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The Truth About NYC Commutes

Commuting to work is pretty much a nightmare. There’s no way around it. Whether by car, bus, or subway, the time and aggravation of getting between home and work can be a real trial. Here we lay out both nightmare and dream commuting scenarios.

The Nightmare

There are some particularly egregious commutes, pretty much anything on the 4 or 5 lines, and if you live in a transportation desert, you can expect to walk 15 minutes or more to a mass transit stop. And if you’re disabled, more than half the neighborhoods in the City are transit deserts. To find out if your home is in a transit desert, you can check out this map. Though it’s a few years old, there haven’t been any new subway lines in the outer boroughs in oh, about a million years.

Whether in a transit desert or a veritable mass transit rainforest, there’s nothing like rushing to catch a train only to find that the amount of people getting off is as large as the group getting on. Not being about to make it through the crowds to board the train can be infuriating. Waiting for the next train after watching yours depart the station is a frustration every New Yorker has experienced more than a couple of times in their commuting life.

It’s also true that on any given day, the City has a vibe. On lovely summer days, the whole City seems to be in a cheerful mood, while there are days in NYC where it seems like everyone is a miserable misanthrope. On those kinds of days, its best to steer clear from, well, everyone, at least as much as humanly possible.

Some days you board the subway car only to find that everyone is crammed down at one end because a homeless person has taken up residence in the other. Or you hear the dreaded words “It’s showtime!” and despite the skill of these acrobatic dancing kids, you still worry that if the subway makes one wrong, rickety move, you’re going to end up with a knee in your face.

The key thing to do, if you commute by mass transit, is to know which subway car you want to be in to better access either the exits your stop, or to make the cleanest possible transfer. There are apps for that, and here’s a recent roundup of some of the good ones.

Particularly horrifying commutes tend to be those within the outer boroughs. All trains take a pretty straight shot to Manhattan, but getting from within an outer borough to a job within that outer borough can really make you feel like you’ve worked a full day before you even get to the job. We heard of one commuter traveling from Sunset Park to Dumbo. It routinely takes over an hour and three different subway lines to travel the 6 miles between work and home.

Driving? Also not an amazing idea. With congestion mitigation plans in midtown, cross town traffic, taxis, Ubers, Lyfts, busses, garbage trucks, cyclists, and those patented crazy pedestrians, driving can be worse than just walked 20 miles to get where you’re going– well, almost.

The Dream

If you can get an apartment near your job, or a job near your apartment, the walking commute is basically a dream. It is delightful to step out into the day, and to know that you do not need to descend into the subway trenches to get where you need to go. A great way to find out if there are any good apartment buildings near your job is by checking the reviews on gohomeny.com. It can really help you refine your search so you don’t end up with a disastrous apartment in the perfect location. When you’re walking to work, you end up finding the perfect coffee place half way between work and home, or are able to spot the exact best shoe repair place, and if you ever forget something at home, you can always rush back for it at lunch.

Lots of New Yorkers swear by cycling to work. With CitiBike in so many convenient locations (not so many in the outer boroughs, ahem. The City’s renewed efforts at creating and maintaining bike lanes, though still not as amazing as it could be, makes this practice available to more than just hard core cyclists. Casual pedalers can partake of this commuting option as well. Benefits include sweeping vistas of the glorious skyline from any of the river crossing bridges, ditching the gym membership, and being part of a a cool subculture of cyclists. If you’ve never tried it, here’s a first hand account.

The ferry is a more recent option, but it is, by all accounts, spectacular. First off, it’s always great to take a boat ride through the built and beautiful New York City archipelago. The boat is relaxing, the rocking of the waves, the sites and sounds of the water, the casual calm of an off land commute. While there are many ferry stops along the East River, more are in the works.

The express train or bus are great mass transit options as well, where you can get on at your stop and not get off until you’ve arrived. But be careful, because one hitch in the service and your express might turn local, turning a 30 minute commute into something bordering on infinite.

With so many ways to get to work, some way more pleasant than others, it’s good to consider what your commute is going to look like either before you sign a lease, or before you accept that offer letter. A dream job can be spoiled by a complicated commute, where you’re always running late and twitter shouting at @mta about how they can’t get you to work on time. While New Yorkers are bound to be sympathetic to your MTA issues, because we all know the struggle is real, you don’t want to be that person who is always at the mercy of mass transit. And it truly hurts to get off work and know you’ve got an hour plus of shoulder to shoulder commute time to get all the way back to home.

The truth is, it’s easy to wind up in commute nightmare. It’s up to you to be thoughtful and determined about making it a dream, or at least, bearable.

Be Heard at Go Home NY

Be heard! Leave your apartment, condo, and coop building reviews at Go Home NY! Know a building's managers are awful? Have the inside line on a perfect building? Anything in between? Express your voice and be heard. Leave a review at Go Home NY.

Be Heard at Go Home NY

Be heard! Leave your apartment, condo, and coop building reviews at Go Home NY! Know a building's managers are awful? Have the inside line on a perfect building? Anything in between? Express your voice and be heard. Leave a review at Go Home NY.

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