Wednesday, August 15, 2012

LIVING IN BOSTON: Commute to Work: What’s it to you?

Whether moving homes or moving jobs, we are all faced with the same question: How am I going to get to work? Depending on where you live, there is a variety of ways people get to work each day. While some of us are lucky enough to live just walking distance from our office, the majority of us spend each morning suffering through a mini-episode of Survivor. Despite Boston’s reputation as one of the easiest cities to commute through, we too endure the stress and anxiety of morning madness.
Here at BlockAvenue, two of us commute to work locally from within Boston and two of us commute into the city each day from the suburbs. You would think that the difference here would be between the Boston commuters and the suburb commuters, right? Well… wrong! While Tony and Melki both live in Boston, only Melki takes Boston’s greatest MBTA. This is the same case between Sara and Alex. While Alex takes the commuter rail everyday, Sara chooses to drive in. So we started to wonder, have we really chosen the most effective way to get to work each day?
There are two major questions we normally ask ourselves when planning our commute: what are my options and which is the best option? This is where things get tricky. What does the “best option” even mean? Does it mean the most convenient or cost effective?
After a long discussion amongst the BlockAvenue team members, it was concluded that there are two major reasons why people choose to commute the way they do: cost and experience. In this example, Tony and Sara favor the importance of the “experience” where Melki and Alex value the “cost” of the experience.
The table below gives you an inside look on how the BlockAvenue team gets to work each day and the time and cost of our commutes.
BlockAvenue’s Commute to Work (DogPatch Labs in Cambridge)
(Click to Enlarge)
According to the data, Melki spends about 12 hours more commuting to work than Tony does,
but spends only 70% of the money Tony spends in a month. Similarly, Alex spends nearly 15 hours more commuting to work than Sara does, but spends only 60% of the money Sara spends in a month. Please note that the scale does not include the maintenance and insurance fee for vehicle ownership.
According to both Melki and Alex, the value of dollar spent on commute is worth more than the amount of time they spent. Both gentlemen feel that they would rather save the excess money and put it toward activities that would yield substantial return on the money invested. However, this was different for Tony and Sara who shared that the whole experience of commute exceeded the value of money they spent. They feel the best way to get to work is the option that is most enjoyable. Why start each morning with the rush of getting to the train on time? Despite the fact they spend 2-3 times more money than their colleagues, Tony and Sara hold a higher value to the experience of the ride.  Tony also noted the additional 10 hours he picks up by riding his motorcycle to work instead of taking the subway was worth a lot more than the $180 cost differential.
Taking a step back, think about your own commute to work and what you feel has a greater significance, the cost of the trip or the pleasure of the experience. Are you really doing what is “best” for you? If not, do you think it is worth spending a few more hours on the train or forking over the extra cash to make your commute better worth your while?
How valuable is your commute to you? Please share your opinions below.

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