One of the biggest fears I had about making the move from the city to the burbs, was commuting to NYC. The thought of not being able to jump on the subway, or grab a cab in a pinch, was terrifying. I couldn’t imagine planning my life around a train schedule. While public transportation in the city sounds convenient, the reality isn’t always as pretty. Prior to moving, I lived on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and worked in the West Village. My daily hour long journey (as I referred to it at the time) consisted of either 3 subway trains; downtown, across town and downtown again, or the crosstown bus/downtown subway train combo. Trying to get the 4,5 or 6 train was like being cattle herded, standing 6 people deep and watching multiple trains go by. Then having the pleasure of being squashed into likely, someone’s armpit (I’m short) or face to face with a stranger, in the train car. And then, when it rained, all bets were off. Despite this daily stressful journey, the thought of having to cross a river, was for more terrifying.
To my surprise however, my daily commute, from NJ into the city, actually became a time of day I looked forward too. It began with a quick 10 minute ride on the Maplewood jitney. Both Maplewood and South Orange have jitneys, or shuttle buses, which stop every few blocks, along different neighborhood routes and drop you at the train station. They are intelligently timed to sync with the midtown direct train times. At the station, you can get coffee or breakfast and chat pleasantly with fellow commuters, in a nice, clean environment. Once on the train, comfortably in a seat, I had 20-30 minutes to do whatever I wanted, be it catch up on work, read a magazine or take a catnap (my activity of choice). All of a sudden, I had to 20-30 minutes, each way, of me time! A welcome break from work, kids, chores! Upon arriving at Penn Station, I walked to my subway line and took it two stops to my office. All in all, making for a relatively easy and less stressful commute vs. what I had been doing for years, in the city.
I will not paint this all in rose colored glasses and tell you that NJ Transit does not have its issues. Without a doubt, it does. On occasion a train breaks down, the weather wreaks havoc or a passenger gets sick, but in reality, it is no different than when an NYC subway train gets held up or the crosstown bus is at a dead stop in traffic. And, at least when something goes wrong, I’m in my own seat, with my iPhone and snacks and not sandwiched between 3 other people in a subway car stuck in a tunnel!
The best part of my commute is stepping off the train, back in Maplewood, at the end of a spring day, hearing the birds chirp and seeing the blooming flowers. Cheesy as it may sound, it’s almost impossible to bring city stress home when you get to step home into Maplewood. If you are interested in exploring SOMA or learning more about the commute, reach out to me at www.Robin.KeytoNewJersey.com