My Transportation Diary: A Detailed Commute In Queens

By Micheline Maynard

Some people grow up driving, and find they change their ways once they move to the big city. Jason Reese, the director of strategic media at ArkNet Media in Garden City, New York, is one of them.

Here’s his contribution to My Transportation Diary. Check out his great photos and be sure to read all the way through for his detailed account.

Jason writes, “I am originally from rural eastern Tennessee, where the only way to reliably get anywhere is by car. Two years ago, I moved to Nassau County, Long Island to pursue graduate school. The town of Hempstead and its surrounding suburbs fall just outside of the borough of Queens and as such the NYC subway system.

The only reliable public transit option for local travel is the N.I.C.E. bus system, which is generally not so nice. As such, I kept my car for regular commutes to work and school, but often took the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) for trips into Manhattan.

Last week, I moved to Forest Hills in Queens, where I have a plethora of transit options available. Three blocks from my apartment are the E/F/M/R subway lines and a LIRR stop for Forest Hills, as well as several MTA bus connections. I still have my car, but to park in the garage around the block would be $300/month.

Parking around my apartment is metered 25 cents per 15 min from 9am-7pm and is very competitive outside those times, so I park free in a residential area about five blocks away. 

I commute Monday through Friday from Forest Hills to work in Garden City, which is further east in Nassau County. My company chose this office for proximity to transit (bus and LIRR) for residents using transit and driving convenience for Long island residents.

We have a flexible boss who allows an eight hour work window between 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. to allow for transit schedules.

Since I commute east away from Manhattan in the morning and west towards it in the evening, I am a “reverse commuter” and am not subject to peak LIRR fares during rush hours.

Every day, I carry my work messenger bag with a light laptop and miscellaneous items: umbrella if needed, pens, lint roller, camera (it’s basically a man purse). Three-four days per week, I also wear a drawstring bag carrying clothes/shoes for the gym after work. My gym, Equinox, provides towels, soaps, shaving needs, hair gels, etc which saves a lot of weight and bulk.

  • My daily commute to work: walk, subway, train. I usually listen to music, catch up on emails, and prepare mentally for the day.
    • Walk to Continental Ave-71st Ave Subway Station – E/F/M/R lines (5 min)
    • Take E Subway to Sutphin Ave-JFK (3 stops, 10 min)
    • Take elevator up to LIRR Mezzanine at Jamaica Station, wait for train (8 min)
    • Take 8:58am LIRR train from Jamaica Station to Country Life Press (26 min)
    • Walk to my office directly behind LIRR train platform (4 minutes)
    • Total time: 50-55 minutes (8:35am-9:30am)
  • My commute home: walk, train, subway. I usually listen to music, plan my gym workout if applicable, and clear my head after work.
    • Walk from office to LIRR train platform (4min)
    • Take 5:43pm LIRR train to from Country Life Press to Jamaica (28 min)
    • Take elevator down to Sutphin Ave-JFK Subway station (3 min)
    • Take E Subway to Manhattan 54th St/Lexington Ave. (27min, but 12 min if going straight home instead)
    • Walk 2 blocks to work out at Equinox (5 min ea. way plus 90 min workout = 100 min)
    • Take E Subway back home to Continental Ave-71st St in Forest Hills (15 min)
    • Walk to apartment (5 min)
    • Total time with workout: 3hr 2min (5:39-8:41)
    • Total time without workout: 47 min (5:39-6:26)
  • Public Transit
    • Total cost $365/month: $242/month for monthly unlimited LIRR pass, $113 for monthly unlimited subway/bus Metrocard.
    • Cost per day: $20*
    • Adjusted cost per day: $15** 
  • Driving day:  $20***
The Fine Print:
*Assume 19 days/month transit commuting, and 3 driving commutesOne day per week, the residential area where I park enforces alternate side parking for street cleaning. I can either move my car, or drive to work and complete some errands in the shopping district near my office. The drive in morning/evening traffic takes about the same amount of time, but is more stressful.
**I also use my unlimited ride LIRR pass and Metrocard for other NYC area travel. I typically go into Manhattan 2-3 times per week for personal outings via subway or train, whichever is more convenient. Assuming three additional LIRR roundtrips and 24 subway rides, the real cost of a work commute is more like $15.

***My car is a 2010 Mazda3 that averages 24 MPG in mixed, aggressive urban driving. Insurance is $2000/year. The car is paid off, and yearly maintenance is about $400. Including one driving commute, I now drive less than 100 miles a week. Gas is $3.90 on Long island right now. Cost of gas per mile is 16 cents, and cost per mile of maintenance is about 40 cents assuming 6000 miles/year. My daily drive commute is 36 miles round trip, so figure $20 for driving day. If I drove more, the cost of insurance would be further subsidized and the cost per mile would decrease.”

Thanks, Jason!

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