Reviewing Transit and Lodging, What Worked, What Didn’t on the 30-30 Tour

A brief look at each city, what worked, what didn’t as it related to the transit and lodging arrangements.

Most fans who plot one of these trips will have the option of a rental car in the cities they fly into and for cities where a bus/train option works best, they can just drive that same rental car. So know that this is written from the perspective of a person who cannot drive and cannot have the car as an option of transit in or between cities.

Games 1 and 2 at Arlington and Houston I was with friends, though I did already have a flight booked between DFW and Houston. Had I been doing that portion with no friends, I already knew that I would have to make a choice, stay at a hotel in Arlington with transit to and from the game, while cabbing it to the airport, or staying near the airport in a transit zone and going cab to and from the stadium, Arlington as some will know is in a dead zone and has no public transit, unlike other areas of the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex.

Houston presents a challenge in that while the ballpark and Hobby airport are both in transit zones, Bush Intercontinental is on the far northeast side of town and is harder to get to via public transit.

Atlanta, I stayed near the airport, knowing that I had an early flight the next morning. MARTA does go near the airport and near the stadium, so had I been on a more relaxed schedule in the ATL, MARTA would have gotten me to both areas it does appear. Because I had to be at Turner Field extra early, I did get a cab to the game and the friends I met for this game dropped me off at my hotel, so here it all comes out even in the end.

St. Louis is one of the better stories when it comes to this topic, because a well-designed MetroLink light rail drops at both air terminals and does likewise at bush Stadium. I knew this, so staying at a hotel near the airport and catching the train was a very good option. The ticket machines are not real friendly to the blind, yes they have braille but you don’t know what goes to what button as it relates to the various fare types, a local would know this, not a visitor. I took the train to Bush and I ended up catching a ride with the people I met at this game, though I had originally planned on going back by train.

KC, a city I’ve been to before and one that I knew was another one of those challenges. Neither the airport nor the ballpark are in an area that is well connected to anything transit wise. For this reason, this was a rare case of choosing to stay near the ballpark. Had I been thinking, rather than taking a cab from the airport to the hotel and back the next morning, I would have gone Super Shuttle and saved myself about 80 bucks.

Game 6 at Tampa which I also knew would be a challenge was more about splitting hair. Going from my hotel near the airport to Tropicana, I had enough time to make a two hour ride through three buses from a stop just off the hotel parking lot to a stop just yards from the baseball stadium. The cost for that two hour and three bus ride was less than $10.. Of course this option was not available going back and would have not worked given the late hour, so the 40 minute cab fare back was $50. Fortunately, because I was at a hotel near the airport, it was a free shuttle next morning to the airport for my flight to New York.

Game 7 at the Mets, I landed at JFK and knowing I was on a limited schedule and knowing I had to get to the hotel, I paid the $25 for Super shuttle and worked my way to the hotel on 63rd in Manhattan, then grabbed a bite, then took the subway including a transfer over to CitiField. This same effort got me back to the hotel that night and then it was a short subway ride the next morning to Penn station for the Amtrak to Washington, DC.

Game 8 at the nationals brought my first surprise. I stayed in the Georgetown area of DC, a major part of the city, yet there was no rail stop near the hotel. The shuttle driver was going to drop me at the nearest rail stop but decided to just drive me to Nationals park, very kind of him. Because my transit plan did not work the way I intended in DC, it meant $20 in cab fare back to the hotel after the game, plus $20 each way on Monday, that morning to get to Amtrak so I could go up to Baltimore, and that night so I could get back to the hotel after taking a midnight train from Baltimore back into Washington.

Game 10 at Philadelphia, another surprise. I know Philadelphia has relatively good transit, but I was told it would take more than 2 hours each way to get from my hotel near the airport to Citizens Bank park, so here goes another $50 in cab fare, $25 each way, in a city where I had planned on going transit the entire way.

