Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tossing It Out Tuesday: How's That Commute Working For You?

              Do you commute to work?  If so have you ever considered public transportation?  In some places such as smaller communities and primarily rural areas this may not be an option, but the traffic problem is probably not like it is in an urban area either.  For those of us in the city though, the traffic can be not only a nuisance, but also can be detrimental to our heath.

               Most of us own a car or even two or more vehicles.  In most locales it is almost a necessity to have some sort of personal transportation.  If you live in an urban area like New York City, vehicle ownership may be cost prohibitive.  In these settings public transportation is a given--nearly everybody is using it.  In the more sprawling areas like Los Angeles, Miami, or Houston commuting in one's own vehicle is more the norm.  But perhaps some of the economic factors should be considered.

               On the average, owning a newer vehicle will cost the owner $400 or more per month once you have factored in payments, insurance, registration, gas, and maintenance.  Additionally some drivers who are commuting to a workplace may be paying highway tolls and parking, which can be up to $100 per month or more.  This can all add up in a years time to $4000 or even much more than that.

              Carpooling can be a great option for some, but it's not always a practical solution.  If you have easy access to a public transportation line or are near a park-and-ride lot, commuting in this manner can save a considerable amount of money.  Monthly transportation passes are less than $100 in most cases.

              Now some may argue that riding public transportation is inconvenient.   So you might have to walk a few extra blocks--the exercise can be beneficial.  You do have to run on a schedule, but that is not so much a matter of inconvenience as it is adaptation.  Consider that you are no longer wasting time behind the wheel sitting idly in traffic.  Now you can read, do paperwork, or even sleep.   And if you enjoyed the traffic time for listening to the radio or books-on-tape or whatever, you can still do that while being able to relax and really concentrate on what you are listening to.

            Other arguments may include having to ride in unclean vehicles or with undesirable people.  When's the last time you took public transportation?  My most recent experiences have been rather positive.  The trains and buses that I have been on have been well maintained and clean.  As far as the people, what can one say?  You never know who you might meet and this is a time to learn some tolerance.  The public transportation is a microcosm of the city streets, the businesses, and your place of work  The people come and go and we deal with that everywhere.

           One of my main concerns is getting some of the traffic off the streets and highways.  Does everybody really have to be there?  Most of the cars I see on the freeways usually have only one person in them.  I very rarely drive on the freeways, but when I do I am amazed by the amount of traffic and I'm quite sure most of those cars aren't just there like I am for a casual jaunt.  I am pretty sure that many of these drivers are commuting.

            I've been fortunate in that I've never had more than a five mile ten minute drive from home to office since I've lived in California.  I have occasionally taken the trains to go to places like Hollywood and downtown L.A.   This has been my normal approach when I've had out of town visitors who want to go there.  There's no traffic and no parking hassles to worry about.  It's fun and convenient.  If I had to work in any of those areas or any other areas accessed by public transportation, that would be my ride to work--forget driving.   If you are familiar with Los Angeles traffic or the congested messes of any other urban areas you probably know what I'm talking about.

             Tomorrow I will be giving you my report on my recent tour of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority's light rail system.   My Thursday Debate Day topic will be focusing on light rail as a transportation option.  Whether you have had experience with light rail or not, I hope you will weigh in with your opinions about this mode of transportation.

              If you have more than one vehicle and have the public transportation option, would you be willing to consider tossing out a vehicle to use that option?   Do you use public transportation now?  Have you had any experience with public transportation?  What are the positives and/or the negatives of public transportation?  What transportation options do you have in your community now?   Do you have a good public transportation story that you would like to share?



29 comments:

  1. I'm a really keen walker, so I do my best to walk to work in the mornings (although I leave the house at 5:30, I have little choice, hehe). I don't drive so public transportation is my mainstay. I think I'm starting to use the whole "it's better for the economy/environment if I don't drive" reasoning to justify my lack of motivation to drive.

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  2. As I don't work anymore I walk most places within reason. I may get a taxi if I am visiting my daughter or catch a train if visiting my son as he lives about one and a half hours away. If I want to visit my youngest son I have to catch a plane as he lives in Spain,
    The Good Lord didn't give us wings so that's how I get around.
    I prefer walking especially along the beach as it's healthy and good to be out in the fresh air.

    Yvonne.

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  3. I used public transportation long time ago, and for the most, was a good experience, except when sometimes I had to do some walking to get to my place of destination, or when sometimes I had to ride with unpleasant people. Now...my vanity will speak. Since I like to dress up for work, and that includes high heels (not really that high, just a bit, to make up for my petite size) walking is not my preferred activity when heading to work. I walk and workout in the mornings or after work :-)

    Now, seriously, we are way too spoiled...!

    Doris

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  4. Just seeing that first picture up there makes me eternally happy that I can walk to the university. I could also use public transportation, but it would require changing buses/subway, and actually it doesn't take any less time. So I'm happy to walk (even though you will hear me complain about that too - like today, when it rains...)

