Commuting to New York City for work used to be the worst part of my day.
Before the pandemic, I was spending at least three hours a day waiting for trains and subways to take me a distance of roughly 80 miles round-trip.
It also cost me a whopping $435 every month. Needless to say, I wasn't looking forward to paying it again once the work from home period ended.
I finally resolved to return to the office after 16 months of working from home in July, and decided to make a change for the better in how I commute. The solution: an electric scooter
Here's how I radically changed my commute while saving money and having more fun.
First, meet my pre-pandemic morning commute. It started with a 1-mile drive from my house to my local train station where I'd catch the express train to New York City's Pennsylvania Station.
Once at Penn Station, I connected to the A subway train for the five-stop journey to Fulton Street station, just two blocks from the Insider office.
Then, after a series of passageways and stairs, I came to the surface just feet away from my building's entrance。
I quickly realized early on that although convenient, I was spending most of my waking hours in New York City, also known as the greatest city in the world, but wasn't seeing any of it beyond the 200 feet from the subway to my office building's lobby.
The maximum load on the scooter is 275 pounds which is more than enough to carry me plus a backpack with my necessities for the day.
I can ride for around eight miles on a full charge, and my office is only four from Penn Station. It takes six hours to charge back up, which is perfect for an eight-hour workday.
Even as a heavier person, I can ride at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour, which makes for a quicker commute. It never takes more than 20 minutes to get from Midtown to the Financial District.
The one downside is that it's quite heavy for a scooter at 33 pounds in total.
I don't enjoy carrying it on stairs or through the lobby of our office building, though I am getting used to it.
The scooter plus the helmet cost $528, more than the cost of the monthly rail passes I was buying before the pandemic. But by cutting out the subway, I'd actually be saving more than the scooter costs in just a few months' time.
A monthly subway pass in New York City costs $127, so I'd be in the black after just five months of scooter commuting. That's no small amount and I can quite easily put that to something more useful than subway rides.
I'd inevitably have to take the subway on some days since I don't want to scoot in the rain or snow. But as long as that expense doesn't grow too much, I should still break even in five months.
It's also easier to do those one-off subway trips since the Metropolitan Transportation Authority installed tap-to-pay "OMNY" readers. All I have to do is tap my card and not have to worry about bringing a MetroCard with me every day.
My new commute starts at Penn Station where, after finding the quickest way to the surface, I head down 7th Avenue.
At 30th Street I join a protected bike lane with parked cars separating me from the roadway.
There are still challenges, even with bike lanes, and vigilance is required. People will often walk into the bike lane without looking and then get angry when I don't stop for them.
One lady that had absentmindedly wandered into the active bike lane told me to watch where I was going when I passed her. But I've noticed doing the same as a pedestrian so I am now more mindful of that.
Cars making turns are also an issue as they won't look at the bike lane before making their turn. I'm constantly swerving out of the way of drivers focused only on the crosswalk and not the bike lane.
Outdoor dining spots are not a huge issue on my route but there are a few that I have to slow down for, and some do block street signage.
But once I get closer to downtown, I take a side street over to the Hudson River Greenway where I can take a bike path the rest of the way. This is where the commute gets really fun.