How long is your commute to and from work? Or do you even have one anymore?

I hear and read about so many people who work from home that I wonder if anyone goes into the office anymore – that is until I actually hit the road for downtown Pittsburgh and encounter the mass influx of commuters. It’s enough to make me want to do the weather from my living room sofa in my pajamas via Skype rather than fight the traffic on the Parkway West.

This got me to thinking about how much time we actually spend commuting each day or week. I found a lot of scientific studies on the subject showing experts saying lengthy commutes negatively impact physical and mental health and your mood.

Thanks, captain obvious.

I could have saved those scientists a lot of time and money by just telling them about my observations as a commuter by car and by bus.

When I work nights, early mornings and weekends, it’s a joy to cruise into town with virtually no traffic. It’s actually an enjoyable drive. However, on those days when I have more of a 9-to-5 type shift, the commute by car becomes unbearable to me. If you glance around at your fellow commuters while sitting on Green Tree hill, you’ll see them looking pretty miserable and stressed. Hardly anyone is smiling or singing with the radio.

One study earlier this year found Pittsburgh has some of the worst traffic in the nation. Part of me believes that until I see video of six lanes of bumper to bumper traffic each direction in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and in New York City.

No, thank you.

I remember sitting in traffic jams on the Baltimore beltway most mid-afternoons when I lived there and even one jam at 2 a.m. in Washington, DC.

I often solve my weekday commuting woes by taking mass transit into town. The “T” is wonderful, but still takes way too long to reach from my house. That led me to the Port Authority bus system which has these hidden gems called busways.

These are the old railroad tunnels and tracks that now serve as “bus only” highways and I think they are genius.

You hop on with dozens of other commuters and the driver whisks you into downtown bypassing all of those suckers sitting on Green Tree hill. Plus, it’s a lot cheaper than parking downtown. The downside is that you wait in the cold, rain and snow for a few minutes now and then and every once in a while your bus may drop into a sinkhole on 10th Street ... sorry, too soon?

Otherwise, it’s convenient and relaxing. So why is it that when I look around at the faces of my fellow bus riders they still look miserable? No one is smiling except for me. I’m just thrilled that I’m not stuck in traffic somewhere.

Kristin Emery can be reached at

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!

Thank you for reading!

Please purchase a subscription to continue reading. If you have a subscription, please Log In.