    Besides, I don't have a car!

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  5. I live in a small city and the longest 'commute' I've ever had at any of my jobs was less than 15 minutes. :)

    Currently my hubby drops me off at work in the mornings and I walk home - unless the weather is horrendous in which case someone comes to rescue me. It's about a 40 minute walk - perfect way to transition from work brain to family brain. :)

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  6. Having lived in several major metropolitan areas I have enjoyed using public transportation. Now, living in a rural area, we don't have the luxury of hopping on a bus or train without driving almost 45 minutes to get to one. You're right Lee, using public transportation is a considerable yearly savings versus auto upkeep, plus I hate being stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. My preference - "take the bus and leave the driving to us." :)

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  7. I have always tried to live a short (20 min or less) commute away from work.

    Until I moved back to CA, I always used a bus to get to work. I hated driving because my crap cars were always breaking down. And I hated driving in the snow when I was in NY.

    Once I moved to CA, and had a good car, I opted to drive since my day started before the buses were running and/or had 3 or more changes making my commute an hour and half one way that would be 20 min by car. My time was worth more.

    I liked it best when I could commute by bicycle. That was ideal!!

    We need a better system like Europe has. They put us to shame. I love the system over there. A large percent use public transit. Its reliable, covenient, much more so than in the US

    Sig

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  8. I commute. My bedroom is upstairs ... my office is down :)

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  9. As you know my country is small and poor so we mostly use public transportation, but our cities also aren't so big so we can even get from our homes to the centre of town on foot. But if I remember the data correctly my whole country of Vojvodina lays on the area which is approximately the size of New York City :) While I was on college I found train travel from my hometown to the capitol of Vojvodina quite difficult even though it lasted for just two hours. I guess that's the commute time which many people in USA cover daily. But then again you have amazing superfast and clean trains, while ours are pitiful.

    When I go to the centre of town going out or going shopping I can cover the 20 minute distance on foot so I guess that's a blessing in today's modern world of cosmopolitan areas.

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  10. Another advantage to public transportation. You can talk all you want on your cell phone and not scare a single other driver.

    Well currently my city only provides a bus service, which is constantly changing due to budget cuts. When I did work it was 3 miles away, did I walk? No, I had to go through a bad part of town.

    Good post, Lee. I admire your conviction. :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

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  11. We only have one car. I would definitely consider public transportation if it were an option. First, the Lord would I trust provide a job, and second the route was available.

    My last two years of work had only a 4 mile one way commute. Right now I walk four feet across my back porch and another 5 or 6 feet across our patio and in to my study where I look for work full time, write my blog, study my bible study lessons, and prepare to preach in a couple of weeks.

    This commute I could get use to if it came with little things like, salary, and medical.

    My wife uses PT all the time. She loves the convience - no driving, no hunting for parking, or no traffic. Even if I am availabe to drive she will just hop on the bus at the corner and take a day for herself shopping, etc. She has actually met a couple of older Christian women on the bus whom she has become good friends with.

    I haven't had any experience with P. T. since I has always driven to work. My last job required you to drive to work, not car pool nor even a motor cycle since you were required and reimbursed to do company business in your car.

    The positves are obvious - less cars on the road = less traffic, less polution, less hassle, and saved operating cost on vehicles.

    The negatives - routes don't always run where you would like them to. they are often late in their routes. Hard to do full shopping and carry everything home.

    We have the bus here in Longview, WA. Portland (50 miles away) has light rail. My relatives commute from Vancouver, WA to Portland on the light rail. My cousin got stuck in Portland when the system broke down - that would be a hassle, stuck not only out of town but out of state.

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  12. Jamie--Your "better for the economy/environment" justification is good reason for walking, but the health benefits are probably even better.

    Yvonne-- the walk along the beach sounds nice. If I were closer I walk along the beach more. I once took one of the trains that said it ended in Redondo Beach, but it didn't go anywhere near a beach at all--it wound up in an industrial area so I stayed on the train and went back to where I started.

    Doris -- You could wear walking shoes, and change to your high heels at work. But I guess you are wear other nice clothes as well so I can understand not wanting to walk too much in your case.

    Cruella -- When I was in college I almost always took the bus, walked, or hitchhiked. I sometimes drove my parents car to events at the university in the evenings when parking wasn't a hassle, but I didn't own a car until after I stopped going to college.

    Jemi -- That 40 minute walk is approximately what is recommended for daily walking exercise so that's good for you. It might be tough in the winter weather though. I love those short commutes. My wife's teaching job is 28 miles each way and requires a good bit of freeway driving. It usually takes her an hour or more each way. She's in a district that pays extremely well so I guess it's worth it in the monetary sense.

