How to Save Time and Money on Your Daily Boston Commute
by Nick Warren
on Wednesday, February 24th, 2016 at 5:27pm.
When most people think “big city,” they think “expensive.” The words almost become synonymous––and rightly so.
A single parking space in downtown Boston can be rented for $400-$500/month or purchased for $35k to over $400k! (No, we aren’t kidding!) This is just the price we pay to have our cars conveniently and safely stored in the heart of the city.
But for those of us commuting to other neighborhoods or to the suburbs and back, we might forget just how walkable downtown Boston is. Even if we’ve lived here for years, we may not have noticed the development of public transportation all around us.
So whether you’re just learning to navigate the City of Champions or looking to upgrade your routine to a more efficient, less expensive one––these recent and growing innovations will change commuting in Boston for all of us:
REMEMBER OUR “WALKABILITY”
Living in such a compact city with bustling streets and millions of people, we often forget how small Boston actually is. You can walk to most major neighborhoods in 20 minutes from downtown. You could even walk it end-to-end in an hour, unlike other major urban markets like New York City, Chicago, and LA.
Before you jump in a cab or renew your parking space contract, map out what your walk to work would look like. If it’s 20 minutes or fewer, it’s probably just as fast as driving! And if you can walk for half and then catch a direct bus, you’ll save tons of money by ditching your car.
Walking to work has perks beyond just affordability: starting your day with the activity of a walking commute clears your head and gives you a boost of energy. It also gives you time to catch up on podcasts you like, music you’ve been meaning to listen to, or running an errand or two while you’re already walking. You can actually enjoy your Boston commute, I promise!
CONSIDER NEW ALTERNATIVES
If you’re just not close enough to walk, you’ve still got options: Our subway system (or the T, as we call it) certainly isn’t as good as NYC’s. But, if you are lucky enough to live near a T stop, it can be used with relative ease. For those of you living in neighborhoods where there aren’t many T stations, fear not! Over the past few years, we have added new alternatives that sweeten our public transportation by bring more affordable service to more neighborhoods.
Biking started becoming more popular with the green movement in the last decade, and Boston embraced that in 2011 with the Hubway. Instead of $400 a month for a parking spot, you pay $85 a year for a shared bicycle system all throughout downtown metro. See the map for an idea of just how much this option will grow in the next few years. There might be a few stations near your home that you could soon rely on.
For any destinations you just can’t walk to, you can rely on Boston’s Uber and Lyft presences. 24/7 car-sharing provides an affordable alternative ($7-$20 per ride) to owning a car or taking regular taxis. Calculate about how many times a month you would order an Uber when you just can’t walk, and see how that compares to your parking space.
MAKE THE TRANSITION
Conventional wisdom says it takes a few weeks to turn a new resolution into a habit, but it’s actually more like 66 days. Try commuting in a different way for a few weeks, then compare your experience to some of the other options above.
You may find that using the Hubway is actually faster than using your car––and the fresh morning air actually refreshes you more than getting stuck in traffic in a vehicle. Changing up your commute will take some getting used to, but you never know what will stick until you try a different routine.
In addition, the city is now approving buildings with no available on-site parking because so many Boston residents are moving away from driving vehicles. This is just one more convincing reason to change to a Boston commute that doesn’t depend so heavily on a car.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Expansions and alternatives in Boston’s transit options are making commuting simpler and cheaper. Whether you’re beginning a new metro commute routine or looking to save more time or money, these ideas should help you see how Boston is becoming a more commuter-friendly city.