For whatever reason Monday was an awesome multi-modal commute day. The MARC train was uncrowded and on time. I made it to Union Station by 8 a.m. and was on my bike within minutes. The longstanding road repair project on E St NW is done so traffic flowed well there and traffic was light in general. Perhaps because of an earlier than usual departure (4:45) traffic was light in the evening, too. The evening commute often involves jammed streets, impatient drivers, vehicles parked in bike lanes – all the typical features of urban rush hour commutes. But not this particular evening. It was a pleasure. Adding to the pleasantness was the balmy, spring-like weather!
In sharp contrast, Tuesday I drove to work, something I do only .01% of the time, if that. Last night I had evening plans that required a car. The experience reinforced the fact that I should never drive to work. Admittedly, it was raining a little on Tuesday which makes driving in this region even worse than usual.
A comparison of the two commutes makes the multi-modal trip the clear winner.
Car Plus MARC Train Plus Bike Commute
Time – 1.5 hours (on a good day). Commute Experience: Can read, sleep or daydream on the train. For sure, sometimes it’s a nightmare due to delays or breakdowns, but most of the time its ok. Cost: Round trip drive to MARC Station, at 50.5 cents/mile, about $4.40.* Roundtrip train fare: $12.00. Bikestation rental: Something like .50 cents/day. Total $16.90.
Car Only Commute
Time – 2 hrs 15 minutes to drive 36.5 miles(for real). The late evening return home was faster. It took about an hour and 10 minutes. Commute Experience: Jockey the car through traffic jams for at least 50% of the ride. Listen to NPR during the drive, which is fine. Time behind the wheel is stressful. Cost: At 50.5 cents/mile, about $40 round trip, plus $10 parking. Total, $50.00.
*Yes, as you might be thinking, I could bike the round trip to the train station. Maybe someday I will start doing that.