Game 11 took me back to New York. This time, I was able to use transit to get to Amtrak in Philly, then repeat the process on the subway once in new York. The next morning, I took the subway, to Jersey Transit to the Newark airport for my flight to Boston. All that rush and dealing with the ticket machines in Jersey, I think I would in the future just take the train to Boston from Penn Station. Speaking of Boston, I realized that in this case, my hotel which was not as close to the airport as I thought did not have a shuttle to Logan and it was no easy trip on transit, the trip via the T took a solid hour 20 with a transfer. The hotel did offer a shuttle from the rail stop once I made it there on Thursday, but that service started too late on Friday and so I had to grab a cab back to Logan to get out to Minnesota.

Game 13 in the Twin Cities, here is another case of something well thought out. Like St. Louis, the light rail connects the airport and stadium. Special arrangements in this case with the Twins and others provided me transit between the ballpark and my hotel, but if needed, the rail would have easily taken me from the airport and back where I could link up with a 24-hour hotel shuttle. So like St. Louis, it is a well-conceived system in Minneapolis.

The stop for game 14 has a similar review, here I was with friends all along, but again the rail does connect Chase Field to the Sky harbor airport in greater Phoenix.

Games 15-16 took me to the San Francisco Bay area. Here, I chose a hotel near the SFO airport, if I had it to do again, I would have stayed in downtown San Francisco proper or found something that was closer to the main transit links. While my hotel did offer a shuttle to the airport, it was not easy to find. Add this to the fact it took two trains to get to each stadium, two BART trains for Oakland, a BART and a MUNI train for the game in San Francisco and it became one of the more challenging transit trips, more so than I thought it would be in San Francisco. Their ticketing systems could use some work too.

I knew southern California was not known for good transit, so I was prepared to fight the cab battle for the dodger game, the 17th on the tour. I thus intentionally stayed in downtown LA less than a mile from the Amtrak station, a very smart move on my part. I took Amtrak to San Diego and my friend Liz was my ride for the padres game, as well as the next day in Anaheim. She also saved me a ton of trouble going back to LAX, which I had originally planned on my own. That would have been a hike, though Super Shuttle would have been a reasonable option and I should have taken it to my hotel when I landed at LA two days earlier, would have saved me easily $30.

After my red eye to Toronto, I landed and got a cab to my hotel, which it turned out was not as close to the airport as advertised and they did not offer a shuttle until 7AM, though my flight was in before 6AM and others were already on the ground. Odd that a major international city and a major hotel at such an airport would not offer a shuttle from the airport until 7, all I wanted to do was get in and sleep, so it was worth the $30.

It would have been a very round about transit trip to the game, though I had known forever that I would be with my friend Brenda for this one. If not, I might have made other arrangements and stayed in town and again made use of something like Super shuttle or at least the Canadian version to get to and from the airport.

As I got to Detroit for game 21, I had my shuttle from the airport to the hotel, I knew I would have to get a cab to the game. The regular route is about 15 miles, but a detour greatly added to that and my cab fare, $65 became the total. Detroit I realized like some other cities, does not provide a real good option, either stay near the airport and pay to get to the game, or stay in downtown and pay to get to and from the airport.

Game 22 at Denver, again I met a friend for this one, so I did not have to worry about transit, but having been to Denver before, I knew that there was a light rail that went from the airport and it got to at least a reasonable distance into downtown, so if I had to then go cab to the game, it would not be over a huge distance. My hotel again was near the airport.

Game 23 at Seattle, here another great setup like St. Louis and Minneapolis. I got a shuttle to my hotel from the airport, took that shuttle back to the airport, took light rail to the stadium, took light rail back to the airport, and got a shuttle. Very, well done and the machines were completely accessible, best marks of the trip are for Seattle in this respect.

When I left for Milwaukee, I prior experience told me stay near the airport and just get a cab to the ballpark, no real good option exists otherwise. So I did so and for the most part, it went off without much trouble.

Cleveland worked out a lot like Seattle, I stayed near the airport and my hotel turned out to be right across the road from the rail station. The train dropped near the ballpark and if I went there enough, I’d eventually know the route so well I would likely not even need a hand and could guide others there in the dark.

