Supercommuters
February 8, 2016 12:26 AM   Subscribe

 
At first I read this as supercomputers, and thought that 20% of processing time bottlenecked on transport seemed low.
posted by ryanrs at 12:50 AM on February 8, 2016 [10 favorites]


Likewise. I tried supercommuting, but it was a flop.

I'm a microcommuter now.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 12:52 AM on February 8, 2016 [13 favorites]


I'm extremely fortunate not to have to do this. Life is too fucking short.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 1:13 AM on February 8, 2016 [8 favorites]


I'm actually fairly surprised the article is about a relatively small and compact country, rather than the US (where two-hour commutes have been Kind Of A Thing for some years now). I absolutely do not envy the sorts of people who have to put up with that sort of commute, though. No number of podcasts can make a two-hour commute worthwhile.
posted by DoctorFedora at 1:15 AM on February 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


Stuff like this makes me grateful for my leisurely 15-minute bicycle commute on level bicycle paths, but I do miss all the uninterrupted reading time I used to have when I rode the bus to work. The commute is often the only time some people have to themselves.
posted by pracowity at 2:01 AM on February 8, 2016 [11 favorites]


Employers need to start taking homeworking seriously.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 2:06 AM on February 8, 2016 [25 favorites]


I lived in Brighton whilst commuting to West London daily for a while. That was about 2hrs15min door-to-door.

On the one hand, it meant I got to do an awful lot of reading (and I became very good at being able to sleep on train), but on the other the impact it has on your weekday free time is brutal. Not just because you're not getting home until late, but because you then have to go to bed relatively early as you know your alarm is going to go off at six in the morning so that you can do it all again.

A year or so of that was more than enough to make me realise that I valued my free time way higher than money in the grand scheme of things (once I'd hit the point where I was earning enough to provide a decent living, at least).
posted by garius at 2:13 AM on February 8, 2016 [9 favorites]


I had a 90-minute each way commute (so 3 hours total) for awhile and it was absolutely awful even at that level. Never, ever again. Sure, I was fine with playing video games or reading on the train and almost always got a seat, but I just hated having to BOOK IT out of work every day if I wanted ANY free time to myself before I had to go to bed (thanks to the early wake up time.) There was never any chance of going out for drinks with coworkers, because the day was just so tightly scheduled.
posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 2:25 AM on February 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


There was never any chance of going out for drinks with coworkers, because the day was just so tightly scheduled.

I'm afraid today's supercommuters will be tomorrow's average commuters if self-driving cars become a thing, but this could be a good thing for your social life (if not for the environment) if you're only going home to an empty apartment somewhere in the sticks. You'll go out for drinks, dinner, a show, dancing, shopping, bonking, whatever, and then you'll whistle for your empty car to come pick you up wherever you happen to be in the city and take your staggering carcass back to a sleeping compartment in some shitty suburb you've never seen by daylight.
posted by pracowity at 2:41 AM on February 8, 2016 [17 favorites]


And just Saturday I was walking around an empty area of central London, where only a small portion of the houses were obviously lived-in (as in, external greenery and etc). Odd.

Personally even my thirty-minute flat bike ride is a little long for me, and I am looking to move closer to work; I'm very glad I didn't consider living in Malmo (just across a bridge from Copenhagen, but it's in Sweden, so now with the new border controls it's an extra at least 30 min each way for commuters there).
posted by nat at 2:46 AM on February 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


I used to have what was found to be the worst commute in the Australia, that is, it was calculated to be the most congested stretch of road that took the longest time to traverse, per kilometre. It would take me anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half to get to work in the morning. And, you know, a similar length home.

My husband meanwhile had what was easily the best commute in the country, if not the world (and still does.) He takes the Manly ferry across Sydney Harbour, past the Opera House and the harbour bridge into Circular Quay. He sees dolphins, the occasional whale. I just used to see belligerent commuters refusing to stand for pregnant women while we all inhaled each other's body odour, crammed in like sardines for an hour and a half on a bus. Who, bitter? Me?

I could count my life and free time trickling away and it was easily the hardest part of my work day that I resented the most. Never again.
posted by Jubey at 3:01 AM on February 8, 2016 [8 favorites]


I did from 1:20 or 1:45 each way from the same home to two different jobs for 10 years. Just normal for many people in Tokyo. Lucky for me I live centrally and they were mainly reverse commutes so I could get a seat on the trains on the legs out to the suburbs in the morning. For six of those years I'd splurge on a reserved seat on a nice train and have 30 minutes to just really relax each way which totally made the 1:45 do able. The 1:20 included a half hour walk mostly along a river, so not so bad. I could have cut the time to about 1:05 if I took a crowded bus full of high school students. Nope.

I once had a job where I lived in university housing on campus for a three minute commute on foot. Never again. Even just two years parking every day for some undetermined period of time on the 101. Ugh.

Now, 35 minutes door to door. One train with no changes. I have the best commute.
posted by Gotanda at 3:04 AM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I can ride the bus for free through my university. I did this for a while, but it took an hour each way. That sucks when you're a student because it means you have that much less time for homework; often that means a day without any real down time.

Now I pay $3.85 a day to ride the train and save maybe 30 minutes round trip. Over the course of the year that adds up to a lot of money, but I've stopped thinking of it as frivolous. 15 minutes seems like a short period of time, but I can't tell you how much of a difference it makes.
posted by teponaztli at 3:05 AM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


While not as bad I think I had it worse in aggregate.

I worked at a photolab thing in Portland (Qualex) that did all the overnight photos for WalMart, Freddies, Walgreens, and so on. I had to be at work at 11PM every-night. This meant leaving my apartment 9:30PM to catch the bus.

We developed all the overnight pictures in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. I went in a bit later than everyone else since I worked in the digital room. I would go in and spend a few hours notching the film and then loading paper in the darkroom. Then everyone would be heading home in the print room around 4AM and I would have to scan the film for digital into the KADUFUS. Then off to the digital room to turn the photos upright and burn thousands of CDs.

But my normal scheduled was:

Sunday - bus at 9:30PM, work at 11PM and then get off at 11AM, and then bus home and I would get home around 1PM

Monday - bus at 9:30PM, work at 11PM and then get off at 8AM, and then bus home and I would get home around 10AM

It tapered as the week progressed since there were less photos to deal with..

Thursday - bus at 9:30PM, work at 11PM and then get off at 4AM, but buy some 40's of PBR during my lunch break at 7/11 and go to the golf course at Reed College and drink until Tri-Met started back up so I could catch the bus home.

Live on spaghetti and toast since I made barely above minimum.
posted by johnpowell at 3:16 AM on February 8, 2016


No, nope, no way, no thank you.

This is why I budgeted a fiscally unwise 30% of our take-home for rent when we moved to London. We pay a blistering amount for a mould-ridden crapbox in zone 2, but my commute is only 20min on the claustrophbic armpitty fart tube that is the Northern Line. Totally worth it.
posted by nerdfish at 3:21 AM on February 8, 2016 [8 favorites]


It's all so infuriatingly inefficient!

