Talkin’ Transit: Back to the Grind

Photo courtesy of
‘Blocking traffic’
courtesy of ‘theqspeaks’

A few months ago I was given the opportunity to drive into the office, mostly because of a free parking pass that was gifted to me for a “short while”. That time is, unfortunately, up. Starting with Thursday’s commute, I have no free parking anymore.

You’ll notice, I didn’t say, “I’m back to riding Metro.”

It’s not that I don’t want to ride Metro. It’s not that I don’t believe that we need good public transportation and fewer cars on the road. It’s just that I’m dreading the idea of becoming a regular Metro rider, again. So what are my options, and what was it like to drive in for almost half the year?

Photo courtesy of
’23 Oct 2010 – No 010: Van Ness Station’
courtesy of ‘B Jones Jr’

The commute itself was not too bad. It started at the end of the school year, and traffic became less and less of an issue over the course of the summer. Driving down 50 to the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge was quick and easy, and the bottleneck of 18th street wasn’t too bad. H St NW, with the construction that was going on at the Hay Adams, was a mess, but it was just a couple of blocks and easily dealt with.

Shortly after the end of the summer, though, traffic spiked. The on ramp from 50 (which is two lanes) to the bridge (one lane) would back up, sometimes half a mile. This could double the morning commute. But to balance things out, the Hay Adams construction cleared up, and H St. became smooth sailing. Changing my route to take Lee Highway to the bridge lopped another 5-10 minutes off, despite being a slightly longer route. The reason? A better merging experience.

The merging situation at 50 and the bridge leads me to believe that way too many people need remedial driving school. But, rather than find myself angry and road ragey, I discovered that the more I drove, the more resigned I was, and the less stressed I got. It’ll be interesting to see if this reverses itself when I’m not exposed to the madness every day.

The evening commute wasn’t bad. Every now and again I’d have to bail on K St, but it seldom got out of control. There was one time when the evening commute was painfully long — almost 90 minutes to go less than five miles — but I’ve had Metro situations with similar pain (and I had to walk home).

Photo courtesy of

courtesy of ‘Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie’

As to options, I’ve got a few. None are pretty, though. I could continue to drive and pay for parking on a daily basis. At $18 a day, though, that’s not going to happen very often. Or at all.

I could buy a monthly pass. That’s “only” $255 a month. And while it sounds better than $18 a day, it isn’t by much: I work from home one day a week, making the daily cost roughly $16.

For the price of one day’s parking, I can do my weekly commute on Metro — roughly $17.60. That’s a sobering set of numbers, isn’t it?

Segways, scooters, and bicycles are all options, but not for me. But walking is an option, especially walking home, or part way home. With the cooler weather, it’s likely that I will be doing that more and more often. And, walking home means I don’t care if I get rained on or too sweaty, as I’ll have a nice shower awaiting me.

But I can also work from home, and I plan to take more advantage of that. I’ve been working from home all week, and it’s more than I want, but I’m also more productive with fewer distractions and a much shorter commute.

So, at the end of the day, my way for dealing with a return to Metro is to ease into it. Work from home once or twice a week, take the Metro in on other days, and walk home or take the Circulator or 38B. I’ll keep you updated on how it all works out.

Born in Lebanon, Samer moved to DC to go to college. A lot of good that did him. Twenty-two years later, he still lives in the area. When he’s not writing for a blog or tweeting incessantly, he wanders the streets (and the globe) photographing whatever gets in his way.

One thought on “Talkin’ Transit: Back to the Grind

  1. $18/day vs. $17.60/week is a no-brainer.

    I have a completely different problem: for the two of us, it’s $14.10 / day for Metro versus $14 / day for the car, and it’s about the same amount of time. Almost time to switch for me.