Door to Door: Your Commute and Your City

Monday, September 14, 2009

The WNYC Culture Department has launched a new series, Door To Door exploring the way we commute. Robert "Buzz" Paaswell, Director of the University Transportation Research Center at City College, will guide the discussion throughout the month and help you redesign your commute.

Today: Does your commute shape the city, or does the city shape your commute? What one thing have you done or would you do to redesign your commute? Comment below!


Robert "Buzz" Paaswell

Comments [41]

Philomena from Westchester

I moved from Kew Gardens, Queens four+ years ago to Westchester. While I went from a 7 min commute to my Forest Hills office and lots of cost (gas & tolls),I love the time it has given me. I spend 30 minutes in the car each way and I enjoy it listening to NPR which was not available to me in the past due to the brevity of my commute. I am a listener (and a supporter)and have enjoyed becoming more informed over these 4+ years of my commute.

Sep. 16 2009 03:22 PM
Chris from Bayside, Queens

My family moved to New York City (Queens) a year ago. With my job in Flushing, Queens and my wife's job in Throggs Neck, The Bronx, we settled on living in Bayside. While we each have a simple 10-15 minute commute by car (outside of dropping off/picking up from day care), I was disappointed that we had to buy a second car to live in NYC, which is supposed to have the best public transportation in the country.

That there is no subway in NE Queens past Flushing makes Manhattan that much further away and certainly shapes our perception of the city.

Sep. 16 2009 07:03 AM
PJ from Seaport

I love my commute, too. I'm a seven minute walk from the office ;)

Sep. 15 2009 02:25 PM
kurt from washington heights

I love my commute most days - and it definitely shapes my relationship with the City. I've lived in NYC about 15 years, and always commuted by bike. For most of that time, I've lived and worked in different boroughs, which means biking over a bridge. I get to see so much more of the City on my bike than anyone in a car, subway or bus. I can stop anywhere, run errands, etc. so much easier by bike. Currently, I get to spend part of each day biking through Central Park. My commute is about 30 minutes, better than half the time it would take me by train or bus, because I go from uptown to downtown and west side to east side... Now if we can only have safe bike lanes! Mike, you'll get my vote for mayor if you can get the cops to stop parking in bike lanes!

Sep. 15 2009 01:39 PM
kurt from washington heights

I love my commute most days - and it definitely shapes my relationship with the City. I've lived in NYC about 15 years, and always commuted by bike. For most of that time, I've lived and worked in different boroughs, which means biking over a bridge. I get to see so much more of the City on my bike than anyone in a car, subway or bus. I can stop anywhere, run errands, etc. so much easier by bike. Currently, I get to spend part of each day biking through Central Park. My commute is about 30 minutes, better than half the time it would take me by train or bus, because I go from uptown to downtown and west side to east side... Now if we can only have safe bike lanes! Mike, you'll get my vote for mayor if you can get the cops to stop parking in bike lanes!

Sep. 15 2009 01:39 PM
Lars from 10018

My wife and I bicycle commute daily from Washington Heights to Midtown, via the Hudson River Greenway. We love it. We ride pretty much year-round and resign to the subway in only the worst weather.

The Greenway makes for a safe trip. It would be even better if there were safe crosstown bicycle paths.

Sep. 15 2009 12:42 PM

My commute is the worst part of my day. It puts me in a bad mood before getting to work. It puts me in a worse mood on my way home. NYC transit is highly, highly overrated - and is a big factor in my decision to soon leave this city.

Sep. 15 2009 11:11 AM
billbk09 from Bay Ridge

Most of the time I bike from Bay Ridge to Lower Manhattan (about 10 miles). Sometimes I take the R. Even with the traffic, some inconsiderate drivers and variable weather, the bike is the better, healthy and greener, alternative. That said there are many small changes that could improve my commute: first and foremost drivers obeying the speed limit and not talking on cell phones, second a bike lane along 3rd Avenue under the Gowanus, and third making 3rd Avenue from the Prospect Expressway to at least 3rd Street just one lane of traffic going north (eliminating speeders trying to pass on the right) and incorporating a bike lane going north (there is one already going south).

