Find the Best Commuter Car Challenge! What is the Best Car for Commuting??

 

As you know, I drive a Toyota Prius ( CLICK HERE TO SEE MY TWO PART REVIEW ON THE TOYOTA PRIUS)   All is well with that car, but circumstances have changed, and I need to find another vehicle to commute in.  

 

What do you think the best car to commute in is? Is it the one you are driving?  Is it on your wish list? 

Here are my criteria  

-Less than $10,000 US

-Used

-preferably front wheel drive

-manual or automatic is not a problem

-no "rust buckets" 

-Some work is ok, but not a ton. 

 

Let me know what you think! 

 

Thanks

 

 

 

Would an Express Bus Lane out of the Lincoln Tunnel in the afternoon help the commute home for many heading to New Jersey?

     I had a twitter follower reach out to me in response to a general tweet I put out asking if anyone wanted this site to cover a commuting topic, please let me know.  I received a response back from one reader, (name withheld out of respect for privacy.)  This reader's question was, "Why isn't' there an afternoon express bus lane out of the Lincoln Tunnel  (NYC), even though there is in the morning?"  Now, before you stop reading because you don't live in NYC, this overall topic may apply to your area. Please read on.  


     A little backstory.  The Lincoln Tunnel  joins New Jersey ( just outside Hoboken NJ) to NYC/Manhattan at approximately Midtown towards the west side of the city.  There are 3 individual tunnels, knowns as "tubes" passing under the Hudson River.  Each tube has 2 lanes.  In the morning, one West Bound Lane (heading to NJ ) is turned into an Eastbound Lane ( to NYC) and is used as an "Express Bus Lane", or "XBL " for short.  The purpose of this lane is to make a dedicated bus lane to speed up commute times. The bus lane actually backs a bit up into New Jersey as well, helping speed the entrance into the tunnel.  Although I have never taken the bus lane on a regular basis but from what I have read, it can speed up the commute by about 20 min.   Right out of the tunnel on the NYC side is the "Port Authority Bus Terminal" which is where many of the buses stop.  This makes a very convenient stop for commuters to walk,taxi, subway etc to their final destination. 

     So back to the question "Why isn't there a XBL tunnel in the afternoon?"  Although I didn't see an "official " response , I did read some responses that did make some sense.  One thought was there just isn't enough room on the NYC side to park all the buses to make it viable for a XBL.  Meaning, there wouldn't be enough buses to take as much advantage of the XBL.    If you have ever been to this area of NYC, then you know what it is like  VERY congested, and VERY crowded.    In order for an XBL to be a success, you need a "supply" of buses to "feed" the XBL.  Without much parking/space, where are all these buses going to be staged?  Also, another point I read and agree with was by making a normally inbound lane, an outbound XBL, buses would have a difficult time getting back after making their first run since the inbound tunnel lanes would be that much more crowded.

     To further this point,  cutting down another lane into the city in the afternoon for an XBL out of the city would basically cause a bottleneck potentially.  I believe one reason why the XBL works so well in the AM, is not many people are coming out of the city at that time.. so reversing a normally outbound lane to be the inbound XBL doesn't have as big an impact as it would in the afternoon  True, there are people who work overnight hours who come out of the city during morning rush hour, but I am sure the count is substantially lower than the amount of people who work second shift ( 4p-12a) who need to get into the city when the afternoon XBL would take away a lane.  Also, I would think many of the people going into the city in the morning have to be in by  a certain time, let's say 9a, but may leave at different times due to varying reasons ( stay late at work, dinner plans, meeting friends etc)  What this would mean is the outbound traffic would be spread out longer, hence, potentially diluting the effectiveness of an XBL.  

     My own take on this as someone who did commute to NYC for the second shift is having an XBL in the afternoon causes more issues than it would solve problems.  Some backstory on me you know where I am coming from and not someone who hasn't commuted through the Lincoln Tunnel.  I commuted for a little over a year into NYC.  I would drive to what is known as a "Park and Ride" which is a few miles outside of the tunnel.  The "P&R" was the last stop before the tunnel, and was the first stop on the way out of the city  ( very convenient ) You paid one price  to park your car, and also get a roundtrip  bus ticket.  Wasn't a bad deal, especially if you use a program like "Wage Works" to pay for your commuting expenses with pre-tax dollars. ( CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST TALKING ABOUT WAGE WORKS PRETAX SAVINGS)  I used to have to be into the City at 5pm, near 52nd/5th ave.   I used  to take the 4pm bus, because the 4:20pm  bus, yes just 20 minutes later, would mean I was sitting in traffic more often than not and would potentially be late.  I also know  some nights I left at midnight, and could get the 12:30a bus back to the park and ride, and some nights it was the 1 am bus back.   My point is, many people do leave at the same time every day.

     Take all the factors into account, and I believe an Express Bus lane in the afternoon out of the Lincoln Tunnel would not be worth it in the overall big picture.  It would cause too many other issues, as noted above, and would not potentially  be as big a success.  What is the solution?  As I read while doing research, another tunnel would work.  Maybe one that puts you down towards Penn Station as well, so yo could tie into the trains/subways. This would lift some of the traffic off the Lincoln Tunnel, and perhaps alleviate some of the afternoon issues

Just my opinion.  Please let me know what you think.  

