Top 15 Reasons Why You Should Consider Using Public Transportation While Commuting To and From Work

Por: Ricardo Villarreal

Chief Exploration Officer at PANAMA LAYOVER

“Beauty surrounds us, but usually we need to be walking in a garden to know it” – Rumi

Commuting to and from work is an ongoing ritual for most of us, unless of course we are fortunate enough to work “remotely” from home.

Once we finally reach our place of employment, we observe our fellow colleagues, who are professionals, from entry-level employees to top management, begin the day by immediately immersing themselves in assigned projects within the confines of their offices or cubicles. Hours later, a few lucky souls may emerge to grab a quick lunch, briefly chat with colleagues about project related topics, then rush back and again confine themselves to their desks. These folks aren’t antisocial, it may just be the pressure of deadlines that consume them. Understandably, embarking on a project within a highly complex work environment requires our undivided attention. Some of us tend to sink our teeth into that meaty assignment, rightfully so since it could potentially lead to our own advancement, and ultimately our loss of contact with reality. As the workday comes to an end, everyone rushes out of the office to try and beat the horrors of gridlock! Often times we commute by ourselves in the comfort of our own cars without even stopping for five minutes to take-in the world around us. We only hear the voices of our supervisors, immediate co-workers, employees, or clients and miss opportunities to listen in on the voices of our cities, neighborhoods, and streets. We are surrounded by so much and yet we are so disconnected.

How about treating yourself to the use of public transportation on a regular basis? Yes, it’s definitely important to consider alternative transportation in some larger cities though you may feel a sense of insecurity or helplessness as you contemplate leaving your car behind. Many individuals prefer the safety of their own cars over buses or railways. For example, in Latin America approximately 80% of the population, an estimated 800 million individuals, use public transportation and that number rises to about 92% during peak hours. Yes, boarding a bus during these peak hours may feel like being a sardine in a jam-packed can! We even interviewed a frequent commuter who explained (in a sarcastic but humorous tone) that “in my city, traveling on a bus is your penance for sins committed during the weekend”. However, contrary to popular belief, taking public transportation in some cities (not all!) could be seen as relaxing or even a treat. Of course you need to choose the right form of transportation that suits your needs, but wouldn’t it be nice to have someone do the driving for you once or twice a week? If that sounds too ambitious, maybe try a couple of times a month for starters. Not convinced, yet? Well, here we’ve compiled a list of reasons why fast-paced, highly-committed professionals like yourselves should consider using other forms of transportation, such as walking, biking, or better yet, public transportation whenever possible:

  1. Meditate and organize your thoughts. When was the last time you did that? Honestly.
  2. Entertain an internal dialogue on what “growth” truly means to you, either professionally, as a parent, spouse, friend, or volunteer.
  3. Listen to public opinion on a variety of topics. Strive to master the skill of actively listening to others. This is harder than you think. Maybe you can even learn a few key “nuggets of gold” which can be used later at work or at home.
  4. Let the creative juices flow! Having a bit of quiet time with your own thoughts can make you a more productive and valuable employee. We’ve all heard “I’m so busy I don’t have time to think!” Now that is scary if you were to really stop and think about it. If you don’t set time aside to think, you are potentially holding yourself back at work and at home.
  5. Develop your observational skillset. Learn to read body language more carefully. This might help you when communicating with others.
  6. Get down to basics, see things from the ground up. Breaking down complex projects/activities gives us a greater appreciation for the tasks which lie ahead.
  7. Learn a new language, especially for those of us working on global projects. That’s one way to impress your supervisor and colleagues around the globe.
  8. Understand the impact of our own environmental footprint. How much are you contributing to the pollution or hazards around us by commuting solo?
  9. Consider networking and expanding your client-base. You’d be surprised that while riding on a bus or sharing a taxi with another professional you may end up finding a mentor, the next manager your hire, or your soul mate.
  10. Make new friends. Remember, it’s not always about work.
  11. Embrace all that is happening in the world around you, beyond your office doors.
  12. Notice new businesses or homes emerging along your commute. Are there potential opportunities for you out there? Assess how can you support those businesses joining your neighborhood?
  13. Gain a true understanding of the challenges involved in commuting from one place to another. Can you come up with better ways to improve your own commute?
  14. Decompress from daily stressors. While everything and everyone around you are moving at warp-speed, use this time to simply relax. After a typical workday, you’ve earned it!
  15. Finally, if you manage to decompress, then just sit back and daydream.

 

Consider using your surroundings to your advantage, be more “street smart”. Feel the pulse of the streets, its vibrations, and perceive the voices emanating from the local businesses. You’ll be surprised as it may offer you the ability to make more practical decisions which may be perceived as “thinking outside the box”.

The fewer complexities associated with a project could translates into less time to complete the task, and potentially less expenses incurred, all of which will impress your supervisor/clients. Allow yourself to embrace what’s out there, instead of sitting for countless hours behind your steering wheel day in and day out. Think of the possibilities that await you!

This article is a collaborative, conceptual and English translation effort with my long-time friend Ana Zita Garces Saldaña.