Like if you work in a factory then yes, maybe the location of the factory is important, but if you work in an office or something, like a large proportion of people do, then why does it need to be in central London?
Why do we need to be shifting huge volumes of people from one side of the city to the other everyday.
It's a massive waste of time and energy and there really must be a better way.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:24 AM on February 8, 2016 [13 favorites]


I've commuted via public transportation all my adult life, and I don't think I've ever had a commute under 45 minutes door to door. An hour each way has been pretty typical for me; over an hour is the point where it starts to be a drag.

At one point, I worked at home full-time. Having that extra time at the beginning and end of the day felt like having an extra hundred dollars in my wallet.
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:35 AM on February 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


I commuted by public transit from Philly to NYC for a year.

Market-Frankfort El to 30th St Station, SEPTA regional rail to Trenton, NJT to Penn Station, the uptown A to 145th St. Return journey the only change was taking the trolley from 30th St Station to 42nd St.

It was miserable and made me really dislike SEPTA and really appreciate the MTA and NJT. I fantasized about NJT running direct from Philly to Penn Station a lot.

But I bought alumni library membership from the university where I did my graduate work in Philly and read around three books a day.

It was impossible to have a social life and wake up at 5am.

And then I moved to NYC.
posted by sciencegeek at 3:42 AM on February 8, 2016 [7 favorites]


I believe I paid my lifetime dues with nine years of commuting 60–90 minutes across various NYC rivers. After that it was five years of 20-minute drives, and now I live close enough to walk most days. My income went down when I left the city, but still.
posted by Songdog at 4:08 AM on February 8, 2016


Once, in my life, I had the perfect commute. I lived down the block from my work. 10 minutes of walking.

I miss that. I did NOT appreciate it enough when I had it.
posted by XtinaS at 4:11 AM on February 8, 2016


I literally just opened this tab after spending a ridiculous amount of time trying to optimise my commute for tomorrow. I work for an employer with a bunch of different campuses spread out across town, and tomorrow is a rare day where I have to be at two different ones in the morning and afternoon.

My options are:
1. A 50 minute bus ride (two buses) to my first location for the morning, followed by 1:30 (bus train bus bus) to the next campus, for the afternoon, which will finish at 7pm, followed by 1:45 home (bus train bus) So a total of more than four hours in public transport.

2. Cycle 30 minutes to the first location, which is quicker and more pleasant, but then my bicycle is there, so I either need to cycle to the next location (1 hour:20) and home again (2 hours, and I can't manage four hours of cycling in one day) or I have to leave my bicycle somewhere, which sets up difficulties for later as I'll have to go home via that location to pick it up, or take public transport the next day.

3 some sort of bicycle combo where I take my bike on the trains and cycle the bits that would be bus connections. Quickest and most efficient, but means I can't work on the trains as I'll be standing holding my bike. And rules out option 4

4. If I don't have my bicycle, there's a chance I can beg a ride from a colleague, as there is likely to be someone else switching campuses at lunchtime, but that will only cut about 30 minutes from the total commute, and means the bicycle is not an option. Worst case scenario, there is someone on the second campus who could otherwise give me a lift all the way home, but I'm stuck with my bicycle and can't take them up on it.

5. I stay at home and pretend to be sick instead.

People at my university do 5 a lot. Especially the ones who are required to work across three or four of our campuses.
posted by lollusc at 4:11 AM on February 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


(On a normal day, my strategy of not having a car works out well -- or the strategy of having a car works terribly depending on your perspective. My husband's daily commute is only about twice the distance mine is, in km, but although he drives and I cycle, it still takes him twice as long. Sydney traffic moves on average at a slower pace than a bicycle during rush hour. And since public transport on our routes is basically just buses, that doesn't speed things up either.
posted by lollusc at 4:15 AM on February 8, 2016


I used to spend about 15 minutes driving, 45 train, 20 walking, then reverse each day... I made a lot of friends on the train.. and spent a lot of that train time with my laptop doing things with photography. (Virtual Focus, where you line up many pictures by giving the computer hints about alignment) it was surprisingly non-annoying.

I now spend an 60-120 minutes driving each way through the nation's busiest traffic... it's soul crushing, but I do love making bevel gears or other machinist type stuff for a living 8) ... the pay is 1/2 though... 8( I really, really, miss the pseudo-free time on the train.

The future, when at least 25% of us are automated out of work, is really going to suck if the 1% still have a stranglehold on the economy by then.
posted by MikeWarot at 4:25 AM on February 8, 2016


I used to commute 45 minutes each way, from the northside of chicago to the south. I really loved that time on the train, reading books and just having my own private world. These days, I wake up, shower, and launch Slack. Boom, I'm at work. The irony here is, with no commute at all I also can't have drinks with coworkers, and it's really hard to know when to stop working. I have to force myself to plan things with others just to be sure i'll leave the house at least once a week for something other than groceries. From this side of things, I sometimes want a commute.
posted by dis_integration at 4:41 AM on February 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


And just Saturday I was walking around an empty area of central London, where only a small portion of the houses were obviously lived-in (as in, external greenery and etc).

They most likely were empty because they were tax-shelter second homes owned by hugely rich people who've driven the rents up so high that everyone else is forced to live out in the far suburbs and put up with these kinds of huge commutes.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:47 AM on February 8, 2016 [14 favorites]


This is why I drive instead of taking the subway -> bus to work. Life is too short to spend an hour each way commuting when I can get to work by car in about 25 minutes and home in 20. I'd like to support the transit system but not enough to more than double my commute time every day. I wouldn't even be able to get much done riding transit because most of the time spent is either walking to the various stops, waiting for the train/bus or walking from the bus to the office.
posted by octothorpe at 4:49 AM on February 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Out in the exurbs, my typical daily commute was at least a half hour drive each way. I bought a house in the Philadelphia suburbs that was a three minute walk to the train station, landing a job that was a little over an hour by train each way. During the novelty period, I got a lot of work done on the train - hobby work, not work-work, but after a couple of years it started to drag. Moved into a house that was a half hour walk from the job, and it was pretty awesome. At first, I took the subway until I familiarized myself with the neighborhoods, but eventually switched to all walking all the time, even in rain and snow. The main thing I missed was listening to full length albums - but getting up late and getting home with time for social activities was nice.

I'm actually back at the house by the train station after eight years in the city, swyping this out on my phone on the way to work, because (long story) we found a cool spot in the city at a great price, but it needs some work. When it's done, I'll be a ten minute walk from work - and Independence Hall, and the shops and restaurants in Northern Liberties.

But most importantly, I'll get at least two hours back every day. I think if I had to commute for more than an hour and a half each way, I'd make an effort to move closer. Trading down in space is worth it for the time, the way I see it, especially if you can get into an urban area where better things are walkable.
posted by Leviathant at 4:50 AM on February 8, 2016


Employers need to start taking homeworking seriously.

I realize it's a figure of speech, but employers do not have any such need. What they need is someone to do their work. Many employers feel that it's better to have those people in one place, where they can be more closely controlled. Whether those workers spend five minutes or five hours getting to that place is of no concern to the employers, let alone a need they have. It's just another expression of the inequality of the being-an-employee deal.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:51 AM on February 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Employers need to start taking homeworking seriously.

