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  #1  
Old Posted Nov 5, 2007, 5:31 AM
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Coffee, music fuel grueling commutes

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07309/830812-185.stm

Coffee, music fuel grueling commutes


Frank Franklin II/Associated Press
Commuters navigate their way through rush hour traffic in New York City.DETROIT -- Every weekday morning before 5:15, Neil Bunting pulls his gold 2007 Kia Spectra out of his driveway in Bay City, Mich., and heads to work.

Awake since 4 a.m., the 55-year-old project manager is armed with coffee, blues CDs and, sometimes, an audiobook.

For the next 90 minutes to 2 hours -- and again in the evening when he retraces his treads -- Mr. Bunting will live a commuter's nightmare, driving 112 miles to and from EWI Worldwide, an exhibit-creation company in Livonia, Mich.

Mr. Bunting is one of an estimated 3.1 million Americans whom researchers call extreme commuters, people who travel more than 90 minutes to work each way, according to the most recent U.S. Census data.

"I get a lot of reactions. Some people think I'm crazy," said Mr. Bunting, who started his current job 14 months ago.

Commutes have been rising for several decades. But they tend to increase especially during periods of joblessness and belt-tightening, leading people to increase the radius of their job searches.

"There's not a lot of work up this way, especially in what I do," said Mr. Bunting, previously a 25-mile commuter. "There's a few other employers a little bit closer who fit the type of work I do, but this is one of the better choices."

For 22-year-old Adrienne Procopio, accepting a job -- her first -- 90 minutes away from her parents' house in downtown Detroit was a no-brainer: She can save money living at home even with the $120 she spends each week to fill up her 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

"People think I'm crazy. They don't know how I do it," said Ms. Procopio, who graduated in May from Central Michigan University and is an account executive at Franco Public Relations. "When I got hired, people said, 'You're going to move closer?' "

But for Ms. Procopio, extreme commutes are a family tradition. Her father, Jack Procopio, for years has commuted 1 1/2 to 2 hours to his job at a specialty food company.

"Because he's been doing that since I was little, I always thought when you grow up, everyone drives 1 1/2 hours to work," she said. "I thought it was normal."

According to Denise Reiling, an associate professor of sociology at Eastern Michigan University, extreme commutes can have several public health and safety implications.

These include nutritional problems from increased in-car snacking, more cigarettes for the bored or stressed-out smoker, blood clots and other circulation troubles because of prolonged sitting, and accidents caused by distracted, drowsy or daydreaming drivers.

In addition, commute time is the second-biggest factor in sleep deprivation, according to University of Pennsylvania doctors who analyzed U.S. Department of Labor data from 2003 to 2005. Failing to get enough sleep can cause health problems, memory loss and attention deficits, all of which can affect job performance.

American and Canadian researchers have calculated that every hour a person spends in a car increases your chance of becoming obese by 6 percent. Obesity in turn can cause high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and asthma.

But Ms. Reiling sees some positives, too.

"A longer commute can be beneficial. There's some sort of symbolic distance from the workplace," she explained. "You're caught between two worlds, a stressful home and a stressful workplace. A long commute can be a godsend. All those minutes, shut the cell phone off and no one can ever find you."

Few people see the increasing willingness to undertake long-distance commutes more than headhunters.

"We find a lot of people willing to drive a lot longer than they used to," said Mark Angott of the Rochester, Mich.-based Angott Search Group. "People would say, 'Thirty, 40 minutes, fine,' and now people say, 'Jeez, I'll drive more than an hour.'"

Carolyn Grabarczyk, of Williamston, Mich., who has commuted 62 miles each way for the past seven years, said she doesn't want to move because of family.

Instead, the 58-year-old had to make some lifestyle changes to accommodate her commute. She schedules late haircut appointments and has switched from a Chevy Blazer to a silver 2006 Impala for better gas mileage.

"People are always surprised that you use that number of hours in a day," said Ms. Grabarczyk, an executive administrator at Lumigen, a chemical luminescence company. "Leave at 7 and get back at 6. You only have three productive hours remaining."

Moving isn't an option for Mr. Bunting either, who said that he and his wife had discussed the possibility.

