USAToday asks: Could taking public transportation help you lose weight? Probably, but if you live in Chicago you’ll be thin and broke after you lose your job for being late 10 times in two weeks. [USAToday]

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  1. jamesdenver says:

    I live 9 miles from my job and bike to work most days. (Unless it’s really snowy, slushy, or rainy.)

    I wouldn’t have it any other way. I arrive refreshed after a good ride, it gives me more energy throughout the day and carries on into the evening, and I get cardio time in during commuting – at a time when I’d be sitting in a car.

    And my route is near bus and rail lines so if weather turns nasty during the day I can grab a ride home.

    Yes some do work way to far to commute by transit or bike – but many don’t, and would serve themselves well by walking/transit or exploring some bikeable routes.

    james [www.futuregringo.com]

  2. AD8BC says:

    Yeah but you have to get up earlier to bike to work…. that’s the deal breaker for me…, as well as the physical exertion required.

    I actually like taking public transportation… I won’t go without my personal vehicle but when it makes sense, I’ll do it.

    I live not far (1/2 mile) from a station that serves the TRE train that runs between downtown Dallas and Fort Worth. If I need to be in either of those places, I use it. It also makes a convenient stop near the airport so sometimes I use it to avoid airport parking.

    It won’t get me to my office though. If it did, I’d probably use it.

  3. UpsetPanda says:

    I wouldn’t mind taking the metro to work, except the nearest metro stop to me in Northern Virginia is 20 minutes away…and it only takes 35 to drive to work. Even if it were walking distance from my house, it’s likely that I would have to get on the metro a whole hour to hour and a half earlier than I need to be at work, to account for the stops and delays. And when when I did get to the metro stop near work, I have to walk a few blocks. And where I work, I don’t want to walk anywhere, especially not by myself. Maybe it’s because everything looks really old that I get the feeling it is unsafe…or maybe it’s the shootings at the mall down the street, or the sexual assaults in the area lately.

    I’ll continue driving to work and working out at a gym, but if there were a public transportation solution, I just might use it.

  4. Ex_EA_Slave says:

    Yep, the Chicago public transit system is pretty miserable as far as equipment, employee courtesy, and being on time is concerned. Maybe I was just spoiled by BART.

  5. Dead Wrestlers Society says:

    @UpsetPanda: I used to live in Arlington and would walk about 20 minutes a day to get to the Ballston stop. I ended up on the orange line and then pick up the red line at metro center to get to Bethesda. It would normally take 1-1.5 hours each way. Looking back on that now, I don’t know how I ever did that.

  6. @Ex_EA_Slave: The CTA is gross… Add picking up a communicable disease to the Chicago transit bad-things list.

  7. filmsnack says:

    @Ex_EA_Slave: I never lived in a city with any real public transportation system (*cough*losangeles*cough) before moving to Chicago, and I still think it sucks.

  8. @AD8BC: But 9 miles on a bike is probably 1/2 hour. I think that’s how long I take. My perfect job I want is about a mile away from my house in town. I hope I get it one day. I’ll walk everyday.

  9. matto says:

    In SF, I could take the bus to/from work, which takes me an hour and 20 minutes each way, or drive for 20 minutes each way and pay $10 for parking across the street from my office.

    Is my time worth more than $10/hour? Yep.

  10. jamesdenver says:

    @Git Em SteveDave:

    My commute with lights is 40 to work and 35 home. (a bit uphill into work)

    Driving in the morning commute varies 20-30 minutes, but going home it can be 40-50.

    So yeah it evens out – and it’s an hour or so daily investment in my health and happiness

  11. @jamesdenver: During the summer months, I ride my bike to my local bank branch rather than driving because it’s close by (~6 miles). I love shooting past traffic while it’s all jammed up.

    Quick question, what attire do you wear? Bike have mud flaps, etc….?

  12. rhombopteryx says:

    @matto:

    So if you were charged the full impact (congestion pricing, pollution costs, unsubsidized price of gas) of driving your car to work, what would be the $/hr. that’d make you switch?

  13. kretara says:

    I took public transportation a few time when I lived in Boston. It mostly sucked, unless you had plenty of time to kill.
    When I lived in Brighton I could either drive to work or take the ‘T’ to downtown Boston. I could make the drive in 20 minutes. Another 10 minutes to park and I was at work. If I took the ‘T’ (B, C or D lines) I could count on at least a 40 minute commute and quite often a 60 minute commute.
    When I moved to Roslindale MA., I would drive the 30-45 minutes to get to Allston instead of wasting the 2-3 hours it would take to use public transportation.

    All this and never leaving Boston (ok, I did travel through Brookline…but come on!!)