    Paula-- Sitting in traffic can really be a waste, but there's always talk radio. Like in your situation, unfortunately the public transportation is sometimes not a practical solution.

    Sig -- I prefer living closer to work. I've heard that the European system is quite excellent. I think some places like New York area are pretty good and even certain areas of L.A. aren't too bad, but there is so much sprawl that there can be a lot of impracticality.

    Carol -- Poor pitiful you. Now that's really what I prefer.

    Dezmond -- U.S. has "superfast and clean trains"? Well, that is, if you can find them. I guess for some destinations that holds true. Maybe in the future it will get better, especially since flying is starting to suck so much.

    Jules -- I am convicted in my words and idealistic thought, but not so much in practice these days. Maybe eventually though when the situation calls for it.

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  13. Gregg -- You certainly covered a lot of pros and cons, and you and I have been in similar circumstances in the past and have a very similar situation now. If you live less than 10 miles from work it's often much easier and practical to drive. A person has to weigh it all out and figure out what suits them best. I'm hoping you and I can both find a good income and benefits and maintain our current situations. I really like commuting from one room to the next and going downstairs for meals and coffee.

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  14. I used to commute to work. 1 hour each way. Doesn't that bad does it? Well if I lived in L.A. it would be a hell of a lot worse.

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  15. I no longer commute into the city, but if I did, the train is the option for me. I can also take a boat, which is a lovely alternative. Whenever I go into the city, I refuse to drive...mostly to avoid the traffic...but as you state, commuting has other benefits.

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  16. "U.S. has "superfast and clean trains"?"
    :)) well compared to ours which don't go faster than 20km per hour, yours are like rockets :))

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  17. Public transportation isn't much of an option here, but fortunately my commute isn't far. Now the trains and tubes they have in England rock!

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  18. Growing up in Chicago, I used public Transportation quite a bit. The town I live in know is a small one. Only cabs! So I use the car.
    I remeber what a trip it was to ride those El trains in Chi Town!! Love Di ♥

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  19. I think LA has to be one of the worst places to drive! I would definitly learn to take public transportation. we have little of it here where I live and most everyone drives everywhere, There is a bus but not very nice.

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  20. I don't have a J-O-B, but anything speaker or author related is always at a distance - and involves a long drive. I rack up about 30,000 miles a year on my little SUV...

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  21. There is no public transportation in my town at all. It really is a pity. Although we are building more bike and walking paths.

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  22. our closest public transportation is a mile away in the form of city bus. we make full use of public transportation when traveling to other cities and countries. it's more economical to do so. it's insane to think every taxi driver is honest and is going to take you someplace quickly and by the shortest route.

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  23. I live out in the country with absolutely no public transportation. The few times I ride into the city I often wonder how people can stand to do that every day. We do carpool where we can.

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  24. When I lived in South Florida, I had to fly to Puerto Rico four times a year for my job, but there was no way I'd ever drive from Boca Raton to Miami, and shuttles were not that comfortable. When they installed the Tri-Rail train, I loved it and used it for every trip.

    After we retired, we gave up one car and have had very little trouble coordinating our schedules. I'm the one who uses public transportation when there's a conflict, though. I enjoy it (another opportunity to do a little people-watching).

    Patricia

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  25. edlund -- One hour sounds bad enough for me.

    Liza -- Taking a boat sounds pretty cool.

    Dezmond -- Wait til we get those bullet trains.

    Alex -- Maybe Yvonne can tell us about the trains and tubes in England.

    Diana-- I've ridden the els in Chi-town before and it was pretty cool.

    Terri --- Bad traffic is bad anywhere. The buses I used to take back in college werent' that nice but I dealt with it.

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  26. L.Diane -- Reminds me of my days on the road. I love it!

    Debbie -- Well, there is something good to be said for bike and walking trails.

    Bud -- I guess you can never tell about those taxi drivers in other countries-- just gotta trust them I guess.

    Susan -- Public transportation in the country doesn't work so well.

    Patricia -- I used to love watching people when I rode the bus.

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  27. I used to have to travel to work via train and bus. It took me an hour and a half each way every day. The plus was that I got heaps of reading done. The minus was when it rained. ew. Or when there were delays.

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  28. Hi Lee .. when I lived in London I took the bus or the tube, when I was in Johannesburg I drove. Now I drive around Eastbourne (smaller town on the south coast of the UK), but get the train to London - it's not brilliant .. simply because it's full, it's smelly, not too clean and noisy .. I suffer it - because driving (stress levels) would be worse & the expense exorbitant!

    I do look at public transport more often .. because of congestion on the roads .. but locally it's ok ... - thanks Hilary

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  29. Lynda - That's a pretty long commute. It's a good way to set aside reading time.

    Hilary-- Maybe your train to London is heavy rail, which tends to be noisy. Although I do like those trains as well. Sounds like you are in a similar situation to those in the U.S. who live in outlying and rural smaller towns.

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