Sep. 15 2009 10:19 AM
David from Stuyvesant Town to Columbus Circle

My commute (on bike) tells me that as a society we've set aside huge swaths of space where you're not supposed to go (roads) and set aside tiny strips of space for people, and those spaces are way, way, too inadequate for the numbers of people compelled to use them.

Why don't we take some of that wasted space from cars?

Pedestrians drive the economy more than car occupants anyway.

Sep. 15 2009 09:52 AM
Randall Wolf from Garrison New York

I write the Cycling Central blog on in the northern suburbs. I was surprised cycling wasn't talked about in this show as a terrific alternative to other commuting methods. Not only will cycling ease congestion, it does not generate any pollution and helps societies battle of the bulge creating healthier citizens.
I'd hope this could be given a place in the upcoming shows on the topic.

Sep. 14 2009 08:22 PM
Sarah from Inwood

I commute from Inwood to the far east side of Manhattan. It takes 3 trains and typically 1hr 10min. The incessant noise and crowds that subway commuting entails took a toll on me. I felt like I started and ended my days with struggle against time, against decades old infrastructure, against waiting, against other New Yorkers in the same position as me. My commute inspired me to coin the phrase- "dubiously habitable". I heard about an MTA Express Bus that would pick me up 5 minutes from home and drop me off 10 minutes from work, without transfers, and is quiet and comfortable. Because it only comes 2-3 times per hour, it required me to give up some flexibility and it doubled my commuting expenses each month, but I was craving mental peace and physical comfort in my long commute, so I invested. And being in the cushy chairs, and above ground for the whole way to work was such a relief. But unfortunately, the bus was at least 10 minutes late ~90% of the time (and 20 minutes late was not unusual!. This made me so frustrated that I started to keep a little notebook with daily statistics to vent some steam. But I couldn't count on its tardiness and arrive to the stop late, because sometimes the bus actually came early!
So I'm back to the noise and the crowds and the lack of light of the subway commute. My investment in the express bus just wasn't worth it. But the bus experiment did make me more appreciative of the predictability of subway travel.

Sep. 14 2009 07:24 PM
a woman from inwood

Whenever I search for a new apartment, I specify that I need to be one block, max two, away from the subway, and I give a list of suitable subway lines depending on the neighborhood. I don't bother even looking at anything if it doesn't meet those requirements.

I've always been happy with my commute that way.

Sep. 14 2009 05:53 PM
Linda from Queens

I 100% agree with those listeners who said that the G train needs to be extended and improved. This is the ONLY subway line for someone to use in order to get from Queens to Brooklyn without taking a 1 hour subway ride through Manhattan.

I live on the 7 line. It is an OVERUSED line which needs to be remedied. 7am? Packed 8am? Packed, so much so that if you live anywhere past 61st St, you will have to wait for 2 or 3 trains in order to board. 1am? Yep, you guessed it: Packed!!!

Why is this city spending so much money for a 2nd Avenue line when it is the people of Queens and Brooklyn who need additional subway servicce, and not the wealthy residents of the UES??? I hear complaints about the 4/5/6, and yet my daily commute for the last 4 years has bee the 7 to Grand Central and then a downtown 4/5 or 6. The 4/5 and 6 have NEVER been as crowded as the 7. NEVER!

Sep. 14 2009 12:16 PM
Sarah from Manhattan

I live on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and I work on the Upper East Side. The distance is only about five miles, but it takes me an hour to get to work!

This fact drives me nuts, but the good news is that I walk half of it--so I get an hour of exercise each day just getting to work. My doctor is pleased.

Sep. 14 2009 11:51 AM
Jack from Forest Hills

My relationship w/ the MTA is a love hate one. It all depends on how long it takes me to get to or from work.

I live in Forest Hills and have a 15-20 minute walk to the Continental Ave subway station. From there to Wall St can be 45 minutes if I leave before 7am or 90+ minutes if I leave after 7am. I've tried every combination of trains (R to the 5/6; E to the 2/3; F to the R to the 5/6; etc)

Coworkers out in Suffolk County or Connecticut usually have quicker commutes than me.

Sep. 14 2009 11:50 AM
Stephen from bklyn

Life is always a trade-off. I just gave up a pleasant walk from prospect heights to fort greene for a 25 minute subway ride to herald square, but I get to read now.

