The average person spends about an hour every day commuting to and from work, or to various places throughout their day. And unfortunately, for most people it’s not exactly a fun experience. As cities become more and more congested, the quality of that travel time getting around does get affected. There are even people who spend two or more hours out of their day commuting, and that’s two hours you could have spent doing something more productive.
We’ve all been there, we’ve all felt the frustration at one point or another. Here’s our list of ten things that any commuter would understand.
1. The Long Wait
The thing about commuting, is that often times it’s frustrating before you even begin. While sitting at the stop waiting for the bus, or craning your head to find a taxi, or even just waiting in line at the ticket booth, commuting tends to begin with a long, mind-numbing wait. It’s no picnic, and when time is of the essence it can get you all antsy before your day even begins. And we haven’t even gotten to the fun part yet.
2. The unrelenting traffic
If there were ever one thing that most people will notice about commuting, it’s the daily grind on the streets. There’s nothing quite like rush hour as you’re frantically scrambling to get to the office, only to get stuck in a grid lock. Traffic is an unfortunate reality in almost every urban area, and it’s really bad in some cities. If you thought waiting half an hour for the bus was about, how about waiting half an hour inside the bus without moving?
3. Not being able to bring your luggage
If you have your own car, you have a whole trunk load of space to fill up as you please. But if you’re taking public transport, that’s when you realize the wisdom of packing light. One of the more jarring things about commuting is how you can’t bring everything and the kitchen sink with you. That’s often a problem for mobile warriors who work on the go, bringing their big heavy laptops, chargers, wall bricks and other accessories with them when they need to work around the city. Forget about doing the groceries, who has the hands to carry all of that stuff?
Japan is infamous for having trains so jam-packed, there are station attendants whose job is to push people inside the train so that the doors can close. While most places don’t quite have it that bad, crowding is one of the big concerns people have when going on their commute. This is everybody’s space and unfortunately everybody also seems to be interested in getting into that space, and that’s what happens most of the time. Whether you’re getting pushed into a Japanese sardine train, enjoying your standing room privileges on an American bus, settling into crowded hip-to-hip jeepneys in the Philippines, or riding on top of the train in India, crowing is an all-to-real and famously unpleasant facet of commuting.
5. The odious, obnoxious odors
You know what’s worse than being packed into a train like a can of sardines? Being packed into a train like a can of sardines with people who haven’t quite learned the concept of personal hygiene. It’s especially bad in crowded subways and buses where people usually raise their arms to grab onto a balancing bar or ring dangling from the ceiling, leaving their wonderful underarms completely exposed to your face. In Asia people wear face masks to stop the spread of germs and microbes, but sometimes I wonder if it’s not to protect them from other things.
6. Coughing without covering their mouth
Speaking of face masks, airborne diseases are a real threat to public health, and we’ve all looked on in disgust as somebody coughs or sneezes without even attempting to cover their mouths. In an open park it may not be as big a deal, but in a crowded city liner? Always bring a handkerchief people, and learn to use it. It’ll save both you and your neighbors from a lot of undue stress.
7. People playing loud music
And it’s those times when you really see how inconsiderate some people can be. It’s one thing to enjoy the idyllic scenery of an endless sea of people in peace, however little the comfort such an activity usually brings. And it’s quite another to enjoy that same scenery with a the sounds of heavy metal leaking out of someone’s headphones so loud, you wonder how his brains haven’t been turned into mush. We all enjoy our music, but when it’s playing that loud through headphones something is definitely not right. And some people don’t even bother with the headphones and just play their phone speakers blaring at full intensity. Where’s my idyllic peace?
8. People who look angry all the time
When you have people getting into their personal space trampled on like that, it really does become a huge downer. So it’s not surprising that you look around you and all you see is a sea of angry faces. Frowns, sneers, wrinkled brows, these are the sights you can expect to see throughout your wonderful commute.
9. Needing to put down your book
So when you try to drown it all out, you choose that time-honored activity: reading! You bring a book with you as you take your seat, or you take out your Kindle or your phone to do some involved reading. And Just as you get to the good part, the train stops and it’s time to get off. Biblios interruptus, it’s sad but it does happen. Don’t worry, you can get back to the cliffhanger of Fifty Shades of Grey during your lunchbreak.
10. Missing your stop
And last but not least, if you were too engrossed in your book or worse, you fell asleep, there’s the all too real pain of missing your stop. Now, you get to do all of that all over again for another hour as you wait to go in reverse. Lovely, absolutely lovely!
The great news is, a lot of these problems are being worked on through the use of better technology and superior city planning. Mobility technology today has solutions for a lot of these common problems. While solving someone else’s hygiene problem probably isn’t on the agenda just yet, there are various studies and mathematical models being used now to optimize city transit routing and timing to improve traffic congestion. Urban planners are investing in infrastructure to create intelligent roads that provide up-to-date information that can help mobility-as-a-service applications to find the correcting timings to eliminate wait times, and there are services now create a unified experience where you can load up your luggage at home, and find it at your destination without you needing to worry about space.
Mobility is such an exciting, fast-moving field and pretty soon, a lot of these headaches we have from commuting could be a thing of the past.