How Are We Getting There?

Getting somewhere in Paris is fairly easy – between metro, bus and feet.  And yes, in a pinch, Uber.    (I use Uber instead of taxicabs because, as a French minister put it last year during the taxi strikes against Uber, Uber offers perks like polite customer service. [really, he did say that customer service was a PERK!]).

You just have to be prepared to wait.

And wait.

And even wait some more.

Although when my sources say 30 minutes for a bus, no, I don’t wait.  I change my plans.

“Sources?” you ask.  Sounds like backroom connections to RATP (the company that runs the Metro and bus lines).  Nope, just a smart IPhone.  Smartest app for multiple cities is CityMapper.  But in Paris, I do like the RATP app itself.  I can see when the next two buses will arrive at the stop I am at.  And I can see if there is that dreaded “deviation” or if the stop will be “pas deserver” which means it won’t be stopping there today.   It will also tell me the final destination.  Doesn’t that sound simple?

The bus goes from Point A to Point C.  Mais oui –but this is France.  In the middle of the bus ride, the conductor can suddenly shout back to the passengers (nicely but loudly) that the new destination is Point B, somewhere on the way to Point C but not all the way.  And so when we reach that stop, everyone meekly climbs off the bus and then waits for the next one.  Sometimes you can know of a destination change from the bus number sign on the front and side of the bus.  It will have a diagonal across it – top half in normal color for that bus and bottom half black.  That is supposed to draw your attention to the new destination that is now marked on the front.  No longer Point C but now Point B.

I have favorite buses.  Before I leave my apartment, I will check when the buses arrive at stops near my apartment.  Hmmm – can I make it to that stop in 5 minutes? But the next on is 25 minutes – ok, how about bus 73? Any better?

I really prefer the bus – may be slower but you can see everything going on.  But when the bus timing is lousy, I then opt for the metro.  You can be pretty sure that the next metro will be between 2 and 4 minutes.

But have your walking shoes on!  If you are changing metro lines, you might have a real hike between platforms.  Some changes like between Line 1 and Nation at Etoile is just steps.  Same for Line 1 and 4 at Chatelet.  Others feel like miles.  I love the signs in Chatelet-Les Halles which tell you it is a 6 minute walk to Line 1.  Except it continues to be a 6 minute walk after you have walked 1 and 2 and 3 minutes.  I guess they just made one sign and used it multiple times.

So I wait for the bus.  Or for the metro.  And I wait while on either.  And I give up my California need to be there quickly.  And I think about what I see, embrace life in Paris, create fabulous blogs in my mind that never quite make it to paper.  And smile.

Footnote about RATP Group or Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens, a public transport operator based in Paris, France.  It is state owned.  But it’s a HUGE enterprise:  the RATP’s Paris operations are still a major part of the business, its operations have now extended to include businesses around the globe. These include involvement in the operation of bus, tram, rapid transit and inter-city rail services, located in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.” Wikipedia.

Almost 60,000 employees.  And here I thought it was just a subway…