Sep. 14 2009 11:47 AM
mary from uws nyc

Bike! You always get a seat--a unique perch to view the city from..Back alleys of Chinatown, waterfront, highly efficient --I often beat the subway! I've even cut down on my gingko biloba because as the blood rushes to my head I get ideas I haven't encountered since college days--my fertile mind is no longer fallow!

Sep. 14 2009 11:46 AM
chris mcgee from brooklyn

Does agree with last caller, that when wife and I drive to work to 'hattan together from Brooklyn, early morning, more convenient and cheaper. More trains in the morning!

Sep. 14 2009 11:45 AM
Tricia from Sunnyside

Frequency of trains is the number 1 factor in how nice my commute is.

I MOVED to get off a line that was less and less reliable (F), and was practically singing and dancing with joy after a week of frequent, reliable trains on the 7 line. Bliss, indeed.

The second factor in a nice commute is courteous riders. Makes me so much happier than rude, selfish riders.

Sep. 14 2009 11:44 AM
Julia Small from Williamsburg,Brooklyn

I bike to work, it's not very far, but due to the state of things lately any added frustrations take there toll. I used to leave as late as possible to get there using the busiest and most obnoxious roads. Now I leave early in order to take a pretty tree-lined bike route. It changes my outlook and I get to work and start it off on the right foot.

Sep. 14 2009 11:44 AM
Karen from Manhattan

My husband and I currently commute from the Upper East Side to Providence, RI, each week. Why is it that we cannot find any timely information about construction delays on 95 north in Connecticut? Sometimes lately we've sat at night for over an hour, waiting to get by a construction site. If we had information about delays we could take a different route.It's very frustrating that specific information, such as sites of delays and the start time of construction each night, does not seem to exist.

Sep. 14 2009 11:42 AM

Ferry ferry ferry ferry ferry!

I have, at times, paid 6x as much as to take cab+ferry rather than bus+PATH.

Light rail is pretty good too.

Sep. 14 2009 11:42 AM
Johannah from Brooklyn

After teaching for several years, and driving to work within Brooklyn, I took a job working in lower Manhattan. I noticed that I was incredibly stressed going to and from work because the over-crowded trains from Prospect Hts to lower Manhattan made me anxious. I decided to start walking to work several days a week - through Cobble Hill, Brooklyn Heights and walking over the Brooklyn Bridge - and feel back in love with Brooklyn and NYC. The breeze on the Brooklyn Bridge cools me off enough so that I'm not a sweaty mess when I get to work, and I find that I am much more relaxed - whether I'm walking too or from work - not to mention in better physical shape.

Sep. 14 2009 11:41 AM
Adam from Brooklyn

I'm with Gary from Brooklyn. I've been commuting for 2-1/2 years since spending a week in Berlin. Bike commuting is an absolutely beautiful and energizing way to travel the City. The revamping of street landscape -- bike lanes, ped only areas -- is fantastic, and it has made my commute much, much safer (notwithstading getting doored in a bike lan by a cab last week). And there are more bike riders than before. But the culture still needs to continue to change. The new bike access in commercial buildings legislation may help, but we still have a long way to go.

Sep. 14 2009 11:41 AM
Jennifer from NYC

I now walk on both sides of my subway commute about 15 min each side rather than taking a bus - not only is there the health benefit - but I feel more spiritually clear and grounded. When I took the bus I felt like I was at work already.

Sep. 14 2009 11:40 AM
a woman from inwood

I moved to Inwood from Hamilton Heights and switched to the A train from the 1 train. What a difference! Gone are the buzzing hordes of annoying spoiled brat Columbia students! Now I commute with a more down-to-earth, serious (and more diverse in terms of financial and culture and profession) crowd. What a pleasure it is now. I LOVE it. And it's express! It has definitely changed my life for the better.

Sep. 14 2009 11:39 AM
chris from brooklyn

The transit strike a few years ago forced me to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge to my office in Tribeca. What started out as a major annoyance turned into a wonderful new way to experience the city early in the morning.

Sep. 14 2009 11:38 AM
Niall from Sunnyside

I fell in love with the city all over again when I started to commute by bike.

