The daily commute is a dreaded affair for many. (Traffic jams and overcrowded subway cars just don't really scream, "Morning, sunshine!") While some of us have little choice but to grin and try to bear the daily grind with the help of the radio, an iPod, a stress ball and/or a massive cup of coffee, other lucky people have found ways to make their morning commute not just bearable, but downright enjoyable.
Here, the top five coolest ways to get to work.
Residents of New York City's Roosevelt Island -- a small strip of land that sits in the East River between the boroughs of Manhattan and Queens -- have one of the coolest commutes out there. To get to work, residents can hop on a cable car for a scenic, three-minute ride to Manhattan's Upper East Side. The aerial tram makes continuous trips during rush hour and each car holds 110 people -- making it a convenient option for daily commuters.
New Yorkers aren't the only ones with this enviable option, though. Workers commuting between Portland's South Waterfront district and the campus of Oregon Health and Science University can also take the tram to work.
What makes it cool: The view. The Roosevelt Island tram reaches a height of 250 ft; the Portland tram, 500 ft.
Biking or walking to work are great options for commuters who live within a reasonable distance of their workplaces, since these no-vehicle-needed modes of transportation are arguably the healthiest and most eco-friendly ways to commute. Cities across the country are encouraging the trend too. In the past five years, metros like Nashville, New York and Denver have commissioned major expansions of their bike lanes. In May, bike-to-work events are hosted around the country to celebrate National Bicycle Month and to encourage commuters to try out these alternate modes of transportation.
What makes it cool: The health benefits. According to the American Heart Association, moderate physical activity (like a leisurely stroll to work) for 30 minutes each day can help reduce the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis, and improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels, among other benefits.
Since 2007, Microsoft has provided a shuttle service, called the "Connector," to employees commuting to the company's Redmond, Wash. office. The Connector buses run multiple times per day and along a few different routes. Shuttles are equipped with bike racks, Wi-Fi and power ports.
What makes it cool: The price. The service is completely free to Microsoft employees.
Boston's public transportation system is comprised of a fleet of subways, busses ... and boats. The "T" system, as it's known, includes a comprehensive boat route, to shuttle commuters from outlying neighborhoods like Charlestown, Quincy and Hingham, directly to ports in downtown Boston and at Logan International Airport. The boats operate year round, and most trips take between 10 and 15 minutes. Boston's commuter boat system may comprehensive, but it's not entirely unique. Commuters in areas like Chicago, New York City and Washington state can also take a boat ride to work.
What makes it cool: What bottleneck? Commuting by ferry boat means traffic congestion is almost never an issue.
If you live near a co-worker, take note. Riding to work with a friend makes a great commute for a number of reasons. First, a good conversation can help pass that stuck-in-traffic time pretty quickly. Second, you can ride-easy knowing that your carpool is saving you money -- making fewer trips per week means you'll save on both gas and maintenance, since there will be less wear and tear on your vehicle. Finally, your carpool efforts will help conserve energy and reduce air pollution.
What makes it cool: The savings. Say you commute 15 miles each way, five days a week. In February 2011, the average fuel price in the U.S. was $3.14 per gallon. If your car gets 30 miles per gallon, then you're spending $3.14 per day for a roundtrip commute, or about $816 per year. If a carpool allows you to drive just two days per week instead of five, you'll save about $490 per year. Factor in parking and maintenance costs, and you're savings are even greater.
Kaitlin Madden is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues. Follow @Careerbuilder on Twitter.
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