Which city has the better commute? NYC or LA?

city-new-york-ny-Favim.com-518466 los-angeles

The grass is always greener on the other side.  That is what they say anyways and I am starting to see why.  Especially when it comes to commuting to and from work in Los Angeles when compared to commuting in New York City.

After having spent about 6 years commuting to work in New York City and the past 16 months commuting to work in Los Angeles I think I have a pretty good idea of the good and bad of each cities rush hours.

When I was in NYC I dreaded and loved commuting to work. Over the years I got to experience many different commutes because of job transitions or apartment moves.

My first commute was a 30 to 45 minute commute from Hells Kitchen to the Financial District. My second big commute was from Hell’s Kitchen to East Harlem.  My third big commute was to and from Astoria from Hell’s Kitchen. The fourth commute I had to learn while living in NYC was a 15 minute walking commute from my apartment in Hell’s Kitchen to the hospital I worked at in Hell’s Kitchen.

Each commute was about the same.  Crowded trains, pushy people, fighting to find the perfect place to read my books undisturbed and juggling coffee.

Here in Los Angeles I have had a few different commutes as well.  While public transportation hasn’t played a part in my commuting here yet, it’s really about the route to work as oppose to the mode of transportation.  I’ve taken a mostly back road commute through neighborhoods since moving here. I’ve gone through periods of having to take Santa Monica Blvd. or Wilshire from West Hollywood to Santa Monica.  I’ve also had to take the 10 Freeway to and from work for a period.  Each with their pluses and minus.

This got me thinking.  Which city is nicer to commute to work in and why?

Traffic & Options: images (2)

Both Los Angeles and New York City have major issues when it comes to traffic.  In NYC you can find yourself standing in a group of people on a subway platform 6 or 7 rows deep just trying to get on an already packed train.  I’ve watched multiple trains pass by me in the mornings, particularly when I was commuting to and from East Harlem or Queens, because they were too crowded for me to get on.

Subway cars in NYC are also often held up by train traffic.  That’s right, the MTA has internal traffic jams that they typically blame on signal related issues or passengers holding the doors. Train times are unreliable and not consistent.

Traffic is an everyday reality in LA
Traffic is an everyday reality in LA

In Los Angeles we battle actual vehicular traffic on a daily basis. It can take 30 to 60 minutes for me to get home from work during rush hour and I only live 7 miles away from my office.  The good news is that thanks to apps like Waze and the knowledge of multiple routes between my office and apartment I always have a way to cheat traffic.  When you are in NYC you have very few options unless you are midtown.  You either get on your train or you don’t.

Believe it or not I am giving this one to Los Angeles as being better with traffic and having more route options during rush hour because of the diverse options in routes and more reliability in transportation.

Door to Door:

In New York you often have to walk a bit to get to the subway and then when you get off you will have to walk a bit more to get to your destination.  This is a good way to power walk off any stress you may have.  It also allows for quick stops along the way for things like coffee.

In Los Angeles you typically are in your car from point A to point B.  I find it a bit too overwhelming in the mornings to find parking, park my car, walk into a Starbucks, stand in the same long lines I stood in while in NYC and order coffee on my way to work.  The added time it takes to locate parking is more than enough to make any stops along the way not possible without building in extra time.

Point to commuting in NYC! 

Alone Time:

Both cities offer you a little bit of alone time while commuting in their own ways.  In NYC if you have the ability you can often ignore everyone around you, zone out into your own world and do what you need to do.  It’s a good time to read a book, digest your thoughts and listen to music.  Very often, we find ourselves too busy for these simple activities in modern-day society.  Living in NYC you have time built-in to do just these things.

In Los Angeles you are truly alone when you are commuting (unless you carpool).  Sitting in your car doesn’t allow you to read a book unless you have a book on tape, but it does allow you something commuting by subway in NYC doesn’t allow you to do.  It allows you to be truly alone.  You have time to make calls to your family, a place to cry if you just need a good cry and a place where no one can really bother you.  You are alone with your thoughts, your music and your world.

For me I find that LA wins in this category.  I prefer being truly alone.  It takes more effort to feel like you are having alone time in NYC on a subway even though it is completely possible.


Commuting anywhere in the world can create a long list of aggravations, but between Los Angeles and New York City I think one commute takes the cake in this arena.

Packed subway platform in NYC during rush hour.

In New York City, while commuting by subway, you have to deal with people. People can be the worst!  Whether the people around you are being pushy, loud, rude or smelly you are bound to run into someone who fits one of those descriptions on a regular basis.  Falling in line with this is the fact that you have unauthorized performers begging for money on the subways.  Young

Annoying subway dancer.  The lady on the right says it all with that facial expression!
Annoying subway dancer. The lady on the right says it all with that facial expression!

dancers jump, twist, kick and turn all over subway cars coming inches from commuters faces.  If you refuse to make room for their illegal performances they get aggressive or rude even if the train is too full for you to move.

