Friday, October 26, 2007

Not missing the commute

One of the big incentives for me moving out of Houston was the commute. These days, I get in my car, and I get to work within 15 minutes. It's 20 minutes or so with traffic, and I get to park in front of my building. More importantly, I know that if for some reason, I have to make a run for it to get my daughter in school, that I can do so in a timely fashion. At any rate, Docuticker had a post highlighting "where the commuting nightmares are." The post leads to various articles from BizJournals, one which includes rankings in 65 markets. Houston ranks #54 on that scale. And by the way, as if I needed less reassurance, it turns out Texas ranks #24 in a national survey checking to see who could pass their DMV test if they took it today. For the curious, yes, I passed the test. Would you be able to pass the test. Take the test here.

Given the nightmare on some days, I wonder if Houston could not have ranked any lower in terms of commuting. In my case, I used to take the commuter bus, which did diminish the boredom effect since I could read while I was on the bus. Unfortunately, between waiting for the bus and the overall not-so-good service of METRO, I don't really think it made up for not driving. Well, the gas saving was good, but when it comes to stress and aggravation one has to wonder if the gas saving really makes it up. While I would like to believe in public transportation, the reality is that as long as it remains erratic and unreliable in various markets, you are just not going to convince people to use it. This probably explains why most people prefer to drive to work, even if it means driving alone. The Census document, referred to in the press release I linked in the previous sentence, makes a reference to Houston as having a lower rate of public transportation use than other smaller cities. Having taking rides in METRO, I can see why. And let's not even consider their accident propensity. I will say I never rode a bus that had an accident, though I rode in at two that did break down on the road.

Stories and documents about long commutes catch my eye because I spent three years in a nightmare commute. People who live in cities often cite the amenities as the reason to be in the city. But, if you live out in the boondocks and then have to commute anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour and a half each way every day (my commute was about an hour on average each way, when it was good), the last thing you want to do on the weekend is get on the car to go back into that city to do whatever amenity sounds like fun. So, if it works for you, more power to you. I am not missing it. I do miss the fact there is no Half-Price Books nearby. Oh well.

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