  14. matto says:

    I zero balance my commute’s externalities by fellating Al Gore every week.

  15. ancientsociety says:

    @filmsnack: @AngrySicilian: @Ex_EA_Slave: And let’s not forget, even though the RTA just had a budget shortage, we can now give free rides to seniors, disabled, and veterans. Well, at least until next year, when the CTA will beg for even more money and the middle class will end up paying for it.

  16. jamesdenver says:

    i just wear shorts and a t-shirt – and some layers/gloves during winter. I keep some shirts/pants at works so change when I get in.

    I’m not all Lance Armstrong and don’t suit up with lycra and eight water bottles. I don’t have fenders as I use my road bike, but do have lights for when it gets dark early. And I have a “rack trunk” for the back carrying a couple layers, lunch, and doing errands en route home.

    I share a car with my other half – and having one car between two people has the best financial decision we ever made.

    If you’re a utility cyclist it takes a bit of logistics to start, but well worth it in the long term. As long as you don’t care about everyone thinking you’re poor because you’re riding a bike for transportation in the U.S.

  17. dariaclone says:

    I love the shoutout to the disaster that is CTA. Thank god I don’t have to be to work at a set time. If I did, I would never rely on CTA. We waited 30 minutes for a train with space available; gave up and looked for a cab; when a bus came we took it. And as a average-height, pregnant woman can I add that handles or straps on the bus and train that I could reach would make me feel a lot safer. I don’t need a seat. I just don’t want to fall! But I suppose the balancing act is really about as good as one of those Bosu balls, or whatever they are calle.d

  18. Here’s something interesting: As a provision of the clean air act, Federal Employees are given assistance in affording public transport. In DC, this is huge. I get $60/month in DC Metro Bucks to do $56 worth of commuting. As to exercise, let’s see, I walk across the street to get the bus, walk a wee bit to get the train, then half a mile to Labor (lazy people take the train up a stop, then switch lines for one stop and cross the street). So, it’s possible. It’s not a lot of motion, but it’s better than nothing.

    In KC, my temp duty station, I get a bus pass. I walk between 3 blocks and 8 blocks to get the bus/get home from the bus, and nothing at work. Again, it is what you make it. If you want to take public trans and not move, it can happen. If you want to make it active, that can happen too.

  19. UpsetPanda says:

    @Dead Wrestlers Society: Metro Center is a nightmare. I try to avoid it as much as possible when I go into D.C. I wish I only had a 20 minute walk to a metro stop. Mine is 20 minutes driving. And there’s nowhere to walk, you have to take a highway to get to it.

  20. theblackdog says:

    @PotKettleBlack: If I didn’t get the subsidy, I would not ride Metro to work since my commute is long enough that I hit the fare cap ($4.50 each way).

    I will ride it into DC though, if only to avoid dealing with the hassle of parking.

  21. UpsetPanda says:

    @theblackdog: Yeah, no amount of Metro fare or time can override that a lot of places in D.C. charge you $15 to park.

  22. @jamesdenver: I got a bike from my old job(MBNA) for taking mass transit. They gave you $100 towards purchasing your tickets, and you got “points” when you signed into work. They had mystery days which were more points, etc… I got enough to get a Jeep full suspension mountain bike. I upgraded to hybrid tires so I can hit my local park, but it’s easier to pedal on the road.

    I’m guessing your rack(I have one too) is acting like a mudflap. I don’t carry bottles, I have a old camelbak(70oz) that I use when biking and walking, and use my bottle holder to hold my homemade RC-car -battery-powered-LED-flashlight battery pack. I also have a old trip computer to gauge my distance/speed.

  23. I forgot to mention, my bus/train combo takes 40 minutes. Driving into DC is not really an option. No parking and traffic is abyssmal. Oh, and I pay gas, whereas you pay my metro through federal taxes, and DC residents subsidize it.

    If you read books or the newspaper, public transit is the bomb.

  24. @Dead Wrestlers Society: Why would you live so far from where you worked?

  25. @theblackdog: The subsidy is nice though.

    If you’ve done your real estate homework, you see how metro availability drives up rents/home prices.

  26. nequam says:

    In Boston, some subway lines are better than others. It’s a good deal for me because: (1) my commute is less than 25 minutes door-to-door (including walking a couple of blocks on either end); (2) my monthly pass ($59) gets deducted from my pay pre-tax; (3) MA has an income tax deduction for commuter expenses. My alternative would be a 15-minute drive and daily parking would cost $30. As an added benefit, I only put gas in my car’s tank a grand total of 9 times last year.

  27. neithernor says:

    @matto: Really? You’d rather do that than take mass transit?

