I live 75 miles from the Pentagon and 72 miles from the center of Washington DC. I know this because I make these drives several times a week. In January of 2010, I purchased a brand new car upon which as of today I have put approximately 190,000 miles. That's a lot of driving.
One way to mitigate the miles and the driving has been to use the Metro system. If I drive (63 miles) to the most remote station on the Orange Line (New Carrollton), I can park ($4.00) and then ride Metro the rest of the way. This has been an acceptable alternative, and also somewhat enjoyable, as the last ten miles of the drive is always the worst. When Metro works, it works well. But Metro isn't working all that well these days; there are a lot of unscheduled outages and recently, management put forward a one year plan of rolling service reductions meant to provide time to perform critical repairs and maintenance.
I recently took the repair schedule and wove it into my calendar for the next year, in order to ensure that I avoided Metro routes that would cause problems. In the course of these preparations, I remembered that the Maryland Transportation Authority has a bus service into downtown DC from the Park and Ride on Kent Island, a mere 27 miles from my house. There are two routes with multiple departures before 0700 (the last bus), and then a number returning in the afternoon. At $6.00 each way, the cost seems better than that of either the drive option or the drive and metro option--both of which also involve an afternoon $4.00 toll over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. So, I ordered a ten trip ticket online and decided to give it a test. This blog post has been written and will be transmitted while in transit.
The bus (posh motor coach, comfy seat) arrived right on time and left on time. I aimed at the 0700 bus, waking at 0450, coffee, 30 minutes of treadmill, shower, dress, depart. All the while, I knew that I would be ahead of schedule, but my efficiency provided the opportunity to hop on the 0630 departure--which I did. Will likely not move as fast in subsequent trips....maybe stay in bed another 10 minutes.
This is a commuter bus, and the patrons are professional and well-turned out, not the kind you sit next to on a Trailways bus who pulls out a can of Colt 45 at 0930. People are quiet, and cell phone conversations are kept very brief and quiet, if at all. There appears to be a well-understood system of etiquette, which I applaud.
Fortunately for me, were I in my automobile right now, I would be somewhat perplexed, as there was an accident on the westbound span of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge which has traffic snarled for miles. I however, am sitting comfortably on a bust talking (typing) with you. The actual bus portion of the commute is scheduled for 97 minutes each way, and the drop off/afternoon pickup point is a block from where I have a project for the next couple of months. The prospect of gaining three hours of productivity each day that I commute thusly has me joyous. I make phone calls while I drive, and that helps with business, but in general, my extended commutes have been a net loss. I see goodness coming from this. Will keep you posted.