Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tea and Public Transportation

What does tea have to do with public transportation? Other than the fact that I love tea, and I love public transportation, there's not much of an immediately apparent connection, but as I will show,my reasons for loving both tea and transit are actually surprisingly similar. And on a personal note, both tea and transit are areas in which I have worked directly.

Now, I am working in the area of tea, with RateTea. And in Cleveland, Ohio, I worked in operations research for GCRTA, Cleveland's transit system, and I also worked on several projects for a consulting firm, RNR Consulting, which largely specialized in working with transit agencies.

Why do I love public transportation?

Pictured here is the SEPTA Market Street Line, in Philadelphia, locally called the "El" as it is an elevated line at both ends (a subway in the middle):

I love public transportation for a variety of reasons, many of which actually mesh with my interest in tea.

  • A ride on transit allows for time to relax or meditate, in contrast to driving a car, which requires intense focus and concentration, and can be very tiring. Even riding as a passenger on transit is much more relaxing than riding as a passenger in a car -- public transit gives one more space to stand up and move around. I find that, for me personally, there is a lot in common between the state that my mind and body is put into when I drink a cup of tea or take a ride on public transportation.

  • Transit is inexpensive and sustainable. A ride on a bus or local train usually costs between $1.25-$2.00, more for regional trains. If one is able to use transit to live without a car, the savings can be immense. Even if you own a car, like me, you still save money on parking and gas, and in a city like Philadelphia or New York, parking is usually more than the cost of a bus or subway ride. The additional cost of energy and resource usage per person riding transit is negligible...that means, when you ride an already running bus or train route, you add little to environmental impact. I find this parallels tea because, compared to other beverages (soft drinks, alcohol, even coffee), tea is inexpensive, and has less of an environmental impact associated with its production.

  • Transit and walking go hand-in-hand. Transit routes rarely take you from door to door (although, I must admit, there is a trolley stop directly out my door, closer to my building than I can usually park my car, so sometimes, I actually get to enjoy this luxury). But, in general, when you take public transportation, you also need to walk a bit. Public transit is thus good for your is by no means essential to a healthy lifestyle, but it can contribute to health, especially if you use transit and walking in place of long car rides.

    In this respect, public transportation is also a lot like tea. Tea is a generally healthy beverage, unlike soft drinks, energy drinks, and other highly-processed, artificial drinks. But it's no magic bullet. Riding a bus can make you walk (and thus exercise) more, and exercise is known to reduce cancer and heart disease risk, right? But you never would suggest that riding a bus will cure cancer or prevent heart disease...and that's I think a good analogy for the relationship between tea and health.

  • Riding transit and loving it requires loosening your expectations. Unless you are lucky enough to live in Germany, buses or trains rarely arrive exactly when scheduled. There is structure and organization to the transit system, but also unpredictability. I think this is a lot like the world of high-quality loose-leaf tea. If you are satisfied to drink the standardized products like Lipton, products whose consistency is maintained through extensive quality-control processes, then you always know what you're getting. But if you want single-region or single-estate, single-harvest teas of specific varieties, you will need to loosen your expectations. The same tea will not taste the same each year...each year it will be different. And a similar style of tea or grade of tea may taste radically different from one estate to the next, or from one region to another. Yet the pattern is still evident: the teas are still recognizable as their style. Just as the bus still gets you to your destination, even when it is late.

If you're coming to Philadelphia:

If you're coming to World Tea East, you're going to be lucky enough to be located right near most of SEPTA's major routes. While there's certainly plenty to do within walking distance of the convention center, you will also have access to most of the city with a direct transit ride, in case you want to go somewhere a little farther away.

A few tips: (1) the "transit" feature in google maps is outstanding in Philadelphia. Type in the info that you would to get directions normally, but then hit the little bus/train icon, and google will calculate the best routes to take using transit--usually giving you a few different options. You can ask it for immediate advice or schedule a trip in advance. (2) SEPTA's website has lots of good information too.

No comments:

Post a Comment