Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Ah, the Morning Commute

Ah, the Morning Commute

Ok, so this morning I got out the front door a little after 7:45. I was at the bus stop on Gravois at Arsenal by 8:00. The first bus that showed up was the #10 Gravois local route, which came about 8:07. I rode it into downtown, cursing the fact that the #11x Shrewsbury Express and I think the #10x South Grand Express both passed that bus on the way northeast on Gravois toward downtown.

So, if I had waited another two minutes, I could have had a much faster trip on that leg. The #10 Gravois stops at almost every block, at least from Arsenal to Allen. The express routes stop only at Arsenal (my stop), Jefferson, and Allen in that section.

There was the usual moderate level of traffic on South Tucker, and then after turning onto Chouteau and then South 14th, it was a mess! Traffic was, for some reason, backed up halfway onto the viaduct over the Mill Creek railyards. Meanwhile, an apparently mentally disturbed fellow sitting across from me was shredding an empty can of orange soda, spilling the last few drops all over himself. And he pulled out a lighter and held it in the air. Kinda surreal.

Finally, after waiting too long in that traffic jam, I got off the #10 Gravois at the stop on the east side of 14th between Spruce and Clark, about 8:22. Naturally, this meant I just barely missed the 8:21 westbound MetroLink. I probably could have made it, except that the traffic was still moving, albeit pretty slowly, so I (and a dozen other commuters) had to wait to cross the street.

We couldn't just jaywalk; there were too many cars. And when I did push the button on the crosswalk signal at 14th and Spruce, nothing happened. Often, this crosswalk does nothing even when you wait a long time; even when it does work, right-turning vehicles ignore it, making it utterly useless, despite the attractive brickwork embedded into the street.

So, I strolled down the stairs and up the ramp to the Civic Center MetroLink station, to wait for the 8:31 westbound train. It arrived right on time, and rolled on just fine until about 500 feet east of the Forest Park MetroLink station.

Then, we stopped. For about 90 seconds, I think. Granted, I was already running rather late - by this time it was 8:41 or so. The #58 Clayton-Ballas (8:40 westbound) I had hope to catch, I could see going by on the DeBaliviere Place overpass just a bit west. I know these kind of delays are routine given the Cross County construction, but it's still annoying.

So, when I did get off the MetroLink at Forest Park, instead of crossing over DeBaliviere to wait for the next #58, which wouldn't be until 8:54, I cut through the alley to the bus stop on Pershing just east of DeBaliviere. And I waited for the next something to come. My schedules said a WashU Shuttle (Gold Line) would be arriving at 8:47, and a #93 Lindell at 8:49.

Of course, I waited, and the shuttle was late. I just decided to catch the #93 Lindell, which was basically on-time. I embarked the #93 Lindell about 8:50 and disembarked about 8:58, at Skinker and Lindell (on Skinker, that is). I knew I couldn't walk all the way to work - more than halfway across campus - in two minutes! So, I called in saying I was a little late; actually, I called in while still aboard the #93 Lindell.

Then, finally, I walked to work, arriving at Eliot Hall about 9:08.

The vicissitudes... of the early morning rush hour. How did I manage to get stuck with a "reverse commute" that also entails dealing with traditional downtown-bound traffic? And then, when heading back home in the early evenings I have to contend with loads of sports fans on the MetroLink, many of whom are unpleasantly surprised to discover that, when you don't hold onto anything, you might end up falling down when the train starts moving!

Admittedly, there are other, perhaps superior, ways to get from my origin to my destination points. For example - and I used to do this a lot - I could walk up to the #70 Grand. But that walk takes at least 15 minutes, and then I still have to wait for a bus, which most likely will be way more crowded than the Gravois corridor service, and usually takes about the same amount of time (or longer) to reach MetroLink. It's not like Grand is not congested; rushhour traffic on Grand is pretty heavy between I-44 and Highway 40, especially. The worst part, though, is waiting for MetroLink at that dirty, exposed windtunnel under the Grand viaduct at Grand station. I do use Grand station when necessary, but lately, I try to avoid it.


Anonymous said...


If you had waited at Gravois & Arsenal a few minutes longer, couldn't you have caught the westbound (technically southbound) #30 Soulard Bus to Sutton Loop in Maplewood (arrives 8:31) then taken the #16 City Limits bus (departs Sutton Loop 8:34) and arrived at Skinker & Milbrook 8:46. More efficient, and avoids downtown, yes?

Joe said...

Ya know, I've tried that in the past, but I usually end up missing the #16 City Limits. I find that the #30 Soulard often gets off-schedule. But, sometimes that does work.

Usually, I'm trying to avoid having to walk all the way from Skinker to my destination at WashU. So, usually, I can catch either the Gold Line or the Clayton-Ballas. Plus, I kind of enjoy riding MetroLink - most of the time, anyway.

But you have a good point. It just doesn't always work out as well as the schedules would suggest.

Anonymous said...

A year from now, you might take the Soulard bus to the Maplewood (Manchester) MetroLink station and ride to Big Bend. Ah, if it were only 2006 already.