Sep. 14 2009 11:38 AM
Sandra from Astoria, Queens

I HATE my work commute! It takes me one hour to get from my home in Astoria to my job in Soho. I know people who live far out in Long Island and it only takes them 30 minutes!

And YES to improving/extending the G line! Most of my friends live in Brooklyn, and there are so many great things to do there, but I hardly ever go because it's such a hassle to get there and back from Queens (especially on the weekends).

Sep. 14 2009 11:16 AM
Eric Cho from Carroll Gardens

I would say that my commute shapes the way that i see the city. My commute is 30 minutes no matter what route i take. Because of this, I choose to walk 15 more minutes versus taking another train line to get to work. On beautiful days like today, it really helps to get the blood flowing. I'm not looking forward to the winter though...

Sep. 14 2009 11:15 AM
gary from Park Slope


I am pretty sure you can take bicycles on the NY Waterways ferry.

Sep. 14 2009 11:14 AM
NKH from harlem

The crazy expensive fare for the bus and subway has made me take advantage of my free transfer. If I take a quick trip somewhere on the train I'll come back on the bus and pay for one ride instead of two.

Sep. 14 2009 11:08 AM
Caitlin from Jersey City

I'd love a bike/pedestrian bridge between Jersey City and Manhattan! (Not particularly plausible, I know, but there's no way to squeeze my bike on the PATH during rush hour, and I'm not too keen on going all the way up to the GW bridge every morning.)

Sep. 14 2009 10:41 AM
antonio from park slope

Here, here #6/voter...
G should go all the way to forest hills...

Sep. 14 2009 10:37 AM
antonio from park slope

I have a few ways to get to any part of the city from my location (atlantic/pacific). I mean during the transit strike I went to the flatbush lirr station to jamaica to get to penn station. I think we need to open up unused commuter or abandoned lines and promote the ones that exist. How many people are aware that you can get to the city via the "marble hill" stop via metro north?

Sep. 14 2009 10:35 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

The G train reminds me of government under Conservatives… Underfund it, underutilize it, rally citizens against it, systematically dismantle it, block its growth, deny there are any “easy answers”, then talk about how broken the system is and that it is the problem and not the solution.
(1.) As #1 suggested, find a way (via tunnel) to connect the G and A,C to the Atlantic-Pacific mega hub of the LIRR, R, N, M, D, 2, 3, 4, 5, Q, and B (2.) Make the temporary G train connection at 4th and 9th permanent; everyone I know in Park Slope and Williamsburg loves it and stopping it one short of a connection to up to five trains (F, R, M, N, D) made no sense (3.) Continue the G train to Queens Plaza 24/7 instead of stopping it one stop shy of three trains (E, V, R) (4.) Not sure geographically, but it also looks like the G could connect to the J, M, Z.
The G could connect to every major line in the system, if only it were allowed to.

Sep. 14 2009 10:34 AM
Bo from Prospect Heights

I used to read more books when I had a commute to and from work. Now that I work at home, I don't have that "free" time to read, and I don't get as much reading done as I need or like

Sep. 14 2009 10:13 AM
rob from Windsor Terrace

I just moved my graphic design studio to a storefront 3 blocks from my home, which makes for a wonderful commute. Partly a defense against the MTA's stupid fare increases, this also allows me to pick up my first grade son after school, skipping the expense of a sitter and giving us more time together.

Sep. 14 2009 10:06 AM
gary from Park Slope

My commute shapes my perception of the City. Coming from Park Slope to downtown Manhattan by bicycle has improved significantly in recent years with the build-out of the bicycle lane network. More protected bicycle lanes would really improve the quality and safety of the ride. I can't wait for the Prospect Park West lane, currently in the planning stages.

Sep. 14 2009 09:41 AM
Steve S from Staten Island

I absolutely oove my commute...Staten island Railway (always on time), to teh Staten island Ferry (on which you can always find a quiet corner in this the noisiest of cities) to the R train (which lets me off at Union Square's green market) hour and a half each way, and it allws me some sanity!

Sep. 14 2009 08:44 AM
denny mui from dyker heights

they really need to link the G train to the atlantic-pacific stop. I so tired of having to go through the city to get to williamsburg. It's the third major hub in the city so this would make sense.

Sep. 14 2009 03:35 AM

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