Since I started taking Tri-Rail to work again, I have a big-ass commute–and I have the dubious distinction of having the longest commute in my office. If my office were playing Settelers of Cataan, I would so have the Longest Commute card–and the accompanying two points.
Total distance traveled: 54.1 miles.
The first half–A to B–is on Palm-Tran Route 40. I used to take Palm Tran route 62 to the Lake Worth Tri-Rail station, but the route was very crowded, and very stop-and-go. And the worst of it: the last bus left the Lake Worth station at 6:30pm, which meant that if I had to stay late at work, I was stranded. Eventually I started driving to the Lake Worth station, but that schlep back and forth from one end of Lake Worth Road to the other–a route lousy with traffic lights every few feet–got to be too much of a pain-in-the-ass and about summertime I stopped taking Tri-Rail altogether and drove the Turnpike to work.
However, a new development came along that made me revisit my commute: Palm Tran, in cooperation with the City of Wellington, built a 140-space Park & Ride behind Fresh Market on 441 and the Mall at Wellington Green. I got an e-mail about its opening in November, and decided to check it out. Turns out that Route 40 is limited-stop service from the Mall at Wellington Green (and the new Park & Ride) to the West Palm Beach Intermodal Transit Station (a.k.a the West Palm Beach Amtrak and Tri-Rail station).
There’s only one problem with commuting to work on Route 40:
Look at how many westbound 40 buses serve the afternoon rush hour: One. One bus? Are you kidding me? That means if I take P634 from Cypress Creek, which leaves the station at a pretty reasonable 5:24 in the afternoon, I arrive at WPB-ITS at 6:15 (assuming the train is on time, a dangerous assumption nowadays) and have to wait an hour for the 7:15 Westbound 40–which would put me back at the Wellington Park & Ride at 8:10pm. Total commute time: a staggering 2 hours and 46 minutes.
No thank you.
Maybe adding one more on-the-half-hour westbound 40 bus will help: It’d have to leave WPB-ITS at 6:45pm, which isn’t really a big enough window for Tri-Rail P636, which is often ten or more minutes behind schedule.
If I want a reasonable commute time, my only option, really, is P632–which, because it departs Cypress Creek at 4:54pm. I have to leave work at 4:40pm to catch. And If I miss it, I’m screwed.
Maybe I’m too picky. Maybe I just want instant gratification. Maybe I should just be thankful that I commute in South Florida, and not New York or Chicago, where public transit is ten times as crowded, it snows, and hour-long layovers for connecting transit are commonplace.
Well, I must not be the only one, because here it is almost June–and the Wellington Park & Ride? Empty. A beautiful, nicely manicured, empty boondoggle. It sits empty every day, because nobody in Wellington with a car is interested in getting home fifteen minutes into prime-time.