Busman’s Holiday

“Busman’s holiday” is an expression which refers to when people do the same thing on vacation that they do in their everyday lives, such as plumbers who visit the Museum of Sinks, or villains who disguise themselves even on their days off.

Lemony Snicket, The Penultimate Peril

My Version

I have begun my own version of a busman’s holiday, made up of a series of short excursions in which I sample as many ways of getting around as I can find in New Hampshire.  In doing this, I hope to be able to speak from experience about the different modes of transportation we currently have, and how they operate.

Taking the Train

On Saturday, July 13th, my husband and I caught the Amtrak Downeaster train to Boston from Exeter.  The station has a small parking lot, but as we arrived 30 minutes before departure, we had no trouble finding a spot.


The platform was clean and pleasant, and there was plenty of literature about the train and other things, including the bicycle rental service in Portland, Maine, called Zagster.

By the time the train arrived, on time at 9:00 a.m., there were 35 people waiting to board.

The On-board Experience

The journey was pleasant and quiet.  There’s an upholstered hush aboard the train that let’s you have a quiet conversation with your companion.  If you’d rather stare at a screen, there’s wi-fi available, and an outlet for charging devices.  I did use my smart phone a few times, and the signal was good.

I didn’t visit the café myself, but my husband said it was clean and pleasant, and the staff was friendly.  You can see the menu here.  I shared a ham sandwich with him and it was what you would expect from a snack bar.

We did have a delay getting to Boston, as they were working on the tracks in one section and had one of the two tracks closed, and we had to wait for a freight train to pass before proceeding.  I learned to build a bit more time into my schedule.

Walking in Boston

We were traveling to Boston, along with our two grown sons, to see the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at the Museum of Science.  Thanks to the new North Bank Pedestrian Bridge and the beautiful new North Point Park, it was an easy and pleasant walk from North Station to the museum.  There were plenty of others enjoying the park, walking dogs and playing catch.

North Bank Pedestrian Bridge

We saw lots of people riding Hubway bikes, as well as a rank of bikes to be rented just outside North Station.  I discovered that Hubway users logged one million trips between July 28, 2011 and July 13, 2013.

Hubway near North Station

After a day at the museum, I was pretty worn down from the crowds and the noise, but the walk back to North Station was invigorating, and the train ride back to Exeter was soothing and restful.  If we had taken the car, we would have gone from crowds and noise straight to driving through Boston traffic.  The train was a perfect way to recharge our batteries.

We decided to eat supper in Exeter.  I was able to look up restaurants and make a reservation right from the train.  We drove to The Tavern at River’s Edge, but looking back, it would have been an easy and pleasant walk.

Next adventure:  going to Boston from Manchester by bus!

Electric cars are no panacea

This article in IEEE Spectrum tries to expand the life cycle analysis of electric vehicles.  Here’s the money quote:

Screen Shot 2013-07-12 at 8.36.56 AMIf legislators truly wish to reduce fossil-fuel dependence, they could prioritize the transition to pedestrian- and bike-friendly neighborhoods. That won’t be easy everywhere—even less so where the focus is on electric cars. Studies from the National Academies point to better land-use planning to reduce suburban sprawl and, most important, fuel taxes to reduce petroleum dependence. Following that prescription would solve many problems that a proliferation of electric cars could not begin to address—including automotive injuries, deaths, and the frustrations of being stuck in traffic.

Do read the comment below the article by one of the authors whose study is referenced in the article.  He points us to his blog entry entitled What We Should Learn from a Lifecycle Assessment of EVs in the EU.  Here’s a graph from that entry:


Parking problems…for bicycles???

Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 1.36.16 PM

In a recent Boston Globe article, the author relates a story of how bicycling is becoming so popular in Boston, people are actually having trouble finding a parking place for their bicycles.  That’s a delightful problem to have, because it’s so much easier and less expensive to solve than parking problems for cars.  And bicycle parking problems don’t come with companion problems such as congestion, poor air quality and storm water runoff issues from impermeable car parking lots.

Update on listening sessions

Just wanted to let you know that the final report from NH Listens on our transportation listening sessions went out to the participants on Monday, July 8th.  I’ll be posting it on this website soon, along with a preamble to explain why we commissioned these sessions and how we’re going to use the information from them to help our transportation system better serve everyone in New Hampshire.red bus