"We like where we are, and the housing market's so bad now to resell and buy, we'd probably lose on both ends," he said.
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  #2  
Old Posted Nov 5, 2007, 7:27 AM
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That Michigan commuter is completely insane, because he has absolutely no excuse.

Metro Detroit traffic isn't that bad and housing prices are extremely affordable. The only reason I could imagine for such a ridiculous commute would be under temporary circumstances for a family emergency. Even then, I don't see the point when you are only home to sleep and shower.
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  #3  
Old Posted Nov 5, 2007, 2:30 PM
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"Carolyn Grabarczyk.... said she doesn't want to move because of family... Leave at 7 and get back at 6. You only have three productive hours remaining."

So she wants to spend quality time with family, but because of her absurd commute she doesn't HAVE any time...
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  #4  
Old Posted Nov 5, 2007, 4:49 PM
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Quote:
"Because he's been doing that since I was little, I always thought when you grow up, everyone drives 1 1/2 hours to work," she said. "I thought it was normal."
AAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHA!!!


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  #5  
Old Posted Nov 5, 2007, 5:04 PM
totheskies totheskies is offline
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yeah, my "grueling commute" takes 50min by bus/rail, or 25 min by car in rush hour traffic. But oh wait, with gas shooting up ANOTHER ten cents this weekend, it is now unquestionably cheaper to take the bus. Thanks METRO.
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  #6  
Old Posted Nov 5, 2007, 7:45 PM
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ugh, does this filth even consider the environment?
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  #7  
Old Posted Nov 5, 2007, 8:01 PM
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Quote:
"A longer commute can be beneficial. There's some sort of symbolic distance from the workplace," she explained. "You're caught between two worlds, a stressful home and a stressful workplace. A long commute can be a godsend. All those minutes, shut the cell phone off and no one can ever find you."
Wow. If the highlight of your day is commuting it is clearly time to take an honest look at yourself and your life.
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  #8  
Old Posted Nov 5, 2007, 10:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MayDay View Post
"Carolyn Grabarczyk.... said she doesn't want to move because of family... Leave at 7 and get back at 6. You only have three productive hours remaining."

So she wants to spend quality time with family, but because of her absurd commute she doesn't HAVE any time...
Notice how many examples are from Michigan? Frankly, its quite common, but I've seen worse. One of my professors here in Cleveland, lives in Columbus, and works for the Canadian Government in Detroit. Last year on of my professors was full time here in Cleveland and at UCLA.
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  #9  
Old Posted Nov 5, 2007, 11:11 PM
Jeff_in_Dayton Jeff_in_Dayton is offline
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Do you think people are underestimating their commutes? I've noticed this in casual conversation, where people unconciously (I think) undercount the time.
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  #10  
Old Posted Nov 6, 2007, 5:14 AM
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commuting in metro detroit sucks period. the arterial roads suck, the highway tarmac is equally sucky (potholes and fill), people drive too fast, and outside of ann arbor, there are virtually no alternative transit options.....i used to think nothing of driving 50 minutes just to go to the "cool" record stores in royal oak and now i freak out when im in traffic for more then 30 minutes here in portland.
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  #11  
Old Posted Nov 6, 2007, 8:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Attrill View Post
Wow. If the highlight of your day is commuting it is clearly time to take an honest look at yourself and your life.
absolutely...though I once worked w. a woman who lived about 1/2 hour way , but sold a perfectly good, but modest, house in arlington heights (near chicago) for a nearly1.5 hour commute for some development out in mchenry county...on snow days sometimes she wouldn't even make it. I commuted from chicago via car pool or bike depending on weather....that was 40-45 minutes....thats enough

jezzuz....you are up for theoretically 8 hours...8 hours working more like ten....really yo should sleep 7-8

