When I lived in the Bay Area, I would wake up at least 2 hours before my shift starts, get ready, and drive 5-10 minutes (depending on the time and traffic due to the high school near my house and other commuters on the road) to the Hayward BART station. I would park my car in the parking lot and on really bad days I would park on the street hoping to not get towed. Then, I would tag my Clipper Card to get in the station ($4.85) and tag my card again for parking ($1). Then, I would wait a couple minutes until my San Francisco/Daly City train came. If I got on early enough, I would get a seat, read my Bible on my phone, close my eyes (so people don’t judge me for not standing when more people get on the train), and nap for about 25 minutes from San Leandro to Embarcadero. On other days when I started late, I would quickly get on the train and try to get to the doors that separate each train so I would have a wall to lean on and wouldn’t have to touch the dirty handrails. On worse days, my train would be late and I would call my managers telling them that BART is going crazy again. Then, I would get off at Montgomery and walk 2.5 blocks to the hotel. Once I got off work, I would run the 2.5 blocks back to the BART station to catch my train so I wouldn’t have to wait another 15-20 minutes for the next train and tag my card again ($4.85). During normal commute times, there would often be another delay due to maintenance or some other medical emergency. Otherwise, I would squeeze myself in to the smelly and crowded train and have to stand for the next 30-40 minutes until I got back to the Hayward station. Then, I would walk to my car and drive 5-10 minutes back to my house.
TOTAL COMMUTE TIME: 2-2.5 hours depending on traffic & BART issues
TOTAL COMMUTE EXPERIENCE: 2 vehicles each day, sitting (sometimes) + standing, crowded, dirty/smelly, interesting people to watch
TOTAL COST: $10.70+a little gas
When I lived in Pomona, I had the true SoCal work experience. I commuted many miles in traffic. Southern California drivers have no concept of “far.” I remember I had classmates that commuted from Riverside (30 miles), Long Beach (45 miles), and even Palm Springs (75 miles!). It was pretty normal to live in the SGV or OC and go to school or work 30+ miles away. During my 4th year, in an attempt to make some extra cash, I got a job as a spa receptionist at a hotel spa in Newport Beach so 3-4 times a week, I drove from Pomona to Newport Beach. I took 3 different freeways to get there. If I worked in the evening, I could do the drive there in about 45 minutes and back in about 35 minutes. That might seem long, but driving home was actually really nice. It felt extremely relaxing to be by yourself and the radio to think, pray, and decompress. If I worked in the morning, my drive there would be about an hour. Also, my drive home during commute hours were awful. Sometimes it took an hour, but on a Friday, I remember it taking 2 hours! Those were killer drives home. I could have flown back to the Bay in that amount of time. Sometimes I would sleepover at a friend’s or my cousin’s place so I didn’t have to commute. That said, the hotel had a parking lot. it was awesome to get in my car and drive straight to my apartment with no transfers or waiting for a train to come.
TOTAL COMMUTE TIME: 1.5-3 hours depending on traffic
TOTAL COMMUTE EXPERIENCE: 1 vehicle, sitting for 1-2 hours at a time, alone time, traffic
TOTAL COST: ~$10-12 in gas
Okay, so now I live in a city so of course it will be different. However, I do have to point out that many of my friends who lived in The City (SF) and worked in the city still had a 45min to 1 hour commute. But now, I have a lovely commute.
From our flat, it takes 20-25 minutes to walk to where I work. It is 1.2 miles each way. I have yet to take a bus because the weather has been nice and I can’t seem to justify paying £1.50 for such a short ride. Also, it’s quite a nice walk and I get to pass by some awesome places on the way.
As aI leave our apartment complex, I pass by this cute house complete with autumn leaves.
Then I enjoy a wonderful 5 second smell of Coffee from Starbucks, pass by Tesco (a supermarket with almost everything that is still affordable), and Lidl (a German discount supermarket similar to Grocery Outlet or Aldi’s).
As I keep walking, I pass by Edinburgh Festival Theatre and Old College.
Then, I’ll turn onto the Royal Mile and walk down Fleshmarket Close. Fleshmarket Close was basically an alleyway where people used to buy meat.
Once I get out of the close, I end up at Waverley Station, the main train station in Edinburgh. It’s not a crazy as NY Central Station, but I still like walking through it.
As I depart from the station, I’m at the door of the hotel (since the hotel used to be a railway hotel). So fast and easy!
TOTAL COMMUTE TIME: 20-25 minutes
TOTAL COMMUTE EXPERIENCE: 0 vehicles, walking, lots of people, historical & tourist sites to pass, really cold in the morning
TOTAL COST: Free!!!