Monday, September 28, 2009

Commuter Experiment - Update

I got rather tired of updating the blog everyday... pretty much saying the same thing every day. "Had to wait for the bus today... there were mechanical problems on the train... etc" So I figured I would try to do a weekly update instead of daily. I've also been away from the experiment for a while because my wife had a baby and I've been off work for a few weeks. But I'm back now and the experiment is back in force (with a few minor hiccups when I forget to start the timer when I leave the house or leave work.) so I don't have a complete unbroken set of data points, but I have enough data points to start to show a trend and an average. So I will present some findings today from the 23 days worth of data that I have so far. (Counting this morning's commute).



Data points






Shortest time



Longest time



Average (less high and low)



Standard Deviation



Min / Day


















So my morning commute is averaging about 3 minutes shorter than my afternoon commute. However the morning commute on Mondays and Thursdays are longer than my afternoon commutes on those days. My Friday morning commutes are almost 10 minutes shorter than the afternoon commutes. These are some pretty interesting trends, we will see how they trends into the future as winter approaches. Somehow I think there will be some pretty big outliers that will develop in the winter. As memory serves me, there are usually 5 or 6 days (when the weather drops below -30C) that the C-Train service really suffers and the wait times for transit are measures in hours rather than minutes. Should be interesting.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Commuter Day 8

Friday August 21

AM: 54 Minutes
PM: 67 minutes

I decided to take the 7:30 bus again this morning. I like getting the extra half hour of sleep at night. It does mean that I have to stay at extra half hour at the end of the day, but I usually end up doing that anyway. Nothing out of the ordinary on the morning commute, though.

This afternoon was a gong show though. I left the office a little early, after the second fire alarm this week hit the building. And I ended up waiting almost 15 minutes downtown for a train to arrive at the train station. I didn't have to wait too long for the bus to show up, though, which was good. I'm guessing since it was still a little early in the afternoon, the trains weren't running on their rush hour schedule, and that's why I had to wait. Also, since I left early, I wasn't able to time the sweet spot this afternoon to get to the bus at the right time. I'll have to try it out Monday.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Commuter Day 7

Thursday August 20, 2009

AM: 56 Minutes
PM: 60 Minutes

You will notice I've missed a few days in my experiment. No I didn't take more time off for ultrasounds. I had some difficulties remembering to start and stop my watch the last 2 days. Tuesday morning I completely forgot, Wednesday I remembered when I was already on the bus, and both days I started to time the afternoon commute, but forgot to stop when I got home until I had already eaten dinner. So those days will just have to be throw away days in the experiment. There will be plenty of more days to gather data to come. However I have noticed, as I've started to put together some algorithms to analyze the data, that I haven't collected any data for a Wednesday commute yet. I started my experiment on a Thursday afternoon, last Wednesday I took the day off of work, and this week I forgot to time on Wednesday. That's okay though. Once I get a few months of data, everything should average out okay.

This morning I decided to take the 7:30 bus again. I don't know why, I've just been struggling to get up early the last week or so. I almost like the 7:30 bus better because of the consistency of the drivers.

This afternoon I was paying closer attention to when I leave the office and when the bus arrives. I think I have discovered the sweet spot to get me to the bus stop at the right time to minimize my wait. I'll try it out tomorrow to see for sure. Today I left the office at 4:55 and had to wait 10 minutes at the bus stop before it showed up, and then almost another 5 minutes before it left. So I figure I could probably leave the office between 5:05 and 5:10 to be sure I get to the bus stop right before the bus shows up, or leaves.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Commuter Day 6

Monday Aug 17, 2009

AM: 55 Minutes
PM: 62 Minutes

I tried something new this morning for the commute. I was really tires when I woke up today, so I decided to sleep in an extra half hour and try taking the bus at 7:37 instead of at 7:11. It made a bit of a difference. I noticed the train didn't seem quite as full as it does when I leave earlier, but the time was still about the same. I think the 7:37 bus drivers are a little more consistent at arriving on time, and not 3 minutes early like the 7:11 driver, so I may try doing the 7:30 commute instead of the 7:00 commute. I may extend my work hours a little later into the evening to compensate, but if I usually end up having to wait in the afternoon for a bus, I may was well stay at the office 15 minutes later instead of waiting at the bus stop for 15 minutes.