We just got a memo from management cracking down on working from home. We need a good specific reason like your illness or a child's illness before we're allowed.
posted by octothorpe at 4:55 AM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I spend more than four hours per day commuting. It used to be fairly straightforward 3.5, but the Swedish government got involved and added around 45 minutes per day to the trip to work, and the train company retaliated by splitting up the trip so most if that extra time is spent waiting on various platforms as I jump fron train to train. I didn't expect to look back fondly on the 3.5 hour version yet here we are.
posted by shelleycat at 5:00 AM on February 8, 2016


From this side of things, I sometimes want a commute.

I switched from working from home to a commute (that's about 45 minutes, including a 15 minute wait time because the trains don't quite work.

As long as I get a seat and am not bothered by some dickhead listening to his rap music on his phone (because headphones are girly or something, and it's always rap for some reason) I argue that the commute is a great part of the day.
posted by Mezentian at 5:08 AM on February 8, 2016


Over the past nearly sixteen years, I've had only about three years where work was bike able. Other than that, usually at about an hour, but now, my commute takes me from Chiba to Yokohama, through Tokyo. It's good in that my early shifts are on weekends and holidays, and my late shifts are late enough that I can reliably get a seat. Still, one train for about an hour and ten minutes, then a change for eight minutes. Depending on my return time, and the late night infrequency of the longer train ride, coming home can stretch the hour and a half door to door to two hours. I have vague plans to watch basketball games, write, or even study Japanese, but the nature of the job, and the hours, most of the time I'm just too exhausted to do anything but listen to music and zone out. It's not remotely sustainable, and is probably leading up to moving out of the area I've called home for the last sixteen years, which is more than a little upsetting. Sadly, people aren't throwing money at me in Chiba, and that's how things go.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:09 AM on February 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Over the past ten years my commute has gone from one hour and fifteen minutes each way by transit to 10-15 minutes by car or bike (depending on the weather), and it would be a good thing as far as I'm concerned if I never have to take public transit to work again. In Toronto transit is like communism; good in theory, but...
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:11 AM on February 8, 2016


According to one author, getting rid of a one-hour commute will make you as happy as getting a $40,000/year raise.
posted by cmerrill at 5:14 AM on February 8, 2016 [12 favorites]


I have cycled to work every weekday for going on 25 years. Takes about 45 minutes each way which is a decent amount of exercise. My only regret is that I can't read while cycling and my wife won't let me listen to podcasts. But if you can cycle to work you really should give it a go.
posted by Major Tom at 5:21 AM on February 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Today I found out that there is a name for what I do every day.

4 hours a day commuting.
Love the train. Get to turn my brain off for 2 of those 4 hours.

I don't mind the commute at all because prior to this job, I lived out of airports 50-70% of the year, so I guess it's all relative. For all the commuting, I see my family now more than I have in a while.
posted by prepmonkey at 5:26 AM on February 8, 2016


And just Saturday I was walking around an empty area of central London, where only a small portion of the houses were obviously lived-in (as in, external greenery and etc). Odd.


If it's Belgravia, then those were Russian oligarchs' mansions. They have a skeleton staff of servants looking over them, but only use them a few weeks a year, when a trophy mistress wants to do some luxury shopping or similar.
posted by acb at 5:27 AM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


A couple of years ago I doubled my commute. It had been 20 minutes biking/40 minutes train (the extra time coming from the station-to-door walk), with all the train riding against the rush. Now it's a 40-50 minute bike or a 50-55 minute train ride, with half the ride (one of the two trains) being with the rush and the other half against.

I don't mind the change for a couple of reasons:

1. I get most of my reading done on the train, and
2. It was a damn-nigh immeasurable change in the quality of home life which prompted the change. (Hint: I no longer spend evenings and weekends at the office, because I'd rather be home.)

All that said, if I had the option of commuting by bike for a couple of hours or more every day (and really, the only thing stopping me doing that is myself), I'd take it.
posted by oheso at 5:34 AM on February 8, 2016


I see in the article something I had experience with- evening commute being longer than morning commute.
When I lived in DC (5 miles from office) it was usually 30 minutes going in, 45 minutes going home. When I moved outside the beltway (15 miles) it was an hour in the morning, 1¼ or 1½ home.
This is where I got addicted to books on tape.
posted by MtDewd at 5:39 AM on February 8, 2016


Employers need to start taking homeworking seriously.

They already do. You're just expected to do it all on your time in addition to the work you put in at the office.
posted by srboisvert at 5:47 AM on February 8, 2016 [12 favorites]


I used to have a hellish 3.5 hr hour daily commute (1.45 each way) with three connections each way. My bosses just didn't understand why I couldn't stay late (buses didn't run frequently after rush hour so after 6pm I'd have a 2.5 hr ride home). I'm never doing it again; it made me so depressed and tired. Of course I say that, but maybe I won't have an option. It's getting impossibly expensive to live near workplaces in many cities.
posted by Stonkle at 5:51 AM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I had a short time of a 90 minute (and sometimes more) commute each way in heavy traffic on suburban highways (so when an accident shut down the road, there was usually no way to reroute around). It was absolute hell and I never want that experience again. I've had longish public transit commutes and they are ok except when you have one with multiple stages where a tiny delay on the first bus means missing the next ones in a cascading series of delays.

Right now I do my commuting in a company vehicle, which takes a lot of the sting out of it, but I also work remotely so in aggregate I am spending a lot of time on the highway. Audiobooks are great but I'd still prefer to be doing less of it.

We chose to pay much more than I would prefer for housing in order to give my wife a short walking commute, and I don't regret a penny of that cost.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:55 AM on February 8, 2016


Our Realtor told us to "live where you live". We live in a Canadian city where this is a realistic option but I feel for those that don't have that luxury.
posted by piyushnz at 5:57 AM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Our Realtor told us to "live where you live".

Does that mean something?
posted by pracowity at 5:59 AM on February 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


This is why I budgeted a fiscally unwise 30% of our take-home for rent when we moved to London.

Isn't 30% the standard? That's what is usually recommended -- as opposed to 50%+ (what I've been paying for years).

I did the 3 hour commute when I was 8 years old. Yeah, I got a lot of reading done, and it's not like 8 year olds have a lot of responsibilities. But the minute I was offered a 1.5-2 hour commute (age 11), I jumped at it (leaving school bus for public transit).

