Thursday, October 01, 2009

The End of My Reverse Commute May Be In Sight!

So, thinking about my bud George Simmons' "No D-Day" event and what to address in my posting today, and I'm using this opportunity to talk about myself (for a change), and more specifically, my company's planned relocation from the suburbs to the big city, New York City (more specifically, the borough of Manhattan, also known as New York County). I mentioned this in another post from 9/28/2009, but that was only in passing, so you may have missed it.

As more and more businesses have moved out of big cities nationwide into suburban locations, one might assume that a reverse commute would be infinitely easier because theoretically, you're moving against traffic, but the reality isn't quite so rosy. A number of studies over the years have back found that an overwhelming majority of corporate relocations into suburban office parks were typically made within a few short miles of the town that the Chairman/CEOs called their primary residences. Indeed, some suburban locations such as Stamford, Connecticut, are just next door to such infamous towns as Greenwich, CT, which is CEO-Central by most measurements. Earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal reported that Stamford was calling itself (at least locally) "Wall Street North" and has now been forced to try and reinvent itself, mainly to contend with the many problems the financial services industry now faces. Interestingly, that city has successfully landed the filming of several TV shows, among them such trashy daytime shows as "The Jerry Springer Show" and "Maury".

Anyway, the challenge for reverse commuters is first, most transit systems were designed to move large numbers of people into the central cities in the morning and out of the central cities in the evening. The number of commuter trains, buses, subways etc. going in the the opposite direction during those hours are relatively few. Mass transit is simply not coordinated to make reverse commuting in the opposite direction terribly easy. Try taking Boston's "T" commuter trains from Boston into say, Newton, MA in the morning or getting a commuter train FROM the main line into Philly from suburban towns like Haverford, PA at night. It can be done, but the number of trains going in that direction are stacked roughly 8:1 to move commuters INTO the central city in the morning (not so much out) and in the opposite direction in the evening. Traffic patterns validate this, of course, but its a bit like saying that there are no riders because there is no demand, instead of asking if demand might be there if it was more practical to take the train in that direction?

Anyway, one of the downsides of reverse commuting is that it's a big hassle because I HAVE to drive, and my social life outside of work (at least during the week) is pretty limited as a result. One of the supposed benefits of big-city living is supposed to be utilization of frequent, low-cost mass transit, whereby one can read the newspaper or listen to their iPod on the way into work. In the evening, there are plenty of social options that I have foregone to work in the 'burbs, whether it's art exhibits, numerous shows or events, or simply grabbing a beer with friends (who all work in town) after work. In good weather it's great, but in lousy winter weather, its even better because using mass transit means not having to drive on icy freeways or to clear the snow that's accumulated on my car after the snow falls all day on it. Oh, yeah, and its supposedly more "green", too. But since I reverse commute, I'm stuck driving, which I hate. But that's about to end, soon, and I'm pretty psyched about it!!

The lease for my company's Class A office space expires officially in November. Thanks to a weak commercial real-estate market, it happens to be an opportune time to be looking for office space in Manhattan, so this has oppened an opportunity that was once assumed to be out-of-reach for many smaller businesses, including the firm where I work. The only issue now: WHERE in the city will we be? The landlords are seemingly willing to negotiate on most anything that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, so they haven't signed anything quite yet.

So, with this move, I think my social life will likely improve, my commuting cost will likely decline and most importantly, my commuting aggravation level will plummet. Right now, the only uncertainty is timing (and of course, the final destination, will that be mid-town, downtown -- all TBD right now) of the move. Because the real estate market is weak, the company can also extend the time in our current location on a month-to-month basis so we are likely to remain in suburbia until the end of the year. But the sooner this moves happens, the better!

So I'm really looking forward to having a new office in Manhattan, and not having to drive (or should I say crawl) on the Long Island Expressway (surely that's a misnomer) twice a day. Anyone care to join me after work for a beer when it happens?!

Let me just close by sharing this YouTube clip of Jennifer Saunders (best known for her role as Edina Monsoon on the BBC comedy Absolutely Fabulous, not to mention as the voice of the Fairy Godmother in the animated hit movie Shrek 2). In this video, she parodies Madonna's performance of her video & song "Hung Up":


Crystal said...

Exciting news!! Hope it's sooner rather than later. ;-)

Allison said...

As someone who lives and works in Manhattan, all I can say is: YAY!

Brenda Bell said...

There's a reason the LIE is known as "the world's biggest parking lot".

FWIW, in most areas I've lived, there's been as much road congestion on the "reverse commute" as in the more expected direction -- especially in areas where there are one or more large employers in The Exurbs of The Large City, and there are as many suburban-bedroom-community commuters outward- and crossward-bound to the Large Exurban Corporate Campus as there are to The Large City.

k2 said...

YAY for the office move & YAY for Jeffifer Saunders- I LOVE HER!
kelly k

Jaimie said...

Video was funny! Good luck with everything! Interesting to read about east coast commuting...sounds worse than LA!

meanderings said...

Hope it all works out for you. I'm spoiled living in a small town. Our biggest problem is stopping when the turkeys are crossing the road.

sara Myers said...

I did the reverse commute to Princeton for several years and got to hate it. Living and working in NYC is much much better and easier. And it is good for the social life too. I'd be happy to join you for a beer when you are settled. Well, actually I'd be drinking something else - like a martini! Good luck with the move!