About a Burgeoning Commute


It’s an unusual Saturday morning for me. I work in Manhattan all week, and normally spend weekends at my quiet suburban house. But today I am using my monthly pass to take NJ Transit into the city to meet some friends for lunch. Apparently, half of Central Jersey has the same plan.

As I board the train, all hopes of sitting in quiet thought for an hour to work on some blog ideas or plan-out some minor projects for the next few days are.. err.. deleted. At best, I might find a semi-comfortable place to sit or stand. At worst, this morning’s commuter-rail trip might be more like the crampily standing New York subway commutes I mostly jettisoned from my life last year, when we settled into a New Jersey life with a lawn and easy access to UPS and laundry facilities.

We settled into a life with a lawn and easy access to UPS and laundry facilities.

As it turns out, my actual commute this morning is somewhere in between: I have a seat, large crowds of “kids” are having large loud conversations, and I have enough elbow room to whip-out my Android smartphone and compose a blog post in one “take”. I will take some time later to add a graphic and some formatting before publishing. My Android’s green light keeps beeping at me about new email, and I begin to wish the Android OS was not multi-tasking. The very bright side of things is that I’m getting out a fresh blog idea on a day when I couldn’t decide which of my 42 drafts was worth finishing up to publish. I’m just writing about my current moment, and those drafts will wait for another day.

As I write, a relevant email comes in, reminding me of a glib comment I had made a few hours earlier on Facebook:

Shannon Wagner thinks that Gov. Christie killed the NJ Transit tunnel project as a tactic to get more Federal funds, but he doesn’t really want it dead. But that’s just my guess based on knowing practically nothing about the issue.

I had mostly forgotten the comment, but now a friend has turned it into a discussion my posting a reply that I mildly disagree with.

Let me explain..

There’s been a lot of chatter lately about the governor of New Jersey “killing” a rail tunnel project that is intended to greatly increase commuter capacity into New York City via NJ Transit. I’m not going to give strong opinions on the issue, because I don’t really know enough to understand the pro’s and con’s. But as a guy who was trained in mathematics, I have a keen eye for separating axiom from theorem, and both from punditry.

So, a few questions – would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

  • Is it practical to increase commuter capacity into New York?
  • Is it desirable to sustain commuter levels into New York?
  • Would a public policy requiring flex-time and tele-commuting help?

An important day for me generally means a day that has at least several catharses.

I don’t think we are hearing these questions discussed. Yes, my commute is often “burgeoning”. But I walk away from it wondering, not so much whether it is a problem which can be solved, but more whether it is a problem which should be solved. There’s a big gap between those two types of problem.

Meanwhile, I made it into Manhattan, met a Solution Architect from Portugal, had lunch and a good long talk with some friends, and overall had what I call “an important day for me”. That generally means a day that has at least several catharses.

Not bad for a day which started with a burgeoning commute!