Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Joys of Commuting

No, the title of this post is not meant to be facetious.

Or sarcastic.

Or ironic.

The fact is, the metropolitan area where I live has an excellent transit system. There are three bus lines I can access, depending on whether I want to walk two blocks or five blocks from my house. In addition, my employer subsidizes the use of public transit to the extent that a annual pass which retails for more than $600 is mine for $282 a year. And best of all, my employer has a FLEX plan for transportation costs which means that $282 is paid with pre-tax dollars. It definitely works for me!

The alternatives are not great. The meters are $1.25 an hour, and vehicles must be moved across the street or to another block every 90 minutes. I do this sometimes, but remembering to move my car every ninety minutes is difficult, and the penalty is a $24 parking ticket. The cheapest downtown parking garages cost $1.25 an hour and require that the vehicle be moved every four hours. Worse, these garages "round up" to the next hour, so if I park there for three hours and ten minutes, I'm billed for four hours. The private lots near my office charge $10.50 a day for "early bird" parking.

It is true that up to $180 a month in parking charges can be run through my FLEX account, but even at pre-tax rates, that's a lot of money to pay just to have an attendant babysit my mini-van.

So, I take the only financially reasonable route--I ride the bus.

The biggest surprise for me is that I love it. And when I have to take my car into work, I find that I miss the busride.

It is 32 minutes to and from my home. People are friendly on the bus, particularly during commuter hours, but they keep to themselves. (I have occasionally taken the bus midday and find the atmosphere then more chaotic but also more entertaining.) Most have MP3 players or IPODs which keeps conversation at bay--which is fine by me.

I generally use the time to read. If I've not been able to take the bus on a particular day, it often means I have missed my reading time for the entire day, which has a tendency to make me cranky. I also use the commute time to figure out menus for the week and to create my shopping list.

I have a firm rule that the time spent during the commute is only for me, so I don't do any office work. That's partly due to confidentiality but mostly because I don't want to!

In the end, having that 32 minutes at the beginning and end of my work day is wonderfully restful. And that, dear reader, is why I LOVE my commute.


yeehaa99 said...

I am also slowly making the move to commute via bus. Slowly but surely....once you figure out the bus timetable in mind, its easy to make the switch.

Sam said...

I have a long commute as well - an hour. I get alot of reading done. I was especially proud when I finished Don Quixote while working PT and attending school FT. It took me about 5 minutes to finish what is now one of my favorite books.

I dislike it when media personalities dismiss commutes as being "bad". They tend to assume that all commuters drive and cannot do anything productive (such as listening to audiotapes of books or language) while driving. I find my commute relaxing.

Sam said...

oops. I took 5 months to finish Quixote, not 5 minutes.

Grace. said...

Well, dang, Beany! I was truly impressed with your speed-reading!

Living Almost Large said...

I drive to the station and commute it. I wonder if it's still considered commuting by public transit?

I also read or listen to music and sleep.

Anonymous said...

Your city must have some very nice buses! I have spent some time on Boston city buses that were extremely smelly and filled with people who were... well, not exactly friendly. It doesn't lead to a lot of confidence in public transportation, because I just want some insurance of safety and comfort while commuting.
Nice job finishing a novel on the bus, beany! That's awesome.

Anonymous said...

In college I had an hour-long bus commute each way to class and while sometimes it was terribly irritating (mostly on the way home), I mostly really liked it. It was good in the morning for when I hadn't finished some reading, wanted a bit of relaxing before class, extra study time, etc.

Now in this tiny college town where I go to grad school my bus ride to class is a mere 10-12 minutes and it's hardly worth it to pull out a book or an article! I kinda miss my long rides.