Monday, July 7, 2008

Asleep at the Wheel

Commuting in Miami is the stuff of dreams… to the point that some people just go back home and go back to bed.

Gas prices at all-time highs. Check.

Aggressive drivers. Oh, yeah.

Too many road closures and too much traffic. We got plenty of that.

It’s no wonder South Floridians think driving down here is a pain.

Of 10 major metropolitan areas in the United States, South Florida ranked third when it came to commuter pains in a recent survey.

IBM’s Institute for Electronic Government surveyed cities including Miami, New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Atlanta. They took commuters’ perspective on day-to-day driving in gridlock and its toll on wallets, stress levels, work production, sleep and emotional well-being.

”It’s a mess,” said Carlos Vargas, a Hallandale Beach resident who commutes daily to his job in Medley.

The value of time stuck in traffic, deciding not to make the trip because of it, and even turning around and going home were just some of the criteria used to judge how bad the commute is from city to city, said Mary Young, Miami location leader for IBM.

Los Angeles ranked No. 1 and Atlanta No. 2 overall in the commuter pain survey.

But South Florida commuters had the highest number of those who said if traffic congestion were too bad, they’d just make a U-turn and head home.

I have a relatively simple commute: side streets to a brief foray on US 1, then up the dreaded Palmetto Expressway to NW 36th Street. It’s 19 miles and takes a half-hour in the morning, 45 minutes in the evening. Compared to some of my co-workers, I have it easy. I have yet to turn around and come back home, but then, I have a station wagon and I can stretch out in the wayback.