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The Happy Commute: The Express Bus to Durham, NC

Living Car-Free, Southeast, Transit Access
Sydney Leonard

By Sydney Leonard, Marketing Coordinator, Alta Planning + Design

Not many people look forward to their daily commute. When it comes to activities humans enjoy, the necessary drudge of the work commute comes very close to the bottom of the list. The time we spend in transit each morning and afternoon is an evitable part of our lives. I take an express bus from where I reside in Raleigh, NC to downtown Durham where the Alta office is located. In honor of the final days of Alta’s Transit Month, I’m here to state my case for why my time spent commuting by bus proves the contrary: that the daily commute can be a source of contentment that leaves me with a certain sense of harmony every day.

Precious Time

While I inevitably invest the time in traveling 25 miles every day for my commute from Raleigh to Durham, the quality of time during a 30 minute bus ride trumps that of the solo drive. On the bus, I use my time to catch up on reading, listening to a podcast, reflecting on the day, or even sneaking in a nap. Driving during rush hour lends little time to think of anything other than the stop-and-go traffic. Additionally, North Carolina legally allows buses to drive on the empty shoulder, bypassing jammed traffic. Commuting by bus instead of car cuts my travel time nearly in half, giving me more valuable time to use however I’d like.

Community Connection

A long car commute during rush hour isn’t only a notorious time-suck. Sitting alone in a car every morning is a form of social isolation. Feeling socially connected to others is a huge factor to human happiness and fulfillment. While being in a car every morning might not leave you feeling noticeably lonely, there is something to be said for being surrounded by familiar faces on the bus. Whether I converse with my fellow bus riders or simply people watch, being surrounded daily by a bus of people fosters a sense of community that leaves me feeling more connected with to my fellow man.

The Non-Pollute Commute

It can be easy to forget the gravity of my choice of daily work commute. I have to remind myself that driving 25 miles to work every day poisons the air we breathe and the global climate. By opting out, I save gallons of gas and significantly reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.  My bus commute leaves me feeling satisfied knowing that I’m helping to reduce emissions and ease congestion. All benefits of bus commuting considered, the most important by far is the ultimate environmental impact and benefits, which leaves me with the ultimate contentment.

Finding happiness in the necessary, boring parts of life, like the work commute, can be tricky. I encourage everyone to try public transportation for their daily commute, at least once. My next step to work commute nirvana is to figuring out biking to my bus stop every day. Happy commuting!

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Sydney Leonard

About Sydney Leonard

Sydney studied in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After graduating, she worked as the Outreach Coordinator for the Bicycle and Pedestrian planning department of the City of Raleigh, where she developed a passion for active transportation. Sydney is currently a Marketing Coordinator with Alta Planning + Design in Durham, NC.
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