 

 

information gathered from the following sources in writing this article:.

http://www.streetsblog.org/2008/09/17/tstc-issues-lincoln-tunnel-emancipation-proclamation/

http://blog.tstc.org/2011/10/27/nj-transit-scorecard-second-verse-same-as-the-first/

http://blog.tstc.org/2013/04/30/with-gateway-years-away-trans-hudson-bus-capacity-needed-now/

http://www.panynj.gov/bridges-tunnels/lincoln-tunnel-xbl.html

 

How Spending Less than $500 Can Save You from Making a Big Mistake When Deciding to Commute a Long Distance or not

     We try to cover all aspects of commuting here on  THE LONG COMMUTE.COM  .  One part of commuting I wanted to cover today was testing to see if a long commute, or any commute for that matter, is going to work for you.  The last thing you want to do is invest your time and money to set yourself up with a job that has a long commute, and it doesn't end up working for you.  Below are a few tips on checking to see if a long distance commute is right for your. 

     As we have talked about in episodes 2 and 3 of our podcast series. ( CLICK HERE TO BE TAKEN TO OUR PODCASTS  PAGE FOR THESE TWO EPISODES) , there are many reasons why commuting may or may not work for someone.  For this example we are going to use the scenario that "you" are seriously thinking of taking a  job with a longer commute.  Currently your only commute about five miles each way.  The problem is you are living in a small one bedroom apartment that is no longer working for your growing family.  As we talked about in Podcast episode 2 ( CLICK HERE)   you are looking to move a little farther away from your place of employment in order to get a little more for your money so that you can afford a larger home.  You have found a house which you can afford, but you and your family just aren't sure it is going to work. 

With the above in mind, here are a few things you can do before you accept that new job to see if the commute is right for you.    

       Ask around at work:  I was amazed when I moved to the NJ area the amount of people that didn't work right near their job.  I am talking the VAST majority didn't.  With that in mind there is bound to be someone where you work that commutes a distance.  Start asking around. Maybe it is someone in your department, but maybe not.  This is a great way to meet other people at work in the break room let's say.  Or maybe ask your coworkers if they know anyone in the office that commutes a long distance.  It doesn't have to be to the same area where you are working, although that would be nice.  When you find this person(s), ask as many questions as you can. ( without trying to make it seem like you are a stalker or something!)  Seriously though, honesty works here.  Explain what you are thinking of doing, and see if they have any advice.  I am sure they will give you a number of reasons, some positive, some negative perhaps, as to what they think about their commute and if it is working for them.   I would ask all sorts of questions if the other person is up to it.   Things like, why do you commute a long distance, how is family life, if you had to make the same decision again, would you..etc..etc. With this information, you are better armed to make an educated decision in your situation.  

     Take a test drive:  Assuming you are still interested in making that move, I would invest some time and money into a test drive.  What do I mean by this?  I would find a place nearby where you are looking to move that you could stay the night, or a few nights.  Maybe a family member or friend lives in the general area.  I am even going to suggest paying for a hotel.  I know you are probably thinking, "No, I don't want to spend any more money...I am already going to be potentially spending a ton of money on the move, etc"  Think of it this way.  Let's say it costs you $300 for one night in a hotel , plus food etc.   If that $300 saved you THOUSANDS of dollars in moving costs, and aggravation, would it be worth it?   I think so.  

      Here is how I would do it. Maybe midweek, make a reservation at a hotel in the area you are thinking of moving to.  After work , drive to that hotel as if it were your new home.  Commute the same time you normally would so you get the best idea of what kind of traffic you would have, and what the overall commuting experience will be like.  When you get to the hotel, maybe head out for dinner, drive around the area, basically take in the sights. Maybe have your family meet you there.  After all, this could be your new home.  Treat it like you have already moved, and you have to run to the store to get some errands done, or swing by the school to take kids to practice.  This is a dry run of sorts.

   The next morning, get up, and see what the commute is back to work.  Once again, see what the entire experience is like.  If necessary , do this a few days.  Like I said, some money spent now will greatly save you in the future not only money wise, but time wise as well from what it takes to just move.  

   And there is one other thing.  How about something you can't put a dollar amount on?   Your happiness.  If you move to a new home and you absolutely hate the commute, you are going to be miserable.  Now you will do whatever you can to get out of that situation, which is going to cause you stress, and potentially cost you more money.  Suddenly that $300 doesn't look so bad!

   I would suggest doing whatever you can to get the most information you can, BEFORE you make the decision to move, or take that new job that has a longer commute.  As with many things in life, information is key, and having as much information as you can before committing to a long commute  will greatly help you in your new home and life. 

Please comment below, or drop me a line if you have done something else to help with your decision as to  whether a long commute is right for you or not.  

Thanks for reading

Curt

Commuting season is DEFINITELY in full swing...Over 2 hrs to get to work today!! Yikes

That's right....took over 2 hrs to get to work today, in a commute that normally takes about an hr...  I talked about it in Episode 8 of our Special podcast series ( click here to listen)    where there is definitely an uptick in traffic as the commuting season started.  I think even I underestimated what it would take.  I gave myself 2 hrs, and still was late.  So, I would suggest leaving some extra time for the near future!

 

HOW LONG DID YOUR COMMUTE TAKE YOU TODAY?  LEAVE A COMMENT OR RETWEET LETTING US KNOW!

 

Please check out our 14 tips in 14 days that talks all about how to get the best out of your commute!  CLICK HERE TO BE TAKE TO OUR PODCASTING PAGE  or click PODCAST at the top of the page.