Everyone has that one terrible commute story that they think is deserving of a reward for what they endured. In New York City — which has the country’s longest commute time — you can actually win a prize for your commuting heroism.
Last week, advocates from the Riders Alliance group launched a weekly contest to determine which New Yorker had the worst subway commute to promote “the reality of what 5.5 million New Yorkers suffer on the subways every single day” to policymakers deciding the aging Metropolitan Transit Authority’s budget for repairs. A New York Times investigation found that the MTA had the most delays out of any major rapid transit system in the world.
Winners of the “Worst Commute of the Week” will receive a chocolate Metrocard and will be announced every week! Send us your stories! pic.twitter.com/yaU7UuG9l2
— Riders Alliance (@RidersNY) February 15, 2018
NYC woman wins award for worst commute
On Tuesday, one New York City woman was crowned the inaugural Worst Commute award winner for surviving a 30-minute trip that became a two-hour ordeal. Jennifer Tang, a librarian from Forest Hills, Queens, explained how her daily commute to work became a nightmare for her body and mind.
“I was in a hurry to get home and didn’t use the bathroom, figuring my 30-minute commute from Manhattan to Queens wasn’t going to be so bad,” Tang wrote in her submission.
But just one stop away from her destination, her train got stuck in the tunnel for two hours due to “signal problems.” Unable to use a bathroom, Tang could only wait for relief.
“By the time the train pulled into the 67th Avenue station, I had to run to a nearby Starbucks in order to pee,” she wrote. “I still have post-traumatic stress syndrome from this incident. Now, before boarding the subway, even if it’s for one stop, I use the bathroom before I get on the torture chamber that is the MTA subway.”
New York, New Jersey, Illinois have worst commute times
Data shows why stories like Tang’s are likely to continue in New York City. Using U.S. Census Bureau data, Business Insider ranked average commute times across 20 major American cities.
At 39.9 minutes, New York City had the longest commute time. Jersey City and Newark in New Jersey came in second and third at 36.2 and 34.4 minutes. Chicago’s 34.1-minute commute time average came in fourth.
How commutes infect workplace attitudes
Bad commutes are not just an individual misery, they’re a workplace issue causing disengaged, unhappy workers. The stress of road traffic and subway delays you experience in the morning sets the tone of how you’ll feel for the rest of the day. In a survey of activities that made 900 participants unhappy, morning commutes were the most miserable activity, beating out working at your job or cleaning the house.
Another recent study concluded that a 20-minute increase in a worker’s round-trip commute time has the same effect on job satisfaction as a 19% reduction in income.
So next time you feel crummy on your soul-sucking commute, take heart in knowing that you’re not the only one finding this endurance sport unbearable.