A Commute of Endless Choices

Written by Margo Levy on . Posted in News Our Town, News Our Town Downtown, News West Side Spirit.


Transportation Choices_fmtManhattanites have more options than ever for getting around the city – and we tried them all

Just a few years ago, New Yorkers only had a few options for their daily commutes—you could take the subway, hail a yellow cab, order a car service or walk. Nowadays, though, it feels as though our options are limitless.

From Citi Bike to Uber, getting to work has never been easier.

A few weeks ago, I started trying different ways to get from my Upper West Side apartment, on Central Park West between 84th and 85th Streets, to my 7th Avenue office in Chelsea, at 28th Street, and back. I recorded the time, price and any other factors that may have added to my daily commute while considering one simple question: what’s the best way to get to and from work?

I tried several car services, biking, walking and public transportation, and all had their distinct advantages and disadvantages.

After trying virtually everything, however, my favorite way of getting to work remains the trusty subway. I love my morning walk to Broadway to catch the 1 train, which allows me to stop at my favorite neighborhood bodega for an iced coffee and a newspaper. Nothing can beat the silent passengers and noisy train to help me ease in or out of my day at work.

Taxi

Time: 19 minutes

Cost: $19.80

Route: Up 10th Avenue

The Good: Great air conditioning

The Bad: My driver’s lurchy driving

On a Monday, I took a taxi home from work. I waited outside my office for about a minute and a half before I was able to flag down a yellow cab. When I got in the car I was happy to sit down in the roomy, air-conditioned back seat. The driver took 10th Avenue uptown and before I knew it I was home.

Bus

Time: 1 hour and 2 minutes

Cost: $2.50

Route: M7 bus uptown

The Good: Time to relax

The Bad: The 6th Avenue traffic

On Monday evening, I walked from work to the M7 bus stop at 6th Avenue and 28th Street. Although the M10 has a stop closer to my house, I find I easier to take one bus and just walk 2-3 blocks rather than transfer at Columbus Circle. The bus arrived two minutes early, at 4:09 p.m., pulling into the stop just as I got there. There weren’t many people so I was able to find a seat for the entirety of my ride.The traffic on 6th Avenue moved rather slowly, however, so traveling for about 30 blocks, including all the stops made, encompassed the first 40 minutes of my ride. Once we turned onto Central Park South, the traffic was much smoother. I imagine this would be a rather uncomfortable ride if I had had to stand.

Subway

Time: 36 minutes

Cost: $2.50

Route: Walked to the 1 train, stopped for coffee and a paper

The Good: Time to read the paper

The Bad: Sweat stains from the hot platform

On Wednesday morning I took the subway in to work. The C train is closest to my house, but I prefer to walk a few extra blocks to the 1 train so I can avoid a transfer at 59th street. I left at 9:20 a.m., and stopped for a coffee and a paper on my way to the station. After I walked the three long avenues to the train, the bottoms of my feet ached and I was pretty sweaty. The 5 minute wait on the underground platform didn’t do much to help my sweat problem either. When the train arrived, I packed onto it with all the other morning commuters and held on to a railing as the subway moved downtown. After another few stops, I was able to get a seat, and then the time flew by until I arrived at the 28th street stop.

Uber

Time: 28 minutes

Cost: $20.57

Route: Up 10th avenue

The Good: My driver’s salsa music playing on the radio

The Bad: The 10th Avenue traffic that day

Last Wednesday I ordered my first Uber ride to get home from work. At around 4:58 p.m. I requested a car, and by 5:01, the screen of the app notified me that my driver was here. I rushed downstairs to find a man holding an Uber sign waiting for me off the corner of 28th Street and 7th Avenue. The car was clean, air-conditioned and comfortable. When I asked him how the pricing works for Uber, my driver had a difficult time explaining, but mumbled something about distance and time. We took 10th Avenue up and there was much more traffic than usual. Unlike a taxi, Uber does not display a rising meter so I was a little anxious about the rising cost as I sat in traffic. When I arrived home, though, my cab driver told me that tip was included and that I was free to go. Even though the ride had taken me 10 more minutes than my yellow cab, it was only $.77 more expensive. I was a little uneasy about it when I got out because I couldn’t choose my tip, but since that first ride, I have used Uber two more times.