man where is your life going?
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  #12  
Old Posted Nov 6, 2007, 8:20 AM
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man my commute ranges from 20-40 minutes tops....depeding if I bike (40 minutes) or take metra (20 minutes) funny thing ...ther worse the weather the shorter my commute....I hope you suckers are jealous
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  #13  
Old Posted Nov 6, 2007, 1:06 PM
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ugh...welcome to Northern California.
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  #14  
Old Posted Nov 6, 2007, 1:32 PM
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Originally Posted by pdxtex View Post
commuting in metro detroit sucks period. ...people drive too fast
Well, if you kept your slow ass out of the left lane then you wouldn't have a problem . In Michigan speed limits are de facto "minimum limits" except in really bad weather.
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  #15  
Old Posted Nov 6, 2007, 1:58 PM
Cambridgite Cambridgite is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pdxtex View Post
commuting in metro detroit sucks period. the arterial roads suck, the highway tarmac is equally sucky (potholes and fill), people drive too fast, and outside of ann arbor, there are virtually no alternative transit options.....i used to think nothing of driving 50 minutes just to go to the "cool" record stores in royal oak and now i freak out when im in traffic for more then 30 minutes here in portland.
At least you can actually drive fast. In Metro Toronto, it's faster to get out of your car and walk.



Glad I'm not commuting there.
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  #16  
Old Posted Nov 6, 2007, 5:03 PM
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Metro Detroit commuting is great. Traffic generally moves, even on the most congested corridors. Drivers tend to be much more courteous than in other cities.
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  #17  
Old Posted Nov 6, 2007, 5:46 PM
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I like coffee and music time....

But yeah, overall commuting is a pain and a waste of valuable time.
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  #18  
Old Posted Nov 6, 2007, 6:13 PM
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I've considered making a move that would requires a 2-hour commute in the past. I just can't justify it... it's insane.
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  #19  
Old Posted Nov 7, 2007, 2:42 AM
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This just goes to show one aspect of the failure of auto-centric planning. I just returned from visiting a friend in LA, and she routinely spends about 2 - 2 1/2 hours of her day driving to/from work. Of course, this is "normal" in LA, and becoming more so elsewhere -- because our cities aren't planned with viable alternatives. It's sad when someone drives so much, and then, like the woman from Williamston, MI, buys a slightly more fuel-efficient car to save a few bucks on gas (or cut their carbon emissions by 7% ??), and that's the best we can do in 2007?

I understand people, esp. in this country, don't like parting with their cars -- but there oughta be some decent alternatives. Here in Portland, you are pretty unlikely to see a freeway over 6 lanes, and despite increasing congestion it won't change soon, so the traffic is definitely worsening. BUT -this appraoch is deliberate, and there is a land-use system / mass transit system that at least provides some fairly easy alternatives. Light-rail and buses move people around well, and even if it takes longer to get home sometimes.....they're at least not contributing to global warming like single-occupancy cars do. Oh yeah, and no road rage on a train.

My friend and I were slogging down the 101 Freeway thru LA in 12-14 lanes of thick traffic on a Sunday night at 9 pm, and she turned to me and asked, "Do we really think we can keep all this going in 20 years?"
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Old Posted Nov 7, 2007, 3:07 AM
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But the thing is, commutes are not that long on average. This is only a very small number of people doing these extreme commutes.

Infact, the average person even in the largest metro areas only commutes something like 20-25min. That is hardly a hellish commute.

The pro-car people actually use those stats to show that cars have decreased the time people spend commuting.

We all know the average transit rider spends much more time to get to work, yet we don't complain about that.

People sit one hour in a car, or one hour in a bus. Its still one hour no matter what.

So overall, the commutes are not that bad for most people. And really if it is anyone putting up with ultra long commutes, its usually us transit riders.

Just me for example. Would take me 20-30min to drive to work. Takes me 45-60min via public transit. I still take the transit, but the point still is I along with thousands of others are taking just as much time to get to work as someone with an extreme commute.


Quote:
My friend and I were slogging down the 101 Freeway thru LA in 12-14 lanes of thick traffic on a Sunday night at 9 pm, and she turned to me and asked, "Do we really think we can keep all this going in 20 years?"
The sad thing though is that people will not switch untill transit actually speeds itself up. Even with the slogging traffic, it still beats taking transit when it comes to travel time.
I just got back from downtown with my parents. I could not get my dad to take the train down there today. And why? Because even in slogging traffic, the car was still faster then taking the train. And the commute back home was even faster. People will continue to sit in traffic untill the transit system actually can move faster then rush hour traffic. And sadly even in the most transit friendly cities, the transit often still can't beat someone driving in rush hour traffic.
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