Commuter Puzzle: What Should I Tell Her?
Travelers provided some good advice during Monday's online discussion about issues such as the best route to Merriweather Post Pavilion. So when I got this inquiry from a reader, I thought I'd once again consult the group with local knowledge.
She wrote: "If you had to live in Howard County and commute to downtown DC (17th and Pennsylvania), where would you live within the county and how would you get downtown (driving, MARC, etc)? Is Laurel the best commuting-wise? I know 95 and 295 can both be bad during rush hour."
So we're not talking best homes, best schools, best environment. This is strictly a commuting question. And no fair telling her she should live closer to work. She says she has to live in Howard County.
So I'm thinking she should live as far south as possible for a road or rail commute from Howard into downtown Washington. But each transportation option has its drawbacks.
On MARC, if she drives to Dorsey, Jessup, Savage or Laurel on the Camden Line, isn't she going to find the parking areas and the trains crowded? When she gets to Union Station, she'll still have to get to the area west of the White House where her job is. She can take Metrorail to Farragut West, but that means changing trains at Metro Center, for a total of three transfers on a one-way commute. (Okay, she could take the Red Line to Farragut North and walk a little farther.)
There's always driving. If she lived in Columbia, she could take either Route 29 or I-95. If she were on 95, she could take the Beltway west to the Route 29 exit and head south into Silver Spring to link up with 16th Street NW and take that to downtown Washington. That's about 29 miles. I think I'd leave about an hour and a half for the trip.
Any version can be an unpredictable trip. There may be delays and canceled trips on MARC. In my e-mail this morning, I've got 11 service advisories so far about MARC trains. The bus and the car will get stuck in traffic from Silver Spring on south.
I think I might go for the MTA Route 929 commuter bus. It's likely to be a longer trip than driving herself, but at least somebody else is driving, and she won't have to pay to warehouse her car all day long in downtown DC.
Am I forgetting some options, or some difficulties?
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