Wednesday, September 9, 2015

What is your commute costing you?

I’m a busy human and a Software Development Professional.  My passion is to seek out ways to create more effective ways to manage time and achieve goals.

One of my biggest irritants is wasted time in traffic.  I work in the Washington DC area which according to Forbes is 8th on the list of worst rush hour traffic.

So what.  SO WHAT!? Let’s measure the impact on this in terms of our productivity, scientific advancement and financial impact.  Look at this statistic…

“The Texas Transportation Institute estimated that, in 2000, the 75 largest metropolitan areas experienced 3.6 billion vehicle-hours of delay, resulting in 5.7 billion U.S. gallons (21.6 billion liters) in wasted fuel and $67.5 billion in lost productivity, or about 0.7% of the nation's GDP. It also estimated that the annual cost of congestion for each driver was approximately $1,000 in very large cities and $200 in small cities. Traffic congestion is increasing in major cities and delays are becoming more frequent in smaller cities and rural areas.”
Yipe!  So, doing the math, if you work in DC for 20 years and commute you could be costing yourself $20,000. And that’s just the financial impact.  We haven’t yet calculated the cost in lost innovation, lost time with family, and lost time to live life.

Hah. Not to worry.  I have some ideas that can help us all achieve better results personally.

  1. Find an alternative route
  2. Utilize public transit … many suburbians (like myself) don’t have this option.
  3. Do something productive with your time...educate yourself with audio books, safely makes some hands-free mobile calls
  4. Work at home … ah the dream.

Let’s tackle some ideas from #1

Route finding...having an adventure in your daily commute.

The first step here is to break out the google map and find some interesting way to get to-and-from your current destination.  I recommend travelling down just about every road possible to find alternatives. It could take some time, but you might just enjoy the adventure.  In the eastern United States it’s easy to find multiplicity of route options because the roads wind here and there. In the western US I think it is probably more difficult.

Try everything.  You’ll probably find that most roads are not faster than the main highway on average.  However, some smaller, back country, roads can be a lot less stressful.  If they are not less stressful...then it’s probably not a good alternative.

There are a couple mobile apps that you can use on your commute to determine real time if the main route is better or worse than your alternative route:  ‘Commute” and ‘INRIX’.  I’ll talk more about these in a separate post.

So your homework is to check out some new routes to the office.  Also check out some commuting and traffic apps.  Maybe if you reduce your stress or enjoy the beauty of your commute, you might find the drive better.  Although that is helpful for your health, we still need to capture back some of the waisted $1000/year.  More on that later.

Please leave comments.

-All the Best, Steve