Long Distance Commuting Happiness?

Is this you? Do you commute out to some distant suburb well beyond the DC Beltway? Can I ask why? And how?

Why would you subject yourself to at least an hour each way, 40+ hours a month, of traffic. How, once committed, do you physically and mentally make the journey? By bus? Car? iPod?

And here is the deeper question: do you enjoy it?

Back in the day I commuted to Old Town by car, and while I detested the drive overall, speeding across the 14th Street bridge, windows down, music blaring, while a jet roared overhead, was often a highlight of my day.

6 Comments so far

  1. ajw93 (unregistered) on May 9th, 2007 @ 9:09 am

    Well, I don’t do it anymore, but when I lived in Herndon and then Ashburn for five years and change I did the commuter bus thing. It was great…I drove one mile to the pickup spot, hopped on the comfy coach, and went right back to sleep. The bus didn’t stop till Rosslyn, just a few minutes before it was time to get off, so there was a built-in alarm clock. In the evenings I’d usually read.

    On the down side, it left me really “punching the clock” to get out of the office at night and my job can be less than conducive to that sort of activity. It was also a bit expensive, but the tradeoff in extra snoozing, extra reading, and no stressful driving made it worth every penny.

    When I moved back to Arlington five years ago, I started taking Metrobus to work and what do you know, the commute took the same amount of time. Still getting home a bit more than an hour after leaving work, but traveling only 5.5 miles.

    Now, I live in Alexandria, still taking Metrobus. Today, however, I was late so I had to drive…boy, that six miles is stressful. I would have been imprisoned due to road-rage had I driven to work from the ‘burbs each day. I mean, if you have to do the commute, why give yourself a heart attack? Take a nap instead!

  2. Hy Hy (unregistered) on May 9th, 2007 @ 9:23 am

    A co-worker of mine lives in Baltimore and takes the MARC back and forth every day. I can’t even imagine it. And I complain about my 45 minutes spent on the subway each way…

    I met someone the other day who said that no matter how you get to work – bus, train, walk, drive – it always takes the same amount of time. That is possibly true.

  3. Ingen Angiven (unregistered) on May 9th, 2007 @ 10:45 am

    If you ride a bike, you can get around relatively quickly through rush hour traffic. The key is to live SOMEWHAT close to where you’re going. Obviously biking can start to get problematic once you get more than three or four miles away. Two miles or under is best… quick comfortable bike ride that doesn’t leave you exhausted and sticky.

    Housing choices are key. I don’t know why people don’t choose to live near where they work if at all possible. The extra cost for housing is worth it for the extra time not spent commuting.

  4. Wayan (unregistered) on May 9th, 2007 @ 10:59 am


    I could not agree with you more. I bought a house near to downtown so my commute will stay short.

    Its 3 miles from door to door – I can bike or run it (the latter including a stop at the gym to shower), and there are plenty of public transport options that take less than 30 minutes.

    I want to enjoy my home, not long for it while in a car.

  5. Mo (unregistered) on May 9th, 2007 @ 11:46 am

    I suppose you don’t have kids. It’s great for kids out here in Loudoun county. Great schools, plenty of ballfields, lot of outdoor space and what not. It’s worth the sacrifice, they are the future of the world.

  6. Ben (unregistered) on May 9th, 2007 @ 12:30 pm

    Love it. Seriously – part of it is that I just have to take the bus for about an hour and 10 minutes, but really, it’s about the fact that I’ve got a great house to come home to and don’t have to tussle with road rage. It’s also a great time to actually read a book.

    The cost is higher, sure, but given the overall overpriced nature of the downtown scene, and the fact that commuting from inside the beltway is often just as long (let’s face it, taking the metro from King Street versus driving in/taking the bus from Sterling is not that much difference in timeframe), it’s an easy tradeoff for me.

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