Riding The FrontRunner to Work


For over four week now I’ve been riding the Frontrunner to work. The Frontrunner is a train that travels from Provo, Utah to Ogden, Utah making stops along the way. I’ve included a map for those who are not familiar with the area. I decided to take the Frontrunner for three reasons. (1) I have a free pass from work so I don’t absorb any of the cost of taking it. (2) I live about 25 miles away from work and driving there and back is non-trivial. (3) I wanted to use my commuting time better than staring at the road ahead of me and listening to new music. After driving to and from work for a week I calculated that I spent about 70 minutes* commuting and none of that time was spent writing, reading or doing anything besides listening to music and NPR (I leave work at peak traffic hours adding a lot of time to it). I was willing to add 30 minutes overall to the commute if that would guarantee I had time to do miscellaneous tasks that are important to me but I seldom find time to do outside of work. This list includes writing in my journal, reading inspirational material, reading the news, note taking and personal emails. The Frontrunner would theoretically accomplish this. It was 30 minutes on the train and 5-10 waiting for the train plus 10 riding the bus from the station to campus (Adobe Technology Campus). I decided to give it a try for a week and it’s extended to over a month now.

My Feelings So Far

The morning commute is perfect. I am alert after breakfast and exercise and I write in my journal everyday, check personal emails and read the news and other material. I pay full attention to what I am doing, there are no distractions. Every morning I’m happy I took the FrontRunner to work because while it took longer than driving, the morning feels much more productive.

My original plan for evening commute was to write code. After a week of trying this I found that I’m not really good at writing code on the train. I often need the internet for downloading files or making an update and the wi-fi is not reliable on the Frontrunner (Though it is nice to have internet when compared to other mass transit systems). Instead I have taken to writing. If my writing is work related I’ll try to document code I’ve been writing so I can spend less time at my desk doing that. I will also write blog posts on the train. I blog about programming, general topics like this one, about Chromecast and also about Hip-Hop. It’s hard to find time to write but the train ride home turns out to be ideal for this. Though its just 30 minutes I spend the entire time writing because nothing else is going on. I tend not to write a ton in my blogs so 30 minutes can easily get me a first draft.

Taking the Frontrunner has saved me a good deal of money. I save a full tank of gas per week by not driving to work, thats $35-$40 a week. That may seem like a trivial amount of money but I’ve funneled that back into eating better and saving more. I wont lie and say that I’m excited about the people on the train who are sneezing and coughing without covering their mouths. Nor am I always thrilled about delays or the limits of where I can go after work. I am happy with how I’ve figured out a way to make the most of it. As the winter months come along I’ll see how I feel about it, but I think this is my commute for as long as I work where I do.

* Takes about 100 minutes round trip on the front runner. Door-to-door.