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I live in Silicon Valley. I commute (usually by car as I have someone to carpool with), and have been in a variety of commuting arrangements. This has led to Me Having Thoughts on commuting.
Oh and hearing about my friends in various cities also dealing with commuting has led to More Thoughts.
As The Bird Flies is Nothing
Though I shouldn’t be, it’s fairly obvious if you do any commuting and have gone over the best strategies, actual distance means nothing. It does not matter if something is closer or father in far, far too many cases.
This is, of course because roads, traffic jams, highways, buses, trains, etc. all change how you get from one place to another. Things may be “close” but boy one narrow street or one lousy bus schedule eliminates the value of “close.”
Can We Have More Buses?
You’ve doubtlessly heard about how fifty single-use cars can be replaced by one bus. I’ve taken to counting how many unfilled buses worth of traffic are in traffic jams. It’s very educational.
Mostly, it’s educated me to “how many damn cars do we have here.”
Bus lines can get weird, of course, because of the assorted challenges of setting them up. But whenever I see traffic jams in areas that we know tons of people are going to be in, I want to give more buses a try, especially for local traffic.
Oh, Hey, Trains
The “train family” (trains, trams, subways) are great forms of public transport. You can haul a bunch of people, and the good ones allow you to eat on board and make a fun trip of it. The latter is a hint, public transport.
Anyway, I may want to see more buses, but trains are vital to good public transport for sheer volume. Honestly, more places need to ask what people’s schedules really are to maximize their use.
Oh, and on that subject, more high-speed limited train schedules. You know the kind that only hit major stations and thus allow for fast trips to major hubs?
The Amplification Effect Of Public Transport
One thing I’ve become painfully aware of in Public Transport is that certain locations vastly amplify the ability to use public transport. This is because many locations allow access to multiple forms of transport, but also that some forms of transport let you use other forms of transport.
If your apartment is near a train station that takes you to a major bus terminal, you know what I mean. Or if you can get on a bus that passes two major train station. Or a tram that gives you multiple options of where to go.
When dealing with commute, don’t just ask about your transportation options. Ask what options those options give you.
Man, All The Cars
Sure, we know the US is way, way too dependent on the automobile. But my latest commute has me going through some thick traffic, even though it’s pretty reasonable. When you see how crowded roadways get – and think of all the options – it’s hard not to feel many cities kinda messed this transportation thing up.
The car has become something so ingrained into our life, there’s lots of economic power behind the car, that it’s hard for us to think of other ways to travel. We kind of need to.
Hell, the environment aside, the sheer stress of the modern commute should annoy people into action.
More Work From Home
Working from home won’t solve every problem of transportation. I know some jobs make it hard, but you know, we really need to encourage more work from home. I’ve been lucky to be able to do it on many of my jobs, and its a sanity-maker.
And it’s great for reducing traffic. Just imagine if the traffic in our big cities went down by, say, 20%. Think about it.
Random Rants Over
Well that was cathartic, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on the modern commute and ways to deal with it.