Walking

Time: 56 minutes

Cost: free

Route: Up 7th avenue to Central Park West

The Good: Getting some fresh air

The Bad: The painful blisters

Transportation Choice_fmt1As I turned out of my office building, I was immediately confronted with an annoying amount of pedestrian traffic. I walked on 7th Avenue, and as I got higher uptown, the mobs of people only got denser. I found myself rubbing shoulders with strangers and walking at an unusually slow pace. I was happy I had decided to walk home from the office rather than in the morning, because by the time I arrived at 42nd street, my dress was completely soaked through with sweat. As I walked, I listened to my music and tried to ignore the sharp pains in my feet. Before I left, I slapped on a few layers of band aids to avoid blisters, but after a few blocks these had rubbed off, and remained sticking to the bottom of my feet. By the time I got to 57th street, I could hardly ignore the pain in my back from carrying my heavy laptop. It took all my strength not to hail down a cab or just hop on the C train back to my apartment. When I reached more familiar territory on Central Park West, I got a second wind. I powered through the last 20 blocks, but by the time I got home, my feet were very mad at me.

Gett

Time: 23 minutes

Cost: $28.49

Route: Down Central Park West, then down 7th Ave

The Good: Great conversation with my driver

The Bad: Hidden rush hour fee

At around 9:15 a.m. Monday morning, I downloaded the Gett app. I typed in my info and scanned my credit card, and soon enough, I requested a car. When I clicked “request car” the screen told me I had 3 minutes before my driver would arrive. At that same moment, I also received a text notification saying that my order had gone through, and that my car was on the way. About 2 minutes later I got another text informing me that my driver was downstairs. As I was throwing my laptop into my bag, I received a call from my driver telling me that he was downstairs. Outside my lobby, a white BMW was waiting for me. The car was extremely comfortable and clean, and in the background I could hear classical music. I told my driver where I was going, and off we went down Central Park West. On our way, my driver explained that he had initially expected to join the Uber team, but decided on Gett instead because he was able to use the company’s car, and all expenses were covered. When we arrived at 28th street, the paying process was similar to uber in that there was none.

When I got out of my car, the driver told me it was $19.20, but when I went on the app two days later, I learned it was actually $28.49. When I ordered the car, it notified me that there was a $5 rush hour fee, but I had assumed it was included in the price I saw at the end of the ride. Either way, the price difference is more than $5, so I assume that tip was also not included.

Citi Bike

Time: 55 minutes

Cost: $9.35

Route: 8th Avenue station to 59th Street station

The Good: Exercise

The Bad: My road rage directed at street pedestrians

Never again. Riding a Citi Bike through midtown was very stressful. I walked from my office to 8th Avenue to pick up a bike. The process of getting the bike out of its holder took ten minutes alone. The credit card machines are delayed and require you to type in all sorts of information. Also, the shortest amount of time to rent a bike is 24 hours, which costs $10. After I got my bike, I rode up 8th Avenue, going with the traffic. During the 25 minutes that I was on my bike, there were about seven times when I thought I was going to die. The city has created bike lanes, but on every other block there was at least one truck parked in them, forcing me to merge into car lanes. Also, pedestrians seem to think that bike lanes are a second sidewalk, forcing bikers to swerve through foot traffic. By the time I got to 59th street, I was a little bit angry and very sweaty. There are no Citi Bike stations past Columbus Circle, so I had to park my bike there and hop a subway the rest of the way home.

Car service (Dial 7 Car)

Time: 18 minutes

Cost: $28.50

Route: Central Park to 7th Avenue

The Good: Comfy back seat

The Bad: High price

At about 9:20 a.m, I ordered a dial 7 car to my building. At 9:44, I got a call from my driver telling me that he was downstairs. I found a black town car waiting for me. When I got in, my driver confirmed the address I was going to, and we sped downtown through Central Park. When the park ended, we took 7th Avenue the rest of the way. When we arrived I handed my driver my credit card, and he handed me a table to select the tip I would like to add. When I got out, a receipt was emailed to me.

Additional reporting by Mary Kekatos

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