Speaking of waiting at the bus stop, that's exactly what I had to do this afternoon. The train pulled up to the station and the bus stop was empty. That meant that the last bus had just pulled away, and I would have to wait the longest time for another bus to show up. So I sat and waited.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Commuter Day 5

Friday Aug 14, 2009
AM: 49 minutes
PM: 57 minutes

This morning, luck was on my side. I left the house the usual time to get to the bus stop. As I was halfway to the bus stop, I saw the bus driving past the stop towards me. (It's a good thing I walk along the bus route on the way to the bus stop). The bus was 4 minutes early from when it was supposed to pick up. Luckily I was able to flag down the bus and get on at the corner, otherwise I would have had to wait 15-20 minutes for the next bus to come the other direction. I told the bus driver when I got on the bus, "A little early today, aren't you?" To which he replied, "No, only about 30 seconds." I wonder if he realizes what time he is supposed to pick up there? It's not a timed stop, where I catch the bus, but it does seem weird that he is the only driver that is consistently 3 minutes early, when every other bus driver on that route is 1-2 minutes late. Anyway, as I said, I was lucky to catch the bus on the corner, because I had no wait time, and was able to make it downtown in really good time today.

This afternoon's commute was more of the same. I don't think I spent a long amount of time waiting for the bus today. It was about the average.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Commuter Day 4

Thursday Aug 13
AM: 59 Minutes
PM: 63 Minutes

If you've been keeping score at home, you'll notice that I didn't post any times for yesterday. That's because I took the day off yesterday. My wife had an ultrasound to see how our 38 week old fetus is doing. The baby was measuring small at the last prenatal appointment and the doctor was a bit concerned so they schedules the ultrasound to make sure the baby was still getting the nutrients it needs. The ultrasound was scheduled for noon, and I really wanted to see how the baby was doing, and get some good pictures of it, so I took the whole day off.

Today's commute was more of the usual. I left early this morning to wait at the bus stop, since the "early" bus driver was out this week. Sometimes he comes 5 minutes early, other days he comes on time, but very rarely does he ever come late... However, most of the other drivers always come late. So this morning I got out extra early, and a different driver pulled up 3 minutes late. So I spent close to 10 minutes at the bus stop this morning waiting.

This afternoon was the same bit of waiting for the bus. I think I had just missed the bus when the train pulled up to the station, so I had a 10 - 15 minute wait for the next train to show up. Still looking for that sweet spot.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Commuter Day 3

Tuesday Aug 11:
AM: 36 minutes
PM: 57 minutes

Today was an anomaly day. I had my wife drive me to the train station rather than taking the bus this morning. And we drove up to the Anderson station, instead of only going to the extreme south station. By not having to walk to the bus stop, wait for the bus to come, and then wait for the train to leave, I was able to shave almost 20 minutes off the commute time. I would take this route everyday, but #1 it would be a bit of a hassle to get the wife and kid (and soon to be newborn) ready just to take me to the train, and #2 I'm trying to save money on gas by using public transportation. I would drive myself to the station everyday, but I refuse to pay $3 a day to park at the train station. Calgary Transit started to charge to park at the C-Train stations in May, and I used to park at the stations all the time before when it was free to do so. But I refuse to pay any money for parking in an area that should be free. So I haven't driven my car to the train station since they've started charging. I've been taking the bus instead. I mean, I already have to pay $83 a month to ride transit, and they want me to pay at least $60 more for parking?! Shouldn't I be rewarded for taking public transportation in the first place, and not putting another car on the streets congesting up the roads? It seems like a pretty blatant cash grab on the part of the City. But anyway, that's how my morning commute went.

The afternoon commute was about the same as usual. I'm still trying to figure out the afternoon sweet spot, where I can get off the train and catch the bus on the way home without having to wait. I usually end up having to wait 10 minutes or so for the bus to take me home. Trial and error, I guess.