I've been up to 3 hours again, but having had such long commutes at an early age, I've been quite willing to take a serious hit in housing quality and rent (see above 50%) to have a one-way commute I can make in 15-20 minutes. (Sometimes I walk and then it's 45 minutes, but that's my exercise).
posted by jb at 6:03 AM on February 8, 2016 [7 favorites]


NYC - my commute door-to-door is between 30 and 45 minutes and it's the envy of the entire office. One woman commutes almost two hours each way, a couple others are about an hour and a half.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:05 AM on February 8, 2016


My bosses just didn't understand why I couldn't stay late (buses didn't run frequently after rush hour so after 6pm I'd have a 2.5 hr ride home)

That's the shitty thing that few people factor in about long, convoluted commutes. I've had coworkers who lived pretty far out and taken the commuter rail to work, and the smallest deviation from schedule can mess the whole day up. Staying 15 minutes late can mean getting home an hour later.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:16 AM on February 8, 2016 [8 favorites]


Does that mean the Vikings were a Beowulf cluster?
posted by JohnFromGR at 6:23 AM on February 8, 2016


I love my commute: 40min walk. Just the right length.
posted by aramaic at 6:24 AM on February 8, 2016


I used to work 11km from home and hated the commute. It varied from 40 minutes to 90 depending on... Whim, it seemed. I then moved my work to be 4.2km away. Still taking Toronto Transit, the ride was somehow still 40 minutes. I started to walk, which took 50. Counting walking my dog every morning, I walked 13km ever day for 18 months. I was tired of it but had built up a pathological fear of setting foot on transit again--I LOATHED it.

I decided to move my store. It's now located 4 blocks from my house. An 8 minute walk. You would not believe how much this has improved my life. 2-3 hours of extra time that's just mine, every single day. Incredible.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 6:27 AM on February 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


The longest commute I ever had (with the exception of a 90-minute-each-way bicycle commute that I had for a five-week temporary job in Tulsa) was when I lived in NYC, in Brooklyn, between Park Slope and Canarsie--one hour, three subway lines, each way. I'm now contemplating moving out of town and having a 45-minute drive on the interstate to and from work, and weighing the time and cost of the commute vs. living in a community that I feel much more at home in.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:27 AM on February 8, 2016


My bosses just didn't understand why I couldn't stay late (buses didn't run frequently after rush hour so after 6pm I'd have a 2.5 hr ride home)

When I lived out in the suburbs, the last bus out was at 6:15 and there was no alternative if you missed that. No taxi would take you 18 miles out into the burbs so if you missed it you'd have to call a friend to rescue you or just get a hotel room and stay overnight.
posted by octothorpe at 6:30 AM on February 8, 2016


I used to commute 2.5 hours a day. I now commute 7 minutes. Only thing I miss is NPR.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:35 AM on February 8, 2016


Sort of previously: the guy who walks 21 mile daily commute.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 6:37 AM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


My husband used to commute 2 hours each way, from Attleboro, MA to Burlington, MA. At the time I was working full time as well, about 10 minutes away, but I had an hour plus commute to graduate school in Boston. Throw a toddler in the mix and it was a nightmare for 3 years. When I finished school and got pregnant I left my job and he got laid off. It was scary but wonderful, since we all got to see each other for a change.

Now I have a 7 minute commute but I hate my job so much I want to stab myself in the eyes as soon as I pull into the parking lot. So, you know, it's a trade off.
posted by Biblio at 6:39 AM on February 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


I do contract work in IT, and, being based in central(ish) north London, have turned down jobs when the commute looks like it was too onerous. Every so often, I get recruiters calling me about “a development opportunity in West London”, which almost invariably turns out to be at Sky in Osterley (way out south-west; get off the Piccadilly Line a few stops short of Heathrow, and then catch a shuttle bus). For some reason, they're having trouble filling that one, and were having trouble filling it six months ago as well; presumably because anyone qualified to do it could pick up work somewhere where the commute wouldn't be a grim slog.
posted by acb at 6:40 AM on February 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Employers need to start taking homeworking seriously.

They'll do that if it is profitable. Either convince corporations that teams are significantly more productive when people work from home or convince governments to reduce the local commute load by pressuring corporations into expanding telecommuting. Otherwise, owners and top management will continue to expect everyone to work together in one place.
posted by pracowity at 6:52 AM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I am such a spoiled wuss for commuting. For years it was a 30 minute bus ride, and now it's an unthinkable 45 minutes door to door because I have to drive to take my son to preschool and I cannot wait for this child to be old enough to ride a school bus. I absolutely have constrained both where I'll look for a job and where I'll consider buying a home based on the shortest possible commute time (while maintaining other important quality of life metrics). I'm just thankful we live in a city where this is even possible for a very middle-middle income family.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:52 AM on February 8, 2016


My morning commute (at 5:30 a.m.) is about 35 minutes. My afternoon commute (at 3 p.m. or later) can be anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours. I am in Los Angeles and take the 101 to the 405 every day - one of the 5 most congested interchanges in the U.S. It can be a nightmare (a single traffic accident) or a surprising breeze (a traffic accident just behind where I enter the freeway). I've looked for alternate ways of commuting but they would all take longer. My university encourages telecommuting, but unfortunately my department completely prohibits it unless there are extreme circumstances. That said, I do once in a while when I can get away with it.
posted by Sophie1 at 6:56 AM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


There are people I work with in Manhattan who commute from as far afield as Philadelphia. It takes me 45-50 minutes (when the subway behaves) from outer Queens, and that's fine. One train, no transfers. I've been job searching, though, and the two places in play for my new job are going to add complexity to my commute that does not thrill me. Either I transfer to the 6 and go uptown, or I transfer to the R, and ride to the Financial District.

Still, if I were driving it, I'd want to put a bullet in my head.
posted by SansPoint at 6:56 AM on February 8, 2016


According to one author, getting rid of a one-hour commute will make you as happy as getting a $40,000/year raise.

Combined with the idea that being able to see trees while you work is the equivalent of a $10,000 raise, I am suddenly doing very well indeed with my new home office on a leafy block.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:17 AM on February 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


This is why I budgeted a fiscally unwise 30% of our take-home for rent when we moved to London.

Ha ha ha, what? 30%?

I commute 3 hours a day, because in order to live within even a 45 minute commute of my job, I would have to pay 75% of my takehome pay in rent. Even to share! With a roommate! Or several!

If fiscally unwise is 30%, then fiscal wisdom is well beyond the economic reach of almost everyone I know.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 7:18 AM on February 8, 2016 [9 favorites]


> According to one author, getting rid of a one-hour commute will make you as happy as getting a $40,000/year raise.

To voluntarily go back to my old commute I'd need a bigger perk than that. Something along the lines of six months' paid vacation.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:20 AM on February 8, 2016


Employers need to start taking homeworking seriously.

It's slightly ridiculous in my place - we have offices in London, Dublin, New York, and [offshore finance centre] with around 50-100 people in each office. Lots of teams are split between different offices, and lots of people have bosses in other countries, so there are excellent facilities for remote work - the majority of small meetings are virtual and happen on Lync, plus each office has plenty of nice VC rooms for big meetings. People frequently head to other offices for a week or two as well.

Despite that, working from home is non-existent - all the cities mentioned have overheated property markets, so lots of staff spend over two hours a day travelling to and from somewhere they can actually afford. It's like they don't care what office you're in, as long as you're in an office somewhere.
posted by kersplunk at 7:25 AM on February 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


One time I had a job location for seven months where average time to work was 70 minutes and average time back home was 90 minutes. For those seven months I did not do anything else Monday through Friday except commute and work. I casually told my boss one day at the coffee machine I thought it was like insane and he told me that is what he has been doing for thirty years.

