Which of these public transit options would you take?

I’m trying to decide between two possibilities for commuting for the next three months:

Possibility A: Drive about 4.5 miles to a train. Ride train for about 20 minutes into downtown. Catch bus for last mile to office. (Being close to downtown, said buses come relatively often.)

Random factors: Drive to station mostly surface streets. Train schedule is such that if you miss it, you miss it. (But that’s kind of unlikely, and even then, you can just do possibility B below.) Parking relatively limited, but a few spaces still open, normally, at time the desired train comes.

Possibility B: Drive about 7.5 miles to catch light rail for 34 minute trip to station less than a block from office.

Random factors: The drive in general is mostly freeway; any backup will be due to getting to said major freeway. Parking is 600 spaces, so probably no problem. Rail trains are smaller than train in A, but come by every 10 minutes.

Any thoughts, or other unlisted factors I should consider?

Unlisted factors:

–How much does each option cost?

–*How long *do the drives to the station take in each case? Actual mileage is less important.

–Does either driving route take you by places where you can do errands on the way to/from work, like the supermarket?

–Do you have to pay for parking at either lot? How much does it cost? Is it by-the-day or by permit? Can you even get a permit?

–What would it be like to walk that mile from the train in possibility A to the office instead of taking the bus? Would you be interested in walking sometimes?

–Is there anything keeping you from trying both and seeing which you like better?

–Are the hours of your job regular, or will they vary? Which option is more flexible?

–What part of the country are you in? Expected weather is important.

In any case, from your other thread, it seems like you’ve never taken any public transportation on a regular basis. From my experience, making transfers can really up the stress factors. A has 2 transfers (car to train. train to bus/walk.) B only has one. But that’s not necessarily a deciding factor.

Well, I’d want the flexibility of the rail train, the more assured parking and the experience of “hey, I lost 10 lbs. by walking a block to work every day!”

I’d also appreciate the 2 transitions (car to rail) rather than three (car to train to bus)

I’d take B, unless it was hugely more expensive. Multiple transfers eat into transit time really quickly, and for me personally are disproportionately aggravating. At least with the 34 minute train ride there is a chance to find a seat and read for a while. With the longer uninterrupted stretch I think the time will pass in a more enjoyable fashion.

I’d just drive all the way to the office.

I’d try both options 2 or 3 times, to see how each works out. After all, with public transport, you don’t have to make any kind of long-term commitment.

I’d go with B.
I like the flexibility of 10 min intervals.

I’d probably take B. An extra three miles or so drive doesn’t seem so onerous, plus I like knowing that I’ll have a place to park. But that’s just me.

I like to drive close to downtown, then park for free and walk in. Free parking plus forced exercise - win/win! You’d be surprised how far you can walk in a very short time if you’re not familiar with it - a mile would take about 20 minutes, I think. I’d just walk the mile on the end of Option A instead of waiting for yet another transfer.

Green Bean’s questions:

Cost: B is a buck fifty cheaper for the day. Maybe more, since taking the bus from the office back to the train station probably charges (whereas the other way around doesn’t for sure).

Length of drive: No idea. Mapquest claims the difference is two minutes, but I don’t believe it. It’s probably the kind of thing I’ll have to try for myself to discover. There are a few routes I could take that might be faster than others.

Errands along the way: Both provide opportunites.

Parking: Both are free, as far as I can tell.

Walking the mile: It’s about 14-15 urban city blocks. I’m not at all sure about walking; I’m told it takes about 15-20 minutes to do. Weather might be okay, but it can get wet.

Trying both: Nothing keeping me from doing so, really.

Job hours: Mildly flexible. Option B is the most flexible by far; as I said, option A’s train has 20-40 minutes plus in between them.

Not since before 2000, in another city, for far less time/distance. And the bus stop was practically right outside my door.

As for driving in… I could, but I have no idea where my parking options are, especially those that are not hideously expensive (the company I’m working for used to offer parking, but the unaffiliated company running it in their building jacked up rates so much that they had to drop it).

I used to walk a mile to work every day. You can get pretty sweaty :smiley: Plus depending on dress codes, maybe you have to start carrying a change of shoes around. Option B sounds more reasonable to me.

B sounds like the best way.

I’d be all over Plan B - IME, every time you toss a bus into the route, all bets are off. Trains just seem to be more reliable since they’re not sharing roads with cars that do dumb things like double-park or get into accidents.

Another thing I don’t think I saw covered is if you need to work late unexpectedly. Will either option leave you stranded downtown and unable to get to where you parked?

I’d go B. As a long time user of public transportation it is my consistent experience that frustration increases dramatically with the number of transfers involved.

My office moved last year. Before the move my commute was:

60 minutes. Walk to train station, get train, transfer to other train, take bus from train to office.

After the move it is:

75 minutes. Walk to train, take train to stop 1 block from office.

Despite the extra 30 minutes of commuting each day the new situation is far preferable to the other one. Sure, 95% of the time all those transfers happened without issue but when something went wrong it just messed things up massively.

I used to do it, too, and it definitely has pluses and minuses. If you’re a horribly sweaty person, you might need to change your shirt before work. I’m usually able to wear the same shoes for walking as working; I’m not a high-heeled bunny-killer wearer. It is weather dependent, too, but bus can be your bad weather option. The pluses of walking are the exercise, and I always found it to be a really nice way to start and end your work day - clears your head before you get into work, and it unwinds you nicely before going home.

Cost is a big factor, but that aside I’d choose B. It’s the car->train->bus that increases the odds of something going wrong on any given morning. Plus it seems like more of a hassle.

I’d go with B. Less change overs. You have plenty of train time to read the paper.

I would do B, for less transfers and to avoid dealing with a train schedule.

Seems like there’s unanimity! gotpasswords also has a good point; the last train runs at 6:15. So option B it is!

Thanks for the input, all! I’ll update once I try the commute to the light rail station.

Quickie update: turned out to be the right choice, as far as I can tell. For one thing, the preferred work day would make it hard to make the last 6:15 train. For another, the commute to the station was pretty easy (could it being a Wednesday have anything to do with it? I wouldn’t usually think so, but the security person I talked to at option A’s parking lot said it seemed lighter on Wednesdays). For a third, much more parking available, but that was clear from the get go.

It was a pleasant enough ride. The way back even showed it seemed quicker than the schedule said by ten minutes! Thanks, everyone, for the input!