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  • Sonya
    Livewire: Web Sites Help Ease Grind Of Daily Commute By Lisa Baertlein Reuters November 13, 2004
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 4, 2004
      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
      daily commute.

      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
      best route.

      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
      its kind.

      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

      Sonya PLoS Medicine
      The open-access general medical journal from the Public Library of Science
      Inaugural issue: Autumn 2004 Share your discoveries with the world.
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