Which explained a lot actually.
posted by bukvich at 7:29 AM on February 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm fortunate that my commute is a 20 minute walk, which I often transform into a longer run home. For a few months, I had a 45 minute door-to-door commute across London (1.5 hours per day) - not that long, really, and it wasn't even during rush hour proper, but I still detested it because it stole away my exercise/relaxing time.

Things like Slack, Trello, Google Docs, Skype, etc. have all made homeworking easier, but I think we're still in the relative stone ages compared to what's possible. I yearn for a future where everyone has gigabit fibre plus a videoconferencing wallscreen in their study with instant calls. My pet idea is that the wallscreen should be always on, but 'frosted' by default, so people can tell whether you're in and whether or not you can be disturbed, but they can't look at your screen.
posted by adrianhon at 7:29 AM on February 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


It's february so i can finally start talking about this, but I would really like to start biking to work. I live what google tells me is a 30 minute bike ride from work. I have not owned a bike in maybe 5 years and not ridden one in 10. I'm nervous about looking clean and sharp, and what to do with my laptop etc. while biking (it would be difficult to leave it at work, but it would be dangerous to bike with it, I think).
posted by rebent at 7:30 AM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


A co-worker of mine went from just about the shortest commute possible (she lived next door to our workplace so she walked downstairs and then about four steps into our front door) to the longest I considered feasible (about a 3.5 hour drive each way daily). She insisted the hours on the highway gave her time to relax.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:35 AM on February 8, 2016


I've been taking the bus more because I've been going to the gym, and I'm more motivated to go to the gym after work when I take the bus/train than when I bike, and I have to say, I know I'm getting old because public transit is getting to me. The choice is either the express commuter bus that comes through my neighborhood from the suburbs, which is full of terrible people (racist comments and right-wing misogyny regularly) or regular public transit, which is full of immiserated people. I decided that prefer the regular transit, because I prefer regular people to privileged douches, but seriously - I'd say that at least weekly there is some significantly distressing incident, like someone sobbing uncontrollably or someone drunk and yelling, and there's always someone having a really stressed phone call about how they really need the money right now to pay the rent.

I have to say, the last time I rode the bus regularly was probably the late nineties (because I switched to biking, and I'm switching right back as soon as my bike is out of the shop) and I don't remember it being this bad. I think times are worse and people are suffering more.
posted by Frowner at 7:37 AM on February 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


I work from home, so my commute is climbing a short flight of stairs from the bedroom to my office every day. Worst commute I ever had was 90-120 minutes each way to Central London via the hellish Southern Region trains of 1980s Britain.

Dropping the daily journey to and from work every day was great, but I do miss the social side of working in a central office with other people around all the time. Which is why I'm scanning Metafilter and writing this right now, I guess.
posted by Paul Slade at 7:40 AM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


This is why I budgeted a fiscally unwise 30% of our take-home for rent when we moved to London.

That is actually very good going for London, the ratio of housing costs to income is 70%.

The rule of thumb is that everywhere in London is an hour away. So I can see why people look at the maths and decide that adding another hour to the commute in exchange for better cheaper housing outside the city is worth it. It's not for me, it just doesn't seem like much of a life.

Currently, I have two jobs one is home based and the other is 5 minutes walk away, and it is fabulous. I took a 50% pay cut, but I am so much happier. But dont get me wrong, there's a luggage train of privilege that means I can do this.
posted by Helga-woo at 7:43 AM on February 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


I would really like to start biking to work. I live what google tells me is a 30 minute bike ride from work.

Do it! It will be the best decision you make this year.

You can find solutions to the issues (change of clothes/racks or bags, etc.) You'll feel energized when you get to work, you'll get in better shape, and you'll remember how fun riding a bike is.
posted by saul wright at 7:48 AM on February 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


Shepherd and I are really fortunate to not only afford a home in a downtown neighbourhood in our city, but that he is a 20 min walk/10 min bike ride to his job, and I am a 10 minute walk/5 min bike ride to mine. I cherish the fact we do not have car commutes. I also feel incredibly lucky.
posted by Kitteh at 7:59 AM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


My commute is a half-hour each way by car, and I like having the psychological barrier between work and home, so I go into the office most days - probably four days a week on average.

But this is in the Atlanta area so there are inevitably people with truly miserable commutes. And I work for a very large company with offices spread across the US, so most of the important decisions get made on conference calls anyway. As a result working from home is encouraged.

There are some days when I come into the office and wonder where everyone is.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:02 AM on February 8, 2016


The type of transit matters almost as much as the time. I've often traded a 25-minute commute by car for a 40-minute train ride because the train ride is far more relaxing (and semi-productive) than snailing along on the freeway with nothing to do but steer.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:02 AM on February 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


A co-worker of mine went from just about the shortest commute possible (she lived next door to our workplace so she walked downstairs and then about four steps into our front door)

Reminds me of my shortest commute. I did Comp Science in college and there was a work placement/internship scheme for 6 months in third year. I was living on campus and the office, in a government department, was... on campus in the same building, although in a separate unit, so I walked out my front door, out the main door, 20 metres to my left, up one set of stairs and there I was.
posted by kersplunk at 8:04 AM on February 8, 2016


I commute to Boulder in Colorado. What was 20 minutes a decade ago is now 40 minutes from all the people.

Boulder has responded to this by... failing to put in a train. And reducing the number of lanes on interior roads. And failing to increase public transit subsidies. Current planning has 15k more jobs in the next decade, with a restriction of only 5k worth of new residential spaces.

If the city would allow (or even, gasp, encourage!) the housing to be fixed, they would solve most of the other problems they're seeing.
posted by underflow at 8:13 AM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


If you do a cycle commute (and you should) you should also join the Metafilter Strava group and then you can see how rarely I actually cycle to work these days.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 8:16 AM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


My commute's an hour and change each way, by subway and bus, and I don't mind. With my laptop/tablet full of tunes, a boo or two, a snack and a smuggled alcopop, it's a regular party. Sure beats driving.
posted by jonmc at 8:16 AM on February 8, 2016


Previously: Saving money by commuting by airplane.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:17 AM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Jessamyn tweeted this link: ‘Master of the River’: A 71-year-old librarian’s 15 years of water commutes

Dude rows the Anacostia River every day to his job at the Library of Congress. Dang!
posted by Cash4Lead at 8:30 AM on February 8, 2016 [8 favorites]


This is where I feel almost bad about noting that (a) I've never had what folks would call a commute because (b) I've always (for my professional life) lived and worked in central Houston.

