The average amount of time Indy folks spend commuting hasn’t increased since last year, according to the IBJ. The headline suggests that this is a positive finding. We should all cheer.
An Indianapolis commuter spends an average of 41 hours in freeway delays during rush hour each year, according to a study by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. Forty-one hours–an entire week of one’s life, each and every year–spent behind the wheel, looking at someone else’s tail lights.
What could you do with that week? Read a book, play with your children, volunteer for a charity…sleep? Make love?
I’ve always had difficulty understanding the folks who live in far-flung suburbs, and willingly trade convenience for the privilege of mowing more grass. My own commute is less than 2 miles, and during rush hour can take up to 8 minutes, so I’m not the most empathetic person to be commenting on the waste of time involved. But let’s do a thought experiment: what if Indianapolis had real mass transit?
By “real,” I mean public transportation with 5 or at most 10-minute headways, on clean and comfortable trains or buses with wi-fi. Such a transportation system wouldn’t just improve the environment by saving lots of carbon emissions. It wouldn’t just jump-start the local economy by getting employees to work. It wouldn’t just encourage smart urban growth.
It would give that average Indianapolis commuter a week of his or her life back. Every year.
The grass aficionados could have their cake and eat it too: they could spend their commuting week reading, emailing, working–or just listening to music. Or sleeping. (Sex probably isn’t an option.)
If I were one of the people spending a week of every year stuck in traffic, I’d be down at the Indiana Statehouse demanding the right to hold a referendum. And if the micro-managing legislators actually allowed us a measure of self-determination, I’d beat the drums for a positive vote–and my chance to recapture that lost week.