Bus Comes, Bus Goes II

The 354 Woburn Express (via I93) at State Street

When I took a job in Boston’s Innovation District, I assumed that I could somehow take public transit to get there. I was right, but not in the T-centric way I had thought. I ended up taking the 354 Express Bus from Montvale to State Street, then walking nearly a mile through the financial district to my renovated-brick-warehouse office. I wrote about my 354 commute back when it was new.

I’ve done this for almost 18 months now, and for 18 months it’s continued to be the best way to get to work. Oh, there are downsides. When you’re 2 minutes late for the bus, it makes you 22 minutes late to get where you’re supposed to go. Every once in a while (not that often) a bus fails to come, or comes late. Then, not only are you late but often you end up standing (or sitting on the floor – it’s a long ride.) Or – worst of all – the bus comes five minutes early. Parking at the bus stop is a very big problem, with an unused lot sitting blocked and idle while we cram our cars in to tiny cracks in the approved lot, or park a few blocks away and hoof it over a major road that has very little pedestrian traffic. And of course, that mile long walk is less fun in 16 degree weather, or with blowing-sideways rain, or in 90 degree heat with humidity.

There are some pretty awesome upsides too, though. I have done more reading in these last 18 months than I did in the five years prior. I read some books for information, some books to keep current, and plenty of books just for fun. The cast of characters I identified in those early days have become friends. There’s John, the mayor of the bus stop. Matt has an uncanny knack for arriving 2 minutes before the bus does, not matter what. Elizabeth and I have become friends on Goodreads because of our overlapping interests. Chris has read the entire Sword of Shannara series twice in my knowing him. The burly Viking I walk past on my commute is named Adrian (he’s a lawyer) and the magician is Andy, and “Grampa Munster” as I call my older friend in jeans has assiduously never made eye contact this entire time.

But tomorrow, the commute comes to an end for me.

The reason I could not just drive to work are because:
– Taking the carpool lane on this particular route can save you about 15 – 20 minutes every single day
– Parking is $15 a day
– A two+ hour stuck in traffic commute is not fun at all.
– I care enough about the environment and congestion to not want to add to the problems where it can be helped.

Let’s review why I couldn’t carpool, though.

1) It’s weird finding some random stranger to carpool with. What if you hate them? What if they kidnap you and sell you the gypsies?
2) I didn’t know anyone who worked near me and lived near me.
3) My daycare pickup/dropoff schedule is uncompromising. I CANNOT drop off before 8. (And I need to get to work by 9 for an hour and fifteen minute commute – thus my husband does most dropoffs.) I MUST pick up before 6 or there is great wrath.

So to carpool with someone, I would need to be really good friends with them. They would need to have my same rigid schedule. And they would have to live pretty close to me.


My next door neighbor and good friend, whose sons attend identical classes in school and afterschool, has had her company move headquarters. To the building next door to my building. SCORE.

So tomorrow is the start of a new regime for me… a regime where I don’t have an express bus pass for the 453 ($160/month), but I do have a parking card. We’re taking turns driving, and taking turns with whether the “guys” or the “girls” will handle kid duty on a particular day. We’ve already agreed that it needs to be perfectly kosher to read in the car instead of converse. I could hardly ask for a better setup!

It sort of feels like a time of change for me. Not only do I now have a new commute, but I also have a new desk on a new floor. On Friday, I moved my things to a new location. It’s funny how much a new spot changes your perspective on a day’s work. I’m sure I’ll get used to it quickly, but it does seem like a number of changes, all at once!

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Brenda currently lives in Stoneham MA, but grew up in Mineral WA. She is surrounded by men, with two sons, one husband and two boy cats. She plays trumpet at church, cans farmshare produce and works in software.

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