The next day which would be game 26 in Cincinnati, I took a cab because this day was a bus trip. I’ve told the story about that crazy driver, let’s just say he ran a closing draw bridge. I’m glad I didn’t become cold in Cleveland. Once getting to Cenci, I was in a good situation, the hotel, bus terminal, and ballpark were all close to one another. I knew to do it this way because I’d already planned to bus back out the next day for Pittsburgh.

The day of game 27 at Pittsburgh and the related bus trip was crazy, more an issue with greyhound and lost bags though, once in Pittsburgh I met friends for this game. So I did not have an experience with the Pittsburgh transit to truly get a feel for what would work better, staying near the airport, or downtown near the stadium.

For game 28, it was on to Miami. This is an area that has some rail and bus systems, but it is a hard area to stay in. Stay downtown and you have no airport shuttle, stay near one of the airports, you have to get a cab to the game. I ended up staying between the two airports and paid for shuttles to take care of my arrival between the airports and the hotel, but it also meant cabs between the hotel and the ballpark. This was also the one case of a hotel that did not have any Braille markers on the rooms or elevators.

After Miami, it was on to Chicago and what has quickly become one of my favorite cities to travel around in. the transit system, while not the easiest, is set up in such a way where each line seems to have its own route even when it is in a station that it shares with other lines. You don’t have multiple lines using the same platforms, which makes it much easier for me. All announcements are made in a clear voice and it is all automated. If I spent enough time in Chicago, I could get around their easier than in most cities, maybe Seattle stays a notch ahead because of that great ticketing system they have. But I loved Chicago, I mean for $14 on a three-day pass, I had the train from my hotel near O’Hare airport to US Cellular and back, train the next day from the same stop at O’Hare to Wrigley and back, then trained the next morning from O’Hare to Midway for my flights home. All that for $14 and much better service than I had in some cities for $50 or $60 in a cab. If I sound like I was very happy to get to Chicago and say goodbye to taxi services, you would be correct.

The key as I discovered is truly knowing the cities. It’s one thing to know where the better hotels and restaurants are, where to not hang out, Etc. but if you are like me and having to rely so heavily on transit systems, sometimes it seems you might be better off staying near the ballpark, rather than near the airport if you are flying in. If possible and you have a plane or train option, the train may be better in that it is often based in an area closer to the ballpark, unlike most airports that are on the outer portions of the cities and not easily tied into the main transit routes in the heart of town.

IN terms of cities where I used transit, my favorite experiences would clearly be St. Louis, Seattle, Cleveland, Chicago, and New York while Minneapolis, Phoenix, and Atlanta would get good marks. San Francisco and Boston were surprisingly more difficult for me, though not the outright sources of frustration that cities like Kansas City, Detroit, Miami, Dallas fort Worth, Tampa St. Petersburg, and Los Angeles are, because they just are so lacking a good transit system that connects major landmarks in the city.

To me, cities that can always provide visitors with a good transit linkage between the airports, train stations, and bus terminals to major points of interests, stadiums, arenas, symphony halls, museums, and other types of venues, are going to be a step ahead of those cities which lack this necessary capability.

Just my thoughts, any comments?

1 Comment

Hello! This is John McLaughlin, the guy who sat with you for the game at Chase Field. Congratulations on completing the 30 in 30. It is absolutely remarkable how you navigate the public transit. If you recall, I ran trips to all of the ballparks with a van from Oklahoma City from 1992 to 2004. I called it John McLaughlin’s Fields of Dreams Baseball Tours, plural because we went to many ballparks. Did you get to sit with John Smith, the drummer in Cleveland? I have a suggestion for a book title. “There Are No Disabilities – A Blind Fan’s Journey to 30 Major League Ballparks in 30 Days”. Congratulations again! My email address is baseballgames@cox.net. My wife picked out that email address, not me. Hope you are resting up from the grind of the trip. Did it all start running together like I told you it would?

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