While it may not seem like it if you’re driving through construction on I-435, Kansas City is actually one of the best cities to commute in. According to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau last year, KC has the second-shortest average commute time, at about 23 minutes. That number can vary based on whether you’re driving alone, carpooling, or taking public transportation, but even then most commutes take less than an hour. That’s shorter even than hip towns like Portland, OR, and significantly shorter than the bigger cities like Chicago or NYC.
Even though our commutes are pretty good, they could always be better. Consider these tips for surviving the trip to work, relatively stress-free.
Check for Public Transportation Options
Kansas City’s public transportation, by way of the bus system, has had issues in the past,but it keeps improving. If you’re downtown, the streetcar travels a constant loop through the center of the city, and it’s free to ride. The bus system continues to study better routes and schedules. New routes have been added to the southern part of the city, and a new transit center allows for more flexible rides. Visit http://www.kcata.org/ for details of routes, schedules, and fees.
RideshareKC is also an increasingly-popular option. Carpools tend to be slightly shorter commutes, overall, than driving alone and helps combat congestion on the roads. Rideshare helps organize carpools based on where you live, where you’re going, and when you need to commute. It also provides resources about planning other kinds of travel, and links to several resources for bicycling to work as well. It also serves as a back-up plan if your other public transportation options don’t pan out. Visit https://www.ridesharekc.org/ for more information.
Know the Best Routes
As with any town, some commutes are always better than others. It’s always worth knowing which routes have the best and worst traffic during the day. Most people who live in the Northland know to plan extra time to cross the bridges into downtown, and everyone is aware that I-35 and some stretches of I-435 are going to be jammed up at certain times of the day.
Google Maps can display traffic problems, and can show you which areas are the slowest right now. It can also display if there is construction or an accident on your route. The KC Scout app also provides live traffic cams, syncs with the mobile billboards, and can provide live traffic data which includes estimated traffic times.
Be Safe on the Roads
While you’re on the road, avoid too many distractions. Even talking on the phone hands-free can be as bad as driving while intoxicated, depending on how much you have to pay attention to the conversation. Make sure your mirrors are well-positioned so you can see everything, stay off the phone except for short, casual conversations, and by all means, don’t text! It’s also a good idea to avoid all the other little things we sometimes do on the roads when traffic seems slow: don’t eat, fix your makeup, put on ties, or try to look up information on your phone. When you’re driving safely, your anxiety level drops, and you also cause less stress for others. That leads to less aggressive driving and a smoother commute for everyone.
Relax, Don’t Work
If you’re going to be forced to spend close to half an hour doing nothing but driving, then don’t pile on work–especially since you’re not getting paid for it! Avoid conversations with your boss or other employees, don’t listen to reports, don’t check your email until you’re at your job. Even if you’re on public transportation or in a carpool, use that time to chill out. Listen to your favorite podcasts or good music, have a fun non-work-related chat with people. Check your social media (unless that stresses you out).
In general, treat your time during the commute as a break between home and your job where you can focus on other things. And always appreciate that you live in Kansas City, not Atlanta or Los Angeles, where the rush hours can last all night long.