Unless you work from home, chances are you’re familiar with the struggles that come with commuting.
Every commuting option comes with its own set of pros and cons. Driving gives you privacy and comfort, but traffic can be a nightmare. Transit lets you catch up on your reading, but it can get crowded. Cycling is great for your health and the environment, but Vancouver weather can put a damper on your ride.
From transit users to electric vehicle drivers, we spoke with four local commuters about the trials and tribulations of their daily travels to find out which is the most efficient choice.
Depending on where you live and work, driving your own vehicle may be the only commute that makes sense—but sitting alone in your car day after day can take its toll.
“What really bothers me are other drivers who don’t play by the same rules as everyone else,” said Leanne Buhler, who commutes from New Westminster to Burnaby five days a week.
Single occupancy vehicles compete for limited space on the road and have to contend with frustrated, aggressive behaviour.
“I feel like I drive very fairly—merging properly, waiting patiently in line, letting other drivers change lanes—but then you get those special drivers who feel like common courtesy and rules don’t apply to them,” said Buhler.
In addition to the frustrations caused by dangerous or entitled drivers, there are other irritating aspects of sitting in vehicle.
“I also really dislike the idle time sitting in a car for 50 minutes a day. I don’t really have transit or active commuting as an option, so I’m stuck sitting for almost an hour every day when I could be standing or walking.”
Some Vancouverites opt for a more active daily commute and hop on a bike to get to and from work.
“Honestly, I think anyone who isn’t cycling to get around Vancouver isn’t getting their money’s worth on their insane rent,” said Jordan Potter, who lives in East Vancouver and works downtown. “And there are plenty of bike routes and dedicated lanes that allow you to get around easily.”
While biking to work when the weather is nice is a great way to keep in shape and reduce your environmental impact, it’s not all blue skies and open roads.
“The worst part about biking in Vancouver is the rain,” said Potter. “On top of getting soaked, you can’t brake as quickly, and the poor visibility makes it dicey, especially if drivers can’t see you as you approach an intersection.”
Regardless of how much Vancouverites relish complaining about transit, we do have an exceptional transit system in the Lower Mainland. Like most commutes, though, you need to factor in potential travel delays and other setbacks when planning your trip.
“My biggest frustration when it comes to commuting on transit is it’s a total time suck,” said Stacey McLachlan, who travels from Vancouver to her office in Burnaby. “I listen to podcasts or read while I’m commuting, but it’s still over an hour each day that has to be spent in transit.”
Transit does take the onus off the commuter to pay attention to the road, allowing them to catch up on reading or emails before getting into the office—but that doesn’t always make up for the joys of being packed into SkyTrain cars like sardines.
Having access to the HOV lane can drastically reduce your travel time, especially during rush hour, but carpooling isn’t the only way to take advantage of this express route. The B.C. government offers the same access to electric vehicle drivers, regardless of the number of individuals in the car.
“When I get into the HOV lane, it’s always quicker,” said Brenda Duncan, who lives in Maple Ridge and works in Vancouver. “Driving a gasoline engine car takes at least 10 minutes longer.”
Duncan, who made the switch to an electric vehicle a few years ago, has noticed a marked improvement in her commute.
“Commuting is faster [and the electric car] saves me money. Our electric bill went up about $15 per month, and we use the electric car every day,” she said.
The only drawback? “The looks you get from people who only see one person in the vehicle,” said Duncan, remarking that some drivers don’t notice the sticker that indicates her vehicle is permitted in the HOV lane.
Driving a hybrid vehicle like a Prius Prime can shorten your commute by allowing you to use the HOV lane with no passengers. It also helps reduce your carbon footprint while keeping a roof over your head on those rainy Vancouver days.
Not only do these hybrid vehicles make for a more pleasant commute, but Toyota’s Priuses use almost 50 percent less fuel than a non-hybrid vehicle and are engineered to require less maintenance than a regular car—making them an efficient commuting choice.More