What is it like to commute to Manhattan?


Today we moved into our new office in Brooklyn, bringing the opportunity to reminisce…

So what is it like to commute by subway?

I walked a few blocks to the nearest station – you are always a few blocks from the nearest station in New York. I swiped my card and waited no more than 5 minutes for a train. Don’t count on a seat, but I sit at a desk all day and choose to stand even if there is a seat. On the ride you can read, listen to music, or zone out and sleep. I popped out near Penn Station, walked a few more blocks, and arrived at work.

How is a subway commute different from driving by car?

Commute time for many may be the same 20-40 minutes depending where you live, but the opportunity to zone out or read makes the time go quickly and reduces much stress. Stop and go traffic by car boils the nerves; you feel every minute, not so by subway.

Human nature is to complain and you will hear about unreliability of the rail lines. The truth is, a subway commute is the only way you can have an incredibly consistent commute. Sometimes the train stops briefly due to congestion or the train may run late – but this may add 5 minutes tops. Maybe a handful of times a year will a true delay occur causing 20 minute delays.

What is the worst part of taking the subway?

In the summer, the stations are not air conditioned and they get HOT. Luckily if you are travelling at peak times you are not waiting more than 5 minutes and then the subway cars are air conditioned, but you will sweat. During rush hour, especially in the morning, the trains can be packed. You may have to push your way in and feel like a sardine for a couple stations – but usually only a stop or two before a lot of people clear out again.

What will you miss most about your subway commute?

Actual time on the train was only about 20 minutes for me, but added together that was 3 1/2 hours of reading each week I could accomplish. It offered me a chance to relax and transition in and out of work.

What is something interesting one might not expect about the subways?

Performers. There are some truly talented people who gather to play music in the stations. I’ve often walked past thinking how given another context the quality of some of the performances is the type of thing I might travel and pay to go sit in a coffee shop and hear. Jazz music is most common, but also interesting things like percussion with buckets and pans, folk music, bluegrass, and I once saw an opera singer. 14th Street Union Square and Atlantic Avenue are where I saw the most.

What does it cost to travel by subway?

80 bucks gets you unlimited monthly rides. For the budget conscious imagine having zero variation for gas prices and car repairs. No insurance, no taxes, no car payments. This is a major area New Yorkers can make up ground for the otherwise higher cost of living.

So, what now?

I’ll be walking just under a mile to and from work. I’ve begun plotting the most scenic route and I’m looking forward to the exercise. I’ll miss my reading time, but I’m planning to keep up some podcasts. If I can find a place to secure my bike I could come home for lunch if I wanted. And as for rain, if I really need to I can take the subway with about half the walking on either end as my previous commute.

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4 Responses to What is it like to commute to Manhattan?

  1. bchallies says:

    Interesting, Rick….I know Susanna is looking forward to having you closer. Mom C

  2. Grace says:

    I did not know you were moving buildings…I bet you will enjoy the walk as much as the subway!

  3. Susanna Rose says:

    I’m glad you will be closer and I’m sure you will enjoy the regular exercise but I know you will miss some things! I guess it won’t seem as exotic now to go to work but on the bright side, if the terrorists ever succeed in doing something to the subway systems in New York, you will most likely not be on them!!! Relief!!!:)

  4. Niki Haye says:

    Superb website article. I am curious about if you may possibly expand a bit more on what you are stating in your subsequent posting?

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