible indoors. I will rely on travel web sites or local referrals to secure accommodations. Still, I will bring a sleeping bag, mat, pup tent, backpacking stove, gloves, wool socks and synthetic underlayers. I hope I never need any of it. 4. Sneakers and shorts are a must. So are a couple paperback books, a deck of cards, ear buds, and a smartphone to plug them into. I also anticipate the need for a button-down shirt and nice linen blazer. 5. This MacBook Air is also making the trip.
PAYING FOR IT
1. There will be photos, videos, interviews, tweets, blog posts and, I expect, published articles. These will be published to a blog, a Facebook page, a YouTube channel and Twitter. 2. The success of this enterprise depends on observation and interpretation. I will be observing and interpreting: oddball characters, genuine heroes, mass transit issues, mass transit options, "Only in America" pieces, things that only happen to me or only I notice, self revelations and whatever news breaks in front of me. I might end up a witness to history by sheer happenstance.
Risks and challenges
This is inherently risky. I'm going to be on city and county buses for two-and-a-half months, sleeping on strangers' couches. I'm a 52-year-old man who'll be taking 20-mile hikes through the desert. And I'm relying on over a hundred different drivers to be on or close to schedule or else I get stranded.
Stuff will go wrong. Best I can do is craft a workable schedule with a bit of lag time baked in and try to keep running ahead of it.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)