I wait for the bus after work almost every day with the same hand-full of people. One of them enjoys a 2 hour commute to and from work every day. Today however it could have been closer to 3 hours because our bus just didn’t show up. This gave me an opportunity to learn more about Mr. Not Worth It because we had to walk to the train station. It was easy to start a conversation because we see each other almost every day and we had the common ground of the late bus. However, before this month my auto-pilot would have put my headphones in and powerwalked to the train pissed off because the bus was late.
Mr. Not Worth It takes an express bus into South Station, then he hops onto the Commuter Rail, and lastly there’s a bus that takes him to work. When all is said and done it is about 2 hours each way (not quite an extreme commuter as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, 3+ hours each way, but close enough). When one part of that trip is off schedule his commute easily takes 3 hours or more due to crucial missed connections. I asked him why he doesn’t just drive or move closer to work. He said that he used to live near work but just didn’t dig the suburbs because it dies around 6pm every night and there’s nothing to do. So he chose to endure the long commute in order to live in a place he enjoys. However, one could argue that he gets to enjoy it much less considering 4 hours of his day are taken up by traveling. To each his own I suppose, I don’t blame him, the suburbs suck. As my good friend once said, “The suburbs combine the worst parts of living in the city and living in the country. There’s nothing to do and you can’t shoot guns off your porch.”
Occasionally Mr. Not Worth It does drive into work. When he does, it takes around 1 hour 15 minutes. That’s if and only if there aren’t any issues with traffic (and there’s always something). He said it’s simply not worth it to sit in traffic for more than an hour. He finds driving an incredibly mind-numbing experience and that he’s more stimulated taking the train. He’d rather take the train for two hours and be able to nap, eat, read, people watch, etc. According to him the drive to work offers nothing but NPR and a dozen radio stations full of garbage morning talkshows. He’d rather read a novel on the train. I know how he feels, I’ve read something like 20 books over the past year and a half on the train, it’s great, I feel so well read. I wouldn’t have gotten the same mental stimulation over the past year if I had been driving (I’m currently reading: Accidents in North American Mountaineering 2000 as well as The Count of Monte Cristo, both are very different but both are very awesome in their own way)
With that being said, he also gets his commute 100% subsidized by his employer making it attractive financially as well.
I looked it up and the monthly pass for his route to work is somewhere around $230. I then asked him if he would still commute via public transit if he had to pay for his pass totally out of pocket. He said that he’d consider it if it were 50% subsidized but if it were 0% then he would definitely drive. The fact that the commute is free is the major reason Mr. Not Worth It commutes via public transit, adding a minimum of 45 minutes to his trip, compared instead of driving.
Today with the late train he had to walk .25 miles, take the commuter rail, take the subway, then wait for a local bus instead of the express which he missed because of the first late bus. All in all, 3 hours later he returned home. Makes me appreciate living downtown and the convenience it provides.