Subway trains are often delayed or held up mid-trip for unknown reasons.  You can be cruising along when out of the blue the train comes to a complete stop for 15 minutes with no explanation.  At least in Los Angeles you know why you are stopped because you are personally in control of your vehicle.

Los Angeles has a number of aggravations associated with commuting during rush hour in the city as well.  For starters, the traffic is one of the biggest aggravators, mostly because people can’t drive.  I guess I should just say that people are in issue everywhere.  People cut you off, don’t use turn signals to switch lanes and things like that. All of which can drive a man crazy.

When it rains in LA, even if just a few drops, it’s as if every driver on the road forgets how to drive.  It’s just rain LA, step on the gas. At least go the speed limit for the love of God!

Overall, I think the aggravations in NYC were worse for me personally.  I hated being tossed around, fighting for seats, trying to not to breathe because a homeless person is standing nearby who has obviously urinated on themselves a few times. The win goes to Los Angeles. 

Use of time:

This is a bit more difficult. Right out of the gate, I’d have to say I used my commute time more wisely in New York City simply because I could.  I could read on the train, I could write on the train, I could prepare for meetings.  I could study on the train, review notes, or simply play iPhone games to clear my head.

When in LA and commuting in your car you are pretty restricted about what activities you can do.  You have to drive, so you can’t be overly distracted after all.  You can make calls if you have a hands-free device, but otherwise you can’t be extremely productive.

Point goes to New York City!


New York City has a flat monthly rate for your unlimited monthly metrocard.  While the price has slowly increased over the years you still know your exact expenses for the month when it comes to commuting.

In Los Angeles you can’t always gauge how fast your car will burn through gas. You also can’t depend on gas prices since they go up and down on a regular basis.  Then you have to factor in car maintenance fees and insurance.

Overall I think New York City wins in the cost category.


I can always rely on my car, but I can’t always rely on a subway to be there when I need it.  Simply put, LA is a bit more reliable and offers more alternatives than NYC. Point for LA!


Do you really want to be stuck next to this on the subway? ~ Photo by Helayne Seidman
Do you really want to be stuck next to this on the subway? ~ Photo by Helayne Seidman

New York subways and subway stations are old.  I’m sure it’s no surprise that you can come into contact with countless germs, virus’ and bacteria while traveling on public transportation.

My car is as dirty or as clean as I make it and it’s my filth.  Point to LA again!

Los Angeles: 5 Points

New York City: 3 Points

For me, Los Angeles is just a better place to commute to work.  I know a lot of people are going to disagree with me, but it comes down to what you value.  I value less personal aggravation, more alone time, more reliability and the ability to be self-reliant and not reliant on the MTA.

Sometimes even I realize I’m too much!

This morning I woke up thinking it was going to be a good day.  Of course I was a bit tired, but within the first 20 minutes of being awake I had already learned that I’ve lost 3 more pounds, was going to have a cup of coffee and break my no coffee rule again, and a picture I had posted the night before on social media was getting a lot of fun attention.

Then I headed to work and immediately things started to turn sour.  First I backed my car into a trashcan and knocked it over.  That’s always fun!  Then I pulled on to Santa Monica Boulevard to find that traffic was completely stopped.  After ten minutes I realized I had to turn around and go back home because I forgot to take my medicine.  Once home and in the bathroom reaching for my medicine I accidentally dropped my iPhone.  When I picked it up I found that the screen was shattered. After that I got in my car a bit rattled to learn that there was a horrible accident on Santa Monica Boulevard and I’d have to find a new route to work.

Then I received an email from a friend with the subject line “ridiculously amazing”.  Inside the email was a copy of the picture I had posted the night before and a quick note about how my friend finds me to be ridiculous, silly and that she is glad I can always make her laugh.

Personally I think that there is not a person on earth who could successfully argue that I do not have a good sense of humor and that I don’t know how to laugh at myself.  This was proven by this picture last night. Yesterday was a very special day. It was the birthday of one of my dearest friends, Robbie, and also the day before my boyfriends sister visits. Naturally this required both a celebration and a house cleaning, so in true Bobby fashion I grabbed a cosmo and a mop.  Realizing how silly I looked I had Blair, my boyfriend, snap a picture so I could share it with Robbie and Blair’s sister on Facebook and Instagram.

I knew the picture would get some attention since these aren’t private networks, but I didn’t expect how much attention it would receive.  It’s been liked like crazy on Instagram, definitely enjoyed by some of my Facebook friends, tweeted about, emailed about both among my personal and professional networks and I even received a few text messages about it.

As I look back I realize just how funny the picture is which is perfect timing because after the morning I’ve had I needed a good laugh.

Now as I settle into my day I feel the need to laugh more than earlier and decided that it’s best to laugh at yourself. Life pushes you into many difficult situations, frustrating circumstances and sad moments, but it’s how we respond to them that makes us who we are.  Over the past year I have gotten a divorce, moved 4 times, left a job, started a job, said goodbye to all my best friends and family and started a new life.  There have been many wonderful moments, but also many hard moments.  So let’s take a moment to laugh at the way I have handled them.

