Summer Eases Commuter Strain
We printed very brief excerpts on our Sunday commuter page from your letters about the August commute. But I thought you'd like to see the full comments. Notice that our commuters see the summer commute as a chance to break the pattern. Notice also the sense of liberation when they don't have to take transit. They're simply doing what works best for them in these circumstances.
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
I noticed that my commute to work from Germantown was much quicker than usual back in June, as soon as Montgomery County schools ended their year.
The drive to the Shady Grove Metro takes only 15 minutes as opposed to 25 or 30, and I feel like I have options to use as well; I dare not try I-270 during the school year at even 7:15 a.m. I even tailor when I leave home during the school year to avoid school buses stopping traffic to pick up children. And parking is still plentiful even I get there at 8 a.m.
This week, I've actually been driving to my job on Capitol Hill using 270, 495, the GW Parkway and 395. The only delay I regularly hit in the morning is on the ramp to 395; in the afternoon it's on the inner loop on 495 to 270. It's been much faster than I thought, and if I thought it was that way year-round I'd consider abandoning Metro and driving instead because of its recent poor service.
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
I live in the West End of Alexandria and work right by Union Station. I regularly get to work by taking a Metrobus to the Pentagon and then Yellow Line to Archives, followed by a lovely 20 minute walk (well, lovely when it's not 100 degrees outside).
When August rolls around, I check things out the first few days from my bus ride on I-395 in to the Pentagon. When I start to see the regular lanes open up (right around Seminary Road, where they're usually a parking lot) after the first week, that's when I give up public transportation for my car. I can get to work most days in August, in under 20 minutes -- that means I get to sleep an extra 30 minutes each morning. Almost like a vacation in itself!
I find that I'm happier when I get to work, more rested, and not as stressed already worrying about my commute home and if I have to beg out on an evening activity because of my bus schedule. I know, I shouldn't be touting giving up public transit, because it's a good thing. But for two weeks in August, I treat myself, knowing I'll be a little happier because of it.
Oh, and if I do take Metro, it's so nice to actually get a seat on the Yellow Line in the morning. Usually, the trains are packed by the time they get to the Pentagon.
Enjoy your August!
We noted on the Sunday page that during August, there are more vehicles on the highways than at virtually any other time of year, but there is less rush-hour congestion than in any other month. (And in case you missed it, here's a link to the Sunday story by Lena Sun and Jonathan Mummolo about the possibility that Metro will cutback on the weekend's late night rail service and substitute buses to save money. Also interesting was Eric Weiss's story about engineering overconfidence in post-World War II bridge design.)
I hope you can stop by at 1 p.m. today for a Live Online chat about these and other local transportation topics. Use this link to get to the chat. Here's one that takes you to a form for submitting questions and comments right now.
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