The new Sunday column in the Washington Post on page B2, Commuter, today featured two real people and their actual commutes. I could relate to the first one almost exactly. He lives in Arlington near the East Falls Church Metro (I live in Arlington near the East Falls Church metro) and he works in Reston off Sunrise Valley Drive (I worked in a building about 100 yards from his for about 6-7 months in 2006). Pretty much identical commutes. He drives every day. I drove 2-3 times total in the time I worked there.
As in my post from earlier this month about why people don't use transit more, it appears that this commuter has not been able to get good information. He claims in the article that it would require 3 bus transfers to get from his house to his work. Not true--there is an express bus from the West Falls Church metro that goes directly to his office. It would take a bit longer than his drive (at least in the morning), but certainly a viable option if he's trying to avoid traffic coming home. I'm not sure how he compiled the information about the bus, but clearly he was unable to find good information easily.
However, his better option yet is to bike. The ride is virtually entirely on the W&OD trail. From the article:
"What would you rather be doing?
'I'd rather spend time with my friends, go out into nature, do some biking.' "
Why not do both at the same time? That was my way to and from work for the half-a-year I had the same commute. Biking and out in nature. I saw deer, fox, turtles, bats, groundhogs, birds, joggers, other bikers, and other flora and fauna. Sounds like the perfect solution for him. He's spending $50/week on gas (presumably not all just for his commute, though). He could certainly save some of that by leaving the car at home.
The other commuter lives in Waldorf and works in DC. I don't have any similar experiences to relate for him.
Perhaps most telling about why our traffic is so intractable was their replies to this question: "If you could change one thing about your commute, what would it be?"
Both of them replied that they wished everyone else would get off the road or use transit. This seems like a common sentiment (see my most recent post). . . if all those other people would just quit driving, then it would be so much better for me. Rokas Reipa