1. The one that prompted this, the birthday celebration I threw for my friend since we were a country apart and he wasn’t getting to celebrate his birthday all while cleaning.

Weight loss proof

2. Last summer I decided to take a beach trip to Rehoboth to escape New York City. A fun trip with my friend Dustin to the beach ended up getting a bit rainy.  First we found ourselves crowded in a parking deck with a large group of beach goers so I decided to entertain those waiting for the rain to stop with a lovely dance.


By the time we got to the hotel, cleaned up and headed out to the bars it was still raining, so I decided to go out in on the patio at the bar and do a little back-bend in the rain for the guys.


3. Then the month of December came.  Christmas is always emotional when you are going through major transitions. I knew this past Christmas was going to be my last in New York, my last with my friends there and the first home with my family in over 7 years. The month of December found me getting a little too obsessed with Santacon to the point that I couldn’t let go of my elf costume and wore it repeatedly every chance I got.


 4. Then there was the going away party for Blair and I prior to our move from NYC to LA. My friend and I decided to reenact the legendary scene from Titanic at the front of the boat, but failed…

Failed Titanic

5. Then I randomly convinced myself that it wasn’t clear that I am gay on social media so I made my Twitter and Facebook profile pictures pop with rainbow pizzazz. 3ed9d098005411e28df322000a1e9df2_76.  Then I went on a hike and realized I never had to question how gay I come off to people.


7. We can’t forget how I celebrated my favorite holiday, Halloween. I marched through New York City dressed as a Alexander the Great’s concubine (my boyfriend dressed up as Alexander the Great for Halloween). This is real life for me!


8. Then there was that time I thought I should climb a tree at 2 am. I don’t know how this is me getting past tough situations, but it’s pretty much worth inclusion for a laugh.


9.  There was also that time my boyfriend convinced me it would be fun to clean up trash on the beach.  To get over that trashy experience I went to swim in the pool and of course I got a little too excited about the pool floats.

The floaty

10.  And lastly for my most ridiculous moment… The time I showed a little too much emotion at my going away party… and I kissed a girl…

The Girl Kiss

and then I kissed another girl…

The other girl kiss

Then everyone got in on the fun…


And eventually even my boyfriend realized I can be a bit out of control so he made his claim.


And I accepted his ring pop faux-proposal

The ring pop proposal

When life throws you tough situations and unexpected obstacles approach them with humor and laugh at yourself when you do something stupid.

Learning to wake up in LA

good_morning__los_angeles_by_ballookey-d4e9djdSince moving to Los Angeles from New York City I have learned that there are many differences between LA and NYC.  Some of these differences are minor and some are major and with that said, some may be minor but seem major to me.  One of the changes that I am still adjusting to is mornings in LA.

Over 5 1/2 years in NYC I developed a pretty standard ritual that most of my colleagues and friends were also accustomed to.  I would wake-up, walk my dog, get ready for work, ride the subway, walk to my office, sit at my desk, and work for 30 minutes to an hour before I really said a word to anyone.  I would operate in my own bubble until at least 10:30 am allowing me to both wake up and get my day started.  Everyone seemed to operate along the same lines in NYC (although I realize there are plenty of New Yorker’s who are early birds).  We respected the silent commute and the need for many of those around us to ease into their days.  To be honest, half the people I have worked with over the years in NYC didn’t even arrive to their offices until 10/10:30 am.

People here in LA often seem to operate in a much different way in the morning.  You see, here, people seem to wake up and start pounding the pavement… literally!  Everyone seems to workout in the morning, go to coffee meetings and enter their offices in the mornings as energetic as can be.  No matter where I am or what I am doing it seems as if people want to talk to me the second I roll out of bed.  I’ve met more of my neighbors on my morning walks with my dog here in LA than I have at any other time of the day. Let me tell you, when I walk the dog in the morning I have no interest in meeting anyone!  I roll straight out of bed, pull on the first items of clothing I can find and walk the dog looking like a hot mess.   This little fact took me two weeks to really learn! I finally started waiting to walk my dog until after my morning shower just to save face in my neighborhood.

It always seems around here that if people aren’t at the gym waking themselves up in the morning they are surfing in the frigid waters of our area beaches.  No wonder they are wide awake!  If they aren’t surfing they are doing something else.  By the time 10:00 am rolls around and I am finally starting to wake-up and be in a talkative mood, everyone around me seems to have been in a wide awake state of mind for at least 2 hours.

Rolling with the punches and trying to acclimate myself to the culture around me instead of expecting the culture to change for my comfort I have begun waking up a little early and running in the morning.  It hasn’t become a ritual yet, but I would say it is on the way to becoming a ritual.  I’ve noticed the people I know here in LA that wake up and start there days early have very positive attitudes and are very productive.  I wouldn’t mind a positivity  boost and productivity boost in the mornings.

While I would like to say that I would award a point to NYC for understanding the need to take it slow in the mornings I have to give a point to LA for teaching me how to take advantage of my day from the second I get up.