  28. filmsnack says:

    @dariaclone: I’m in the same boat. But last week I actually HAD to get to work at a particular time. It should be 30 minutes, door-to-door, and I left my house more than 45 minutes before I needed to be at work. After waiting for over 20 minutes for a bus (during rush hour, on a main artery), I ended up taking a cab to work. Ironically, that was the day my bus route would have been eliminated had the 8th last-minute bailout in a row hadn’t taken place.

    My personal favorite thing about the CTA situation is that when you rode my bus prior to the last bailout, while it was still slated for elimination, there was a recorded message letting passengers know when the bus would eventually stop existing if the CTA didn’t get it’s money. The date was badly dubbed in because they had to keep changing it with every successive bailout. It was like calling Moviefone.

  29. filmsnack says:

    @filmsnack: Please excuse the “it’s/its” swapout. I hate me. It’s Friday.

  30. FightOnTrojans says:

    @neithernor: Well… he does live in SF…

  31. juri squared says:

    In a sad not-really-coincidence, my brother’s commute into Chicago took three hours today because his Metra train broke down. He still has to put in 8 hours so he probably won’t get home til after 9 tonight.

  32. deadlizard says:

    @filmsnack: Chicago looks like real mass
    transit, but it’s almost as effective as L.A.’s. For a city with real
    mass transit try New York or San Francisco.

  33. sburnap42 says:

    @Ex_EA_Slave: Yup, BART is a great system. I’ve been using it for twelve years, and it’s rarely late. I think I was only delayed more than a half hour once or twice.

  34. camille_javal says:

    I know someone who takes the VRE into DC, then the red line – it’s not cheap, but neither is gas – it takes him about an hour to get to and from work, but he prefers that to sitting in traffic on 95 South, which is inevitably… god, I hate that road.

  35. jamar0303 says:

    I lived in Nashville for a year and a half. It’s like they don’t WANT their bus system to succeed. They stick stops in the most random places and I usually had a comfortable ride because the bus was near-empty. It has potential- if they’d advertise it.

  36. Artnchicken says:

    I don’t drive- I leave it up to Portland’s public transport. It’s pretty decent, plus it’s free downtown (though I buy a monthly pass since I live outside downtown). They have a Transit Tracker system where you can look online or call a number to find out when your bus is coming; you can’t trust the schedules though since the bus always comes at a different time.

    You can take the MAX light-rail from the airport to downtown easily, which is awesome for travelers.

  37. rsd212 says:

    Really? CTA is *that* bad? I take the red line daily to work from the north end down into the loop. Work 9-5:30. Never been late, almost always get a seat, even in peak times. I’ve always found it can get me to where I need to be on time…

  38. martyf says:

    I’m the opposite. I’ve been on mass transit for 13 years, and I’ve been driving more and more.
    Why? Because there’s no parking after 6:10 AM at the bus stop where I start my trip. At this point, I’m waking up at 5:00 AM just so I can get a parking space. They can’t/won’t add parking , and at $55 a ticket for illegally parking where I can near the bus stop, you can add all the congestion fees you want, you’re not getting close to the cost of dealing with parking fines.

  39. taka2k7 says:

    @PotKettleBlack: Yeah, most military bases will pay for your monthly bus pass.

    I’m 21 miles from work. I live about 5 miles from the nearest express bus straight to work. I’m tempted. If gas prices stayed north of $3 for a while and I wasn’t moving in June, I’d be all over it. I’m just not a morning person, so getting up earlier to drive to catch the bus doesn’t always work (weak excuse). Still, savings $15 a week, not to mention insurance and mx savings, would be nice.

  40. Starfury says:

    When I worked in Sunnyvale (Silicon Valley) it was 20 miles from home so a bike was out of the question. I could take public transit…but the 2 trains I’d have to take would be more expensive/time consuming than driving 45 min each way.

    Now I work 15 miles from work but start at 5am. There is no public transit that early, my carpool buddy and I can’t even use the carpool lane for the bridge because it doesn’t start until 5am.

    Overall: Public transit sucks. BART is good if I want to go to SF.

  41. theblackdog says:

    @UpsetPanda: Since I don’t actually work in DC, I don’t have to pay for parking at work, but they are reducing spaces to encourage more people to take PT or carpool.

  42. theblackdog says:

    @PotKettleBlack: Oh yeah, living near a metro station has definitely driven up prices, and now that they’re looking at developing the land right by the station, it’s going to go up further.

  43. theblackdog says:

    @UpsetPanda: Oh yeah, and there’s also the fact that if there is no nearby parking garage, good luck trying to find parking on the street that is anywhere near your destination.