Train daze: the ups (and downs) of public transporation

Ah, public transportation. I am no stranger to it- in college I exclusively used Chicago's transit system, especially because it was included (or added on to) my tuition. But, when I moved back to the suburbs, I immediately started driving the 35 miles each way, ever day. Part of this was because of how much I love my car, I mean, look at how handsome he is:

Ok, it's not the best photo ever, but I had to use what I had around. Basically, I LOVE driving this car. But I didn't love the 1.5+ hour commute, insane amount of money spent on gas, and general wear and tear on my poor Subie.

It really hit me when I realized I had put almost 18,000 miles on the car in LESS THAN SIX MONTHS! Granted, we had taken some longish weekend trips in there, but still. Watching my odometer go from six miles to 18K was a bit scary.

So, in the new year, I decided to start commuting by train.

Unfortunately, a month after my decision, the rail system decided to raise the rates. Perfect timing. Still, the monthly train pass is still less expensive than gas, parking, tolls, and wear and tear on my beloved car. Not to mention gas priced are slated to rise yet again, so I know I'll be saving money with public transit.

My new routine has also benefited my workout schedule (or lack thereof). While I'm driving to the station from my apartment for now since it is a bit too chilly for a 2.5 mile walk, I am walking the one mile from the station to my office and back every day. Two miles of walking may not seem like much, but it is something. And I power walk. No, not the 80s purple/white/teal-dumbbell-carrying-power-walking, just plain old s&^%, I'm about to miss my train power walking. 

Another wonderful thing about taking the train is that once I get there, I don't have to do anything other than what I want to do. No focusing on other drivers, traffic, or the weather. Most days I read on my kindle, but other days all I want to do is sleep! Neither of which I could do when I drove back and forth each day.

I do have to admit, one downside of public transportation is the occasional obnoxious commuter. You know the one who has to be on his business call at a decibel completely inappropriate for public space? Or the one who, while he does have headphones in, plays his music so loud you can hear it on the other side of the car? Or how about my favorite- Mr. I'm going to bring a full meal (beer included) on the train, eat it with horrendous manners, then leave all my wrappers/can on the floor when I leave? He's a keeper.

While these passengers are awful, I am happy to realize that they are the minority. Not to mention that my train line just implemented quiet cars- there are two cars per train during rush hours where no talking, cell phones, or loud music is allowed. It might sound a bit harsh, but at the end of a long day, the last thing I want to hear is your phone conversation with your "bestie" about your upcoming weekend plans. Needless to say, these cars have become where I spend about an hour and a half of my day.

Speaking of timing, the commute via train takes just about the same amount of time (less if the weather is bad) than driving did. I leave my house just before 8 a.m., and walk into the office by about 9:15, so about an hour and twenty minutes door to door. The same applies on my way home. While my driving commute could take as little as an hour if there was no traffic, it usually took me at least an hour and a half- more if there was bad weather. Plus, instead of spending that time tired, irritated, or annoyed with other drivers/traffic, I spend it reading or sleeping- yay for me!

The only other teensy downside to taking the train involves the last leg of the trip. When I used to drive, I was in my car until I got to my apartment's parking lot, virtually making the trip work straight to home. Now, I have to take the train to the station (which actually passes my apartment), then get to my car and out of the parking lot for the five minute drive home. It doesn't sound like a big deal, but when I'm tired or it's cold, that last ten minutes of my commute is the worst! Especially since the parking lot during rush hour trains is like a zoo- I kid you not people actually run to their cars as soon as the train stops. Not me, no friggen way. Unless there is an emergency, I will be walking to my car, thankyouverymuch. We all get out of the parking lot eventually, so what's the mad rush?

Overall, I am really enjoying the change in my daily commute. Although I do still wish I didn't have to commute so far at all... maybe someday.

How about you, lovely readers? Do you commute by car, by train, or not at all? I can already tell you that those of you who work at home or are retired are going to make me jealous!

Labels: ,