WEB SITES HELP EASE GRIND OF DAILY COMMUTE
- Livewire: Web Sites Help Ease Grind Of Daily Commute
By Lisa Baertlein
November 13, 2004
SAN FRANCISCO - The Internet not only is transforming the way we shop and
search for information, but it also is quietly smoothing the grind of the
From the San Francisco area's 511.org, which helps connect lone drivers with
the riders they need to use commuter lanes and avoid bridge tolls, to
Houston's cyberlink to cameras that monitor traffic flow, commuters have a
bevy of sites aimed at improving the hours that bookend the 9-to-5 workday.
Besides finding out how to carpool as a way to avoid paying the $3 San
Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge toll, users of 511.org <http://www.511.org> can
access trip planners, transit schedules and information for bicyclists.
A popular section <http://www.ridenow.org/carpool> lists pickup locations
for "casual carpooling" -- an activity known as "slugging" in the Washington
metropolitan area. This informal, but well-established system helps riders
meet drivers in set locations so they can carpool to work.
A variety of sites run by official transportation departments as well as
online commentators <http://www.slug-lines.com/Slugging/Etiquette.asp>
compile etiquette tips for casual carpoolers. As a general rule, line
jumping is frowned upon; passengers should remain silent unless spoken to by
the driver; and talk of religion, politics or sex is verboten.
In the Washington Beltway, the Washington Area Bikers Association
<http://www.waba.org/new/help/cap.php> helps pedaling commuters find their
Riders of the area's Metro trains recently tapped into the local transit
authority's site <http://www.wmata.com> for alternate routes home when a
crash disrupted rush-hour schedules.
Commuters who want to free up their hands and eyes while filling travel time
with literature or news turn to sites like <http://www.audible.com/>.
Audible Inc., a former dot-com star resurrected with help from the
technology behind popular digital music players like Apple's iPod, provides
subscribers with downloads of "The DaVinci Code," The Wall Street Journal
and other content.
The Web also treats commuters to a bird's-eye view of traffic conditions --
thanks to sites connected to cameras installed by transportation departments
around the United States.
The Greater Houston Transportation and Emergency Management Center provides
a real-time traffic map with color-coded trouble spots in addition to
up-to-the-minute reports on weather, accidents and incidents, road closures
and construction projects.
The site <http://www.houstontranstar.org> is among the most sophisticated of
Elsewhere, Metrocommute.com <http://www.metrocommute.com> provides real-time
traffic, transit and weather reports for New York, Los Angeles, San
Francisco, Houston and Hartford, Connecticut, via the Web, e-mail or text
messages to mobile phones.
And as with almost everything that happens in life, there are Web logs, or
blogs, with cybercommentary devoted to the daily commute.
Proponents of the car-free lifestyle tap into the Web log BikeForums
<http://www.bikeforums.net> to share views with fellow cyclists.
Across the pond, Webmaster Annie Mole operates "Going Underground"
<http://london-underground.blogspot.com>, a daily blog on the London
Underground where posters ponder such mysteries as how seven stops and one
change can be faster than two stops and one change.
The site also features photos from the Tube -- as the subway system is also
While the Internet cannot eliminate all the headaches of public
transportation, it does provide a way to vent poetically, as shown in this
Tube haiku favorite selected by Mole:
Damn the Circle line
Counting minutes ticking by
Killing life's lost time.
I'm offered her seat
but reject her kind insult
This journey's aged me.
The train is filling
Why does your bag need a seat?
I am getting stressed
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