Commuter Resources On The Web

By: Madison Lockwood

There are a ton of resources available online to help you find what you need to make your commute to and from work as painless as possible. From weather reports to carpool hook-ups to route guides, there's something for almost every city in the country with a population of over 50,000.

Local Community Transit

If there's a local transit system in your town – buses, trains, subways – then there is a website for that system. On the home page, you will find updates about which lines are under construction, which routes and schedules may be changed as well as information about town meetings in which you can voice your opinion on the prospective changes, and announcements as to when lines are running behind schedule.

Some sites have a real time system online as well. These allow you to choose the line, direction, and stop and it will tell you in minutes when the next bus or train will be there. San Francisco's MUNI system, for example, offers this option for 7 of its lines. It updates itself automatically and you can even watch the little red dots representing the bus make its way toward your stop.

Carpool Resources

Almost every town of size has a Craigslist site dedicated to it and on this site you can find a section where carpoolers can find each other. Whether you're looking for a ride or for someone to share the cost of gas, you'll find it here.

Many communities have a ton of other sites for the same purpose, and there are national sites that cater to multiple regions. For example, eRideShare.com is a free site dedicated to carpoolers in the U.S. and Canada who commute, are looking for a long distance ride, or a short local trip.

If you are a university or college student, you may find carpooling resources on campus or on campus websites as well.

Route Finders and Accident Reports

Whether you ride a bike or drive a car, finding the best route to your destination is crucial to making the trip a success. If there's a traffic snare on the highway 2 exits before the exit you need, your trip can take three or four times as long as it usually would. If you're riding a bike, hills can be death of you. If there's a flatter route to your destination, wouldn't you like to know about it?

You can find sites that cater to each of these issues in different cities and regions across the country. Traffic.com, for example, is a free service in which you can find out the latest news of accidents and traffic status in your town via phone, PDA, or email. They serve about 30 or so cities across the country. Registered members get premium services.

For those a little more environmentally conscious – or economically conscious considering the price of gas these days – there's Bike Metro at www.bikemetro.com. Enter your address of origin and your destination address and they'll tell you the flattest way to get there. Or if you're more interested in a little sight seeing, you can pick out a point of interest and they'll give you the route.

No matter what your question about your commute, there is a Web site online somewhere made just for you. Simply enter your issue (i.e. "carpooling resource," "accident reports") and your town in a search engine and you'll have a list of commuter resources to choose from.

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