Oh, and also, that for the last 14+ years, my "commute" has been two flights of stairs, because I've been working from home when I wasn't flying to client sites.
posted by uberchet at 8:36 AM on February 8, 2016


I've commuted anywhere between 1 to 2 hours driving (Bay Area, SF to Palo Alto) and ten minutes walking (Palo Alto and NYC). The ten-minute walk to work in NYC was heavenly, but then I left the private sector and couldn't afford to live so close to work anymore. I moved to western Queens, where my commute was pretty good, and then to slightly more eastern Queens, which added about 15 minutes or so to my commute. It's now 45 minutes to an hour between the time I leave my house and the time I'm sitting at my desk -- not awful for NYC. Some of the court officers I work with live in counties far North and travel two hours each way. I actually find that the worst part is the walk on the way home from the subway to my house, which is roughly ten minutes (what my entire commute used to be, sob). In the morning, it's not so bad, but in the evening, I just want to be home already.
posted by holborne at 8:52 AM on February 8, 2016


I would really like to start biking to work.

I've been doing this for about a year now. Feel free to memail me (anyone) if you want the details.
posted by indubitable at 8:52 AM on February 8, 2016


In a lot of areas in Chicago, bike commuting is about the same or faster than public transit commuting. I've been doing it for gosh, almost 9 years now.

A few years ago, my bike commute was about 50 minutes each way, but public transit was at least 1 hr 10 min.

Now, my bike commute and public transit commute are about the same: 30-35 minutes. When I first moved I actually missed the longer bike ride (but very much appreciated the shorter transit option).

Right now I'm recovering from ACL surgery, though, so the bus is my only option. It's really tough not being able to ride my bike, and I have a new appreciation for how difficult it is to get around when you are disabled. The brace my doctor wants me to wear for 6 weeks is locked in a position that keeps my leg fully extended. I can bear weight, but not for all 35 minutes so getting a seat is a must.

So far, people have been gracious in offering me a seat if there aren't any available. The problem I'm finding is most of the seats are sideways, facing an aisle. Remember again that my leg can't bend with the brace on, it's locked completely straight. So my leg sticks straight out into the aisle. As the bus gets more and more full, people can't see my leg sticking out (most folks are looking straight ahead, not down), and they trip over me. It really sucks, both for them and for me (it hurts!).

There's no way to sit or twist or angle my leg without being in someone's way. I'm at the point now where if possible, I pick two open seats next to each other and spread my leg out over the other seat. I feel bad taking up two seats but it's really the only way I can manage to not trip someone or hurt myself. So far no one has given me a hard time about it but I keep playing possible scenarios in my head and how I'd respond, because my anxiety brain is like that I guess.

It doesn't make for a relaxing or pleasant commute. Thankfully my job is cool with me working from home twice a week, so I'm only doing it on days I have to be downtown for my physical therapy appointments anyway.
posted by misskaz at 8:57 AM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


There is one thing in re biking to work that I don't think has come up too often in bike-to-work threads, so I'll quickly put it here: you need a spare bike or a good back-up plan. There will be mornings where you think you're biking to work, only to discover that something came loose or froze up after you put your bike away. This sounds unlikely, but it happened pretty dramatically to me last year - totally jammed brakes that had been fine when I got in. If you, like me, leave thirty minutes before work when you're biking but need to leave earlier when you're taking transit, you need a backup plan. A second hand beater bike is a good plan if you get serious about biking in. Also, when friends visit you, you can go biking with them.)
posted by Frowner at 8:58 AM on February 8, 2016 [7 favorites]


The only downside I can see to biking to work is the risk of injury or death, which in Toronto (City Of Very Few Bike Paths) at least is omnipresent.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:18 AM on February 8, 2016


For a year I had a temp gig where I commuted from Brooklyn to New Jersey. And I had my choice of the following options:

A) MTA subway from Brooklyn to Lower Manhattan; NJ Transit PATH train from Lower Manhattan to Hoboken; NJ Transit Light Rail from Hoboken to Weehawken.

B) MTA Subway from Brooklyn to Port Authority Bus Terminal; NJ Transit bus from Port Authority to Weehawken.

After a couple weeks trying option A (and actually getting a transit ticket once because I misunderstood how the light rail worked and got caught in a sting some cops had trying to catch people who didn't buy tickets, and my arguing that "but someone told me I didn't need one", which actually HAD happened the first day, didn't fly), I went with option B, because the bus trip from Port authority to Weehawken in the morning was only a glorious seven minutes through the Lincoln Tunnel - my stop was the very first stop once we exited the tunnel. I actually got to work in under an hour.

That was the trip to work, however. At night, that seven-minute zip from Port Authority to Weehawken turned into a mammoth 45-minute expedition from Weehawken back to New York through the tunnel, what with massive traffic. And then I had another 45 minutes on the subway after that. And to add insult to injury, I get carsick when I read in cars or buses, so I couldn't read. (that year I decided to make everyone in my family hats for christmas, so I used the time knitting.)

I only lasted a year before I called my temp agency and begged them to get me out of New Jersey please for the love of god.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:20 AM on February 8, 2016


Meet the supercommuters: how to survive five hours of travel every day
[...]
This is what it’s like to spend a fifth of your waking life in transit


I guess what makes them "super" commuters is that they have the magical ability to be awake for 25 hours a day.
posted by dersins at 9:23 AM on February 8, 2016


Our Realtor told us to "live where you live"

Assuming this means "live where most of your life is" as in "live near your work so that your work-errand-kidactivity stuff is all close together", that's great if your city is ten square miles, or you never leave your job and your company never moves (and ditto your spouse and their employer!) and your kids don't want or need to go to a special-emphasis or better-service school in another part of town.

It's really "live where you'll probably be at least for the next 18 months or so, good luck with all that."

I am lucky that my industry is fairly telecommute-friendly, but even still I made it clear when I took this job that working from home was part of what I was accepting as a compensation package, and as such they were getting something of a deal. I can't be sure that every job will be like this, though, or that I will have the luxury of picking and choosing every time it comes up. Living in Los Angeles, our ability to buy is severely limited anyway, and because of the unpredictability and sheer size of the urban area, I don't know that we ever will buy.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:24 AM on February 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


The type of transit matters almost as much as the time.

Yeah. I can drive to work in 25 minutes, of which about 10-15 minutes is the drive and the rest is the walk from the area where parking is free. Or I can take the bus in 40 minutes, which means I don't feel guilty about contributing to climate change, don't worry about my car getting broken into, and don't get stressed out by the traffic on the freeway. I see more of my city, go right past Lake Merritt and look at the birds on the water, and see a lot more people going about their lives than I would if I were in a car on the freeway. And I get a transit discount from my employer.

Taking the bus isn't always great, but it could be a lot worse, and it does allow me to fall asleep on the bus on the way home, which is pretty nice.
posted by suelac at 9:37 AM on February 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


If fiscally unwise is 30%, then fiscal wisdom is well beyond the economic reach of almost everyone I know.

In the most expensive cities, you're absolutely right.

30% of take-home is too low to get anything unless your income is very high, you live in a dump, or you get an impossibly sweet deal.
posted by theorique at 9:37 AM on February 8, 2016


I don't think "time spent commuting" is really the key metric.

When my spouse was in grad school, I had a lengthy commute into Kansas City, but it was country roads and quiet mornings.
With a grad school schedule, it didn't really matter if I was home for dinner or on-time at all, really, so it was pretty low-stress.
I quite enjoyed it. Not being a morning person, it gave me a chance to ramp up to the work day and at the end of the day, it gave me a chance to decompress.
So I wouldn't have considered that hour or more wasted even though I did it for years.

