New commute & Google Maps

I’ve been an avid user of Google Maps since its early days, but now that I’ve started riding the bus to and from work, I’ve really become a fan of Google Maps.

I asked the Internet for some help the night before I embarked on my first transit on Austin’s Capital Metro. A golden nugget of advice I quickly received was “Google Maps is your friend.” This person provided me with link to a specific Google Map that had recommended bus routes highlighted. I’d never really paid attention to the Bus, Bike and Walk routes from Google. And now Google Maps really has become my friend…

Here’s my quickest bike path to the Park & Ride:

And here’s the quick and easy “Flyer” bus route from my neighborhood Park & Ride, which drops my off 1.5 blocks away from my office:

And what’s also cool is Capital Metro uses interactive Google Maps that show you the exact bus routes complete with specific pick-up and drop off times, exact schedule data and even Google Street View photos of each bus stop (just in case you’re looking for a landmark or something to find the right bus stop while on foot).

I’ve been riding the bus for a full three days now and haven’t a single complaint. As another person pointed out in my request for help in understanding Austin’s public transit, “we [bus riders] aren’t all window-lickers.” The Flyer route that travels to and from Oak Hill to downtown is just a limited-stop commuter bus, hauling folks to and from their jobs downtown. It’s a busload of approximately 50 professionals — not that I have anything against window-lickers or anything.

And for the price, well, you just can’t beat it if you have to commute to work. This week I’ve spend $6 on getting to and from work by bus (one-way for $1.00). My Jeep gets 14 miles to the gallon and at $3.50 per gallon (or whatever it is today) with a 22-mile round-trip commute, that would’ve cost me nearly $20 already this week.

This evening I went to the grocery store and bought a 31-day Metro Pass for $30, which gets me unlimited trips on any Capital Metro bus. So now my daily commute will cost me approximately $1.36 (that’s my assuming 22 working weekdays a month).

So anywhere between $200-$350 per month to drive myself, contend with rush hour traffic and allow myself to get stressed, or $30 per month to relax, read, meditate or lick windows. Those windows taste mighty good to me!

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