MasterPo says: This blog is about topics and issues that are of importance to me. I am not one of the countless blogging lemmings that are tripping over each other scurrying down the hill and off the cliff of blogging oblivion trying to write the greatest blog on the latest topic de'jour. Your comments are welcome.

June 11, 2009

Impractical Solutions – Part 1 (The Green Commute)

Go green.

So the saying is anyway.

And one of the ways being touted these days it to take public transportation to/from work instead of driving. Seems reasonable, right?

There's an old saying:

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

If that is so that the first mile has to be paved with this impractical idea. At least impractical for me (and I'm sure millions of other Americans).

My job is 12 miles from my house. I drive to work now which takes me about 25-30 minutes (a lot of traffic lights). And there is ample free (and relatively safe/secure) parking at my building.

I have looked into taking public transportation and will possible it is greatly impractical.

Here's why:

Bus: To get to work by public transportation bus I would have to take 3 separate buses from my home to work (and back of course). There is no free transfer between these bus lines either! The first bus stop is a 10 minute walk from home. There is no parking near by so I'd have to walk to/from the stop in all weather. There is a 5-10 minute walk between stops for buses 1&2 and 2&3. Also exposed to the weather. None of the bus stops have shelters. And the closest stop for bus #3 to my job is another 10 minute walk.

By the way, some of the areas I would have to walk through and wait to change buses aren't the nicest neighborhoods on Long Island, especially in the dark.

If that weren't bad enough, based on the published bus schedules for Suffolk County in order to arrive at work by 9am I would have to leave my house by 6:00am to make the first scheduled bus at 6:20am. That's presuming a perfect scenario day too (e.g. good weather, no traffic, etc.). Likewise, coming home presuming a good work day that I can leave at 5pm on the dot, by the published schedules I wouldn't get home until a minimum of 7:30pm.

To put it another way, my current 45-60 minute round trip commute per day I have now would grow to at least 5-6 hours every day! And that is best-case-scenario. Add in bad weather like ice, snow, or heavy rain, add in traffic, road construction, an accident, and the inevitable bus breakdown and who knows how long it can take!

Train: To take the closest Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) station to my house and get to the nearest LIRR station to my job I would actually have to go in the opposite direction from work into New York City and take a train back to Long Island! (and visa-versa to go home) That is the most direct train path from my local LIRR station to my job. According to the published LIRR schedules the trip is 2 and a half hours long. That would be in addition to a 10 minute walk from my house to the train station. And the closest station to my job is itself at least a 30 minute walk from my building (also through a not-so-nice neighborhood!). So in totally I would be looking at a minimum of 3 hours each way!

It's also important to note the train line that services the closest station to my job is not the most reliable in the LIRR system. It frequently has delays, breakdowns, and even cancelled trains.

Bicycle: Though not public transportation, it deserves mention here too for the same reasons.
Riding a bicycle would require me to bike 12 miles each way. That’s 24 miles a day!

Even in my glorious youth I never road 12 miles in a single day much less 24! Neither is the terrain flat all the way (many hills to climb).

As before, cycling would require riding through several not-so-nice neighborhoods too. And what of the weather? I can't see riding a bike in the snow or a stormy day or the dog days of August.

Public transportation is certainly a good idea. And in some case it is practical. When I work in New York City driving into the city is impractical so the trains in/out is the only way to go.

But I don't work in the city now. And neither do millions of Americans.

There is no reasonable public transportation available to me and them. And there isn't going to be any built. That's reality.

It is impractical.

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Anonymous said...

Beggars can't be choosers.

I know some people in other countries who have to deal with public transportation commutes that take 3 hours one way.

Ya go blame the public transportation agency for not catering specifically to your needs...

MasterPo said...

You missed the point.

Whether it be me or one of 100 million other commuters it is simply not practical to expect public transportation to be able to pickup and delivery everyone exactly where the need to go in a timely manner.

4-6 hours of commute is that much less time I have with my family or to do other things.

There is also the reality that in my car I can stop at store and other errands along the way.

In the name of being "green" I loose freedom of movement and choice. Doesn't sound very advancing of the state of the art to me.

By the way, recent studies have come out showing mass transit is not nearly as "green" as peopel think because it takes the same amount of energy to move a bus of train from A to B whether it carries 1 or 100 passengers. IOW, efficiency is only achieved when the transportation is at maximum capacity. Otherwise it creates just as much pollution (or more!) as any thing else.

ps- What the hell do I care about the commute of someone in another country?! How in Heaven's name does their transportation problems mean that I have to suffer too?!