On the other hand, the 2 years we spent in Southern California was a miserable grind.
It was a shorter commute both time and distance-wise, but it was 8-lane freeways and staring at taillights.
You got to work grumpy and fought your way home miserable.
I resent every stinking minute I wasted on the 15.

Now that there are children in the mix?
Forget about it, there is no way I'd commute unless absolutely forced to.
posted by madajb at 9:38 AM on February 8, 2016


Agreed, it's not all about the time. Three different hour-long commutes I've had since 2010:

Los Angeles, lived in Palms (ha... hahaha), worked at the Grove. Drove an hour in traffic on a combination of freeways and surface streets in my Honda Civic. My job was miserable, my life was miserable, and my commute was miserable. Sometimes there would be pretty jacaranda trees blooming that I could look at while traffic was at a standstill, which was mildly bearable.

Rural Japan, drove between 40 minutes and 1 hour (depending on which school I was at that day) through the countryside. (Those times are with no snow, and that was where I was living when I picked this username, so.) I had the longest commute of anyone I knew and they all felt sorry for me, and I'd tell them "Listen, I drove for an hour in traffic when I lived in LA, I'm just happy to be moving the whole time!" The entire time I got to take in the most stunning natural beauty - snow-covered mountains, persimmon trees, ocean vistas, little shrines, the sky reflected in the rice fields. And I had this cute little mini-SUV that was a beast in the snow. It was a pain getting up at 5:30 to shovel my driveway in the winter, but it made me feel very tough and self-sufficient for a lifelong California girl. That commute started to get old after about 2 years, but still, soooo much better than LA traffic.

San Francisco, 30 minutes on an express bus, then another short bus ride or a brisk 20-minute walk (plus transfer/waiting time). Hated this at first until I really got the hang of it and learned all the little tricks (leave early so I get a seat instead of getting stuffed into someone's armpit, allow exactly 4 minutes to walk to the bus stop, set up my NextBus app so that glancing at it and deciding whether to bus or walk for the 2nd leg is as easy as breathing). Now it's just more reading time, and there's nice stuff to look at along the route if I've gone cross-eyed from looking at a screen all day.
posted by sunset in snow country at 9:59 AM on February 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


There is one thing in re biking to work that I don't think has come up too often in bike-to-work threads, so I'll quickly put it here: you need a spare bike or a good back-up plan.

This is a real thing. For functional biking it’s better to duplicate than fancify, trading nice features for backup bikes. For my own SF/Oakland commuting, I use a simple 1980s steel bike with a fixed gear, fenders, and narrow handlebars that make it easy to take on transit or squeeze between cars. I have another bike with a rear rack and internally-geared hub for errands that’s a great emergency backup.
posted by migurski at 10:01 AM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


There is one thing in re biking to work that I don't think has come up too often in bike-to-work threads, so I'll quickly put it here: you need a spare bike or a good back-up plan.

If I were to bike to work, which I might attempt in the spring, I'd use the bike share bikes instead of my own. I trust them to maintain the bikes better than I can and I can just leave it on the rack and take a bus home if it's raining.
posted by octothorpe at 10:11 AM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


to the longest I considered feasible (about a 3.5 hour drive each way daily). She insisted the hours on the highway gave her time to relax.

Seven hours of driving per day? I get that being on the road can be relaxing in some ways (when I was home with my small child I loved driving my husband to work, sipping my latte and listening to the radio while my son was immobilized and reasonably content was heavenly). But that seems insane.

I live about 1.5 miles down a hill from work, but I drive because my son's preschool is on the other side of town from my job. Ten minutes to the preschool, ten to 15 minutes to read him a story and get him settled in, 10-12 minutes up the hill to work and park. I'm in my office usually about 40-45 minutes after getting in the car at home. It's not bad overall, though I can't imagine how relaxing and easy it will be someday when I'm not doing morning school dropoffs. However one trade-off is that I could probably make a lot more money if I worked in SF than working for my local nonprofit here.
posted by JenMarie at 10:50 AM on February 8, 2016


For the first year and a half of my present job (I've been there nine years), our office was downtown. I lived about half a block away from four different bus routes that would take me within half a block of my job.

I loved it - it was about half an hour commute, I could sit (although sometimes the bus home was crowded) and knit and just relax. The different routes meant that if I missed one bus I didn't have to wait very long for another bus.

Then our office moved to the suburbs. The bus was no longer an option, so now I have a 15-20 minute drive.

I've been quite lucky.
posted by Lucinda at 11:14 AM on February 8, 2016


When I was a long-line trucker, your commute was pretty much my job, so not bad.
On the other hand, since I slept in the sleeper bunk behind the driver's seat, when I got out of bed I was literally "at work". Actual zero commute.
I just hated that.
I spent the last couple years before retirement at a CSR gig which involved a 35 minute ferry ride across Puget Sound. I hated the job, but I actually miss the commute as it was always calming to cross water going home. Plenty of air, beautiful views, room to stroll, I just loved it.
posted by Alter Cocker at 11:34 AM on February 8, 2016


(My LA commuting stories.)

When I first moved to LA from Chicago, I didn't think as much as I should have about planning my work commute, which is a really crucial part of achieving happiness here, but I lucked out and lived in Silver Lake and worked in Pasadena. That meant primarily a reverse commute on the 2, which has so little traffic anyway that there's a not-completely-crazy proposal to close part of it and turn it into a park, and a little time on the 134. It took 15-20 minutes, and driving to Pasadena gave me a view of the beautiful San Gabriel mountains nearby, often even seeing snowcapped Mt Baldy off in the distance. On the drive home, from high up on the 134 on the side of a mountain, I could see a big part of the LA basin spread out before me, and if the air was clear I could even see the ocean from just a little west of Pasadena. I was always worried that I would be distracted by the view and get in an accident.

Years later I still lived in Silver Lake, but got a job in Santa Monica. Even though I got a motorcycle so I could split lanes, and timeshifted to avoid the worst of the congestion, it still sucked. 20 miles could take 45 minutes, or longer if it happened to rain. And lanesplitting is a pretty intense exercise requiring a constantly high level of focus and alertness for the entire period. Some days I just couldn't face having to fend off death several times a minute just to get to work 10 minutes faster, so I'd take my car. I did that commute for a year and a half and it was terrible.

I live in Eagle Rock now, and recently turned down a job offer from a company in Venice. I told them the commute was more than I was willing to accept, and they (a very profitable tech company) offered "Uber on tap", meaning they'd pay for Uber every day so at least I wouldn't have to drive and could spend the time reading. It was a very generous offer (and I hear the "Uber on tap" thing is becoming more common), but the idea of spending 2 hours every day on the road instead of with my family felt awful, and even though I was unemployed and running low on money I turned it down. So glad I did.
posted by jjwiseman at 11:35 AM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Consider me chastened about the 30% figure.
posted by nerdfish at 11:37 AM on February 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


I am thiiiiiiis close to cycling to work. I got the bike last week! But, the bike arrived much quicker than I was planning on, and now it's still dark and miserable and mostly raining in the mornings, and I need to practice, and I haven't cycled since I was a teenager, and work is far away, and... bike's still in the garage. Sigh.

