Friday, September 06, 2019

If all Goes To Plan



If all goes to plan, this is the last day of my "alternate" commute.  I moved to the DC area in large part because I longed to live in a place where I could depend on public transit, and more specifically on a train or subway system.  When I bought the condo, a critical criteria was access to a subway station, just a 10 minute walk from my front door.  The 4th of May, 2015 was the last time I drove to the office, I like it that way. I like working in the office, I don't like spending time in rush hour traffic.  

The DC subway system opened in the mid 1970s the station closest to me was in an early expansion opening in the mid 1980s.  The system has not been well maintained over the years. The decision was made to rebuild all of the stations south of National Airport, I am at the end of one of those two lines, six stations were closed for 13 weeks.  

Starting the first week in June, rather than hop a train in my local station, change trains and pop out 8 floors below my office and doing the opposite in the afternoon; I have been driving to the station, the buses are more efficient from the far end of the station closest to what has been free parking for the summer, taking a bus to the Pentagon, boarding a train there, depending on what train came in, either coming up two blocks south of the office, or making a change and coming up below my desk.  My return home has been more complicated, take the subway train across DC to Union Station, change to a local Commuter Train (VRE), take that to King Street, then wait in the sun for 10 to 15 minutes for a local shuttle bus that then sometimes got stuck in rush hour traffic for half an hour.  My commute went from 45-60 minutes in each direction, to at least an hour in the morning, and at least 1.5 hours in the afternoon.  To avoid the worst of the congestion, I have been going in early, the least crowded VRE train home leaves Union Station at 3:25 (I have taken the 3:10 most days,) to get in a full days work I needed to be at my desk by 7:30 AM.  

The Pain should be over, Metro Rail should be back working on Monday.  I expect there will be some minor issues as they get all of the rebuilt infrastructure working,and restart systems that have been out of service for over three months. It will be so nice to slide back into my favorite seat on Monday morning.  

I haven't written about it, I try not to fill the blog with debbie-downer, or negative-nancy postings.  It has been a summer of pain, going to bed early, getting up early. I have grown to really enjoy the VRE trains, the service is very comfortable and reliable and the Conductors have become welcome and comforting at the end of the day.  If I never ride another bus, that will be just fine. I took some time off over the summer, and I have started working from home one day per week, something I may continue to do.  

Anything strike you as strange about the shuttle bus sign? 




6 comments:

  1. "here are all the autobuses of free transfers" en espanol. but no, nothing odd. "gratuitos" sounds like a new kind of chip. thank the dogs and cats the nightmare is coming to an end!

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    1. It struck me that they pointed out that the shuttles were free in Spanish, but not in English.

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  2. Gratuitous sounds good. Does that mean free? I don't mind Debbie Downer posts. Pleased to know you train service is back to normal and now becoming slightly curious about where you live to have a good train service.

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    1. I am in Alexandria, Virginia, about 9 miles directly south of Washington DC. The DC area has a good subway system, though not nearly as extensive as New York, or London. If you live near it. There are a little over 105 miles of track, with 91 stations in the DC system. Sometime in the next year, and expansion of about 20 miles will extend the system west past Dulles airport, giving that major international airport subway service for the first time. (Dulles is like 20 miles west of the city.)

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  3. So glad for you. That really was an awful inconvenience. When we lived there in the '80s I was in love with the Metro. So, I was shocked to witness the state of disrepair when we visited last year.

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    1. As ugly as the system was, it still worked 99% of the time, the station escalators only about 80% of the time. In ten years, I have only had to abandon the system to get to or from the office a couple of times. (One morning a tunnel flooded, turned out the guy who maintained the pumps had retired after 30 years on the job, and no one knew there was a pump that needed to me maintained to keep that tunnel dry. I ended up taking a taxi that morning.)

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