Still planning to get out there soon, though. We have reasonably good (by UK standards) cycling infrastructure here - I could get to work in 7.5 miles of mostly off-road cycle paths - and I'm getting fed up of sitting on the crowded bus as it crawls slowly through the traffic. I just need to get out there.
posted by Catseye at 11:49 AM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I spend about 45 minutes each way going between central LA (home) and the Westside (work). But this is kind of ridiculous, as I work for a Silicon Valley company --- despite the fact that so many of the technologies are about communication, collaboration, etc , most of those companies discourage working from home. But even meetings at work usually involve videoconferencing with someone anyway. There is absolutely no reason to go into the office, except that we're supposed to. And this is remarkably common in tech (there are some exceptions, but the big names in particular are almost all against regular working from home --- occasional / for appointments / maybe even once a week is fine, however, which is still better than a lot of people get admittedly).
posted by thefoxgod at 12:27 PM on February 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


yes but if there aren't any butts to keep the office chairs warm, the material will deteriorate and fall apart in short order. that is very bad for business in the office furniture preservation industry.
posted by indubitable at 1:16 PM on February 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


psychological barrier between work and home

One of the reasons I don't mind the commute is that a lot of my coworkers live within a five or 10-minute walk of the office. And these are people I deal with 8 hours a day and do not want to run into at the grocery store or on weekends.
posted by oheso at 1:40 PM on February 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


GallonOfAlan: Employers need to start taking homeworking seriously.

Kirth Gerson: I realize it's a figure of speech, but employers do not have any such need. What they need is someone to do their work. Many employers feel that it's better to have those people in one place, where they can be more closely controlled. Whether those workers spend five minutes or five hours getting to that place is of no concern to the employers, let alone a need they have. It's just another expression of the inequality of the being-an-employee deal.

But employers need to retain skilled employees, unless their business can be done by basically anyone they pick off the street. To retain employees, they can consider things like employee happiness as a factor in productivity, a positive life-work balance as a way to retain skilled employees, and value their employees time if they want their employees to value their work time.

But that means employers have to look beyond bottom lines and workers as commodities.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:03 PM on February 8, 2016


I feel like I need to offer a small corrective to my earlier praises of teleworking, since I just got off a conference call in which every person sounded like a grownup from Peanuts and there were several audible dogs.

At the same time, I'm super sick today and the ability to work from my couch wrapped in 3 hoodies is pretty much priceless.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 2:08 PM on February 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


The weird thing in tech is that instead of doing all that filthy light thief mentions, they just keep throwing more money at employees. Which keeps people willing to live in either absurdly overpriced areas or have long commutes, but it doesn't really appear to be about the bottom line (which while important, is less critical when you've got tons of revenue). It just seems to be a mindset, or maybe a fanatical devotion to all these ideas of "spontaneity" and "collaboration" and so on. Many employees would trade some of the perks/pay to be able to WFH and live somewhere cheaper, but that option is generally not available.
posted by thefoxgod at 2:10 PM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


The worst commute I ever had -- and the only time I genuinely regretted never getting a driver's licence let alone a car -- was when I was working in Den Haag and nowhere near as monstrous as the journeys described here. Just an 1 hour to 11/2 hour journey which consisted ofa short ten minutes trip by bike or bus to Central Station, a half hour or so train journey to Den Haag HS, a fifteen-twenty minute tram ride to the outskirts of the city, followed by a ten minute walk to the office. Not all that bad on its own, but the slightest delay in one part of the journey meant hassle further down the line. Didn't help that the job was mindnumbingly boring either.

The best commute I ever had was when I was working at the Dutch unemployement agency offices in the west of Amsterdam: either a five minute train journey from CS (and my office was literally beside the railroad) or not even a twentyfive minute bike ride door to door including a three minute ferry ride over the IJ. That was bliss.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:18 PM on February 8, 2016


My commute to my last contract job was ten minutes on the streetcar. I could roll out of bed at 8:35 and be at my desk at 9:15. But I think that commute was a little too short - I could have used another 15 minutes on the train to shift from home to work mode.

I really love not having to drive to work - to the point where it's a relatively high priority for me when applying for/accepting jobs.
posted by bendy at 4:33 PM on February 8, 2016


Because I know everyone has been waiting on tenterhooks for the outcome of my strategising last night:

I got the worst of all possible worlds. I decided to do all public transport so that I could get a lift with a colleague between campuses if possible. It turned out no one was going all the way, but one guy offered to drop me at the first train station, which would mean I swapped a 20 minute bus ride for a 10 minute car ride instead. But then it turned out his car was parked 10 minutes away, and then he got halfway to the station, and said parking was tricky there, so he'd just drop me off at the corner, which was within sight of the station, but still a 12 minute walk. So that made it all take longer than the bus would have, and I missed my connection and had to wait 20 minutes for the next train. So it took nearly two hours from one campus to the other. Gah.
posted by lollusc at 8:10 PM on February 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


I went from a nice fifteen minute car commute (or ten minutes by train/twenty minutes by bus), to a hellish 150km commute each way mostly on the 401 through Toronto (I moved jobs and had that commute for two months until I found temp accommodation). Towards the end, I ws getting up earlier and earlier - eventually at 3am, out of anxiety that if I slept in by even 15 minutes my commute time on that damn 401 could have an hour added to the already two and a half hours each way due to the horrendous traffic. And of course when I got home around seven thirty/eight pm my kids would be all over me and dying to finally have dinner. I then had an amazing five minute car commute or fifteen minute bus and walk commute from the temp housing for two months (bliss!) and now a 15 minute commute from our farm to work. And this 15 minute commute is killing me! It is all country roads so usually at 100km an hour, and I can moo and the cows and ask "what's the drama?" at the llamas but it seems so far to go the 15km now that when I get home I am reluctant to go back out for groceries cuz it is a whole 15 minutes away.... And yet it pales in comparison to my friend's commute for four years while getting her BA. She would walk 30 mins to the ferry, take the 25 min ride over, then usually could hitch a 10 minute ride to the bus stop, which took an hour to the bus terminal where she could take the next bus for an hour, then finally the 30 mins bus ride to York university where walking from one class to the next could take 30 minutes on that sprawling campus. And then there was her return home. All this while being a single mum. I really don't have any justification to complain, do I?
posted by saucysault at 8:33 PM on February 8, 2016


Lollusc, you need a brompton. So many more transit options - can be taken on buses, in other people's cars and free on trains in peak hour if folded up. (I have one - if you promise to be nice to him, you can try him out for a bit).
posted by kjs4 at 9:00 PM on February 8, 2016


So it took nearly two hours from one campus to the other. Gah.

But you were at least on the clock for that time, yes?
posted by Mezentian at 11:28 PM on February 8, 2016


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