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First Annual Amazing Commute Race

Maggie Awad
Maggie Awad August 26, 2015 Maggie Awad is the former Marketing Director at Arlington Transportation Partners.
ATP TAKEAWAY: Simply put, there's more than one way to commute to work.

At exactly 7:30am at Petworth Metro Station in NW DC, five teams converged hungry for donuts and to see who would be the winner in Arlington Transportation Partners’ first annual Amazing Commute Race. Teams consisted of a single person trying one of the following five commute modes: Metrorail, Split, Bridj, Capital Bikeshare and Uber.

Why you ask? Good question. The easy answer is, because it’s a fun idea. We love fun.

The other easy answer is because as transportation demand management (TDM) professionals, we literally encourage residents and visitors in the DC metro region to consider sustainable and active commutes to benefit Arlington County. However, mama didn’t raise no fool, and we know that there are tons of options out there, including driving alone. So we thought we’d try all the options for you, simultaneously, and see what mode comes out on top.

For the sake of the race, we’ve marked “winners” below with first, second, third, fourth and fifth place. However, what this doesn’t mean is that first place is necessarily the best. At the end of the day it’s all subjective; but in our book, the best comes down to cost, time and stress. Below is a breakdown of each commute, with a handy chart at the end, for any nerds out there.

But first, a selfie and a few rules:

Commute Race - Selfie

  • Start in a location that encompasses all five modes of transit
  • For services that don’t extend into Arlington (ie. Split and Bridj), teams are allowed to go multimodal
  • Provide updates for the live Twitter feed, the good and the bad, to give readers a realistic experience
  • Teams have completed their route when they have arrived at their desk, in business clothes, ready to start the day
  • All teams end in Rosslyn, 1501 Wilson Blvd

Commute Race Winners

5th Place – Bridj

Commute Race - BridjQuick Snap: While a viable option for connecting DC neighborhoods, Bridj doesn’t extend into Arlington. Unfortunately, Bridj came in last due to downtown traffic issues.


  • Team Member: Brendan Casey
  • Modes used: Bridj > Metro > Walk
  • Total price of trip: $5.15 (Bridj: $3.00, Metro: $2.15)
  • Time of entire trip: 67 minutes
  • Brendan’s take: “Only two people on board and both of us got on at Grant Circle. Seemed like there was a lot of needless driving through Petworth when Bridj would have known that there were no other passengers booked for that shuttle. I do like that Bridj uses bus stop areas for pick up and drop off and avoids the “I'mma block this lane, but it’s cool cause my flashers are on” scenario. The driver was great, avoided bumps when safe to do so, no erratic driving and I felt safe and comfy the whole time. Despite coming in last, it really was a good experience, albeit far too long for me for the distance traveled.”
  • Trip details:
    • 7:30am start from Georgia Avenue, Petworth Metro Station
    • 7:41am pickup - right as scheduled, nice driver, comfortable temperature, free WiFi!
    • 8:19am drop off at 2300 Penn NW, walk to Foggy Bottom Metro
    • 8:24am in Metro Station
    • 8:26am Silver Line arrives
    • 8:37am at desk


4th Place – Metrorail

Commute race - MetroQuick Snap: Metro was used as a control of sorts, since we assumed most people coming from Petworth would likely choose Metro, for at least part of their journey. Missed trains and crowded cars made this commute a little longer than it needed to be, but that’s just how the cookie crumbles.


  • Team Member: Keara Mehlert
  • Modes used: Metro > Walk
  • Total price of trip: $2.75
  • Time of entire trip: 55 minutes
  • Keara’s take: “Started in Petworth and just missed a train headed South while I was going down the stairs, and a new train at that! Had to wait almost 10 minutes for the next train because an earlier one was offloaded at Ft. Totten. Instead of switching at L’Enfant, I decided to switch twice from Green to Red to Silver/Blue/Orange at Gallery Place and Metro Center. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get on a train at Gallery Place because it was too crowded and had to wait 3 minutes for the next train. After that it was pretty smooth sailing.”
  • Trip details:
    • 7:30am start from Georgia Avenue, Petworth Metro Station
    • Switched at Gallery Place, Green Line to Red Line
    • Switched at Metro Center, Red Line to Silver/Blue/Orange Line
    • 8:25am at desk


3rd Place – Split

Commute Race - SplitQuick Snap: Similar to Bridj, Split does not currently operate in Arlington; however, it is able to take it’s riders a bit further and took this team member all the way to Georgetown. With DC-only service, a multimodal trip was necessary.


  • Team Member: Jonathan Bollhoefer
  • Modes used: Split > Capital Bikeshare > Walk
  • Total price of trip: $7.25 (Split: $7.02, Daily rate for annual Capital Bikeshare membership: $0.23)
  • Time of entire trip: 47 minutes
  • Jonathan’s take: “I opened my Split app casually and set the pin for my current location and destination. I planned to travel from Petworth to a bikeshare station in Georgetown near the edge of the Split service area. From there I knew I could finish the journey on Capital Bikeshare across the Key Bridge into Rosslyn. After setting my pins, I walked a short half block for my pickup location. I had about an 8 minute wait until my car would arrive. I took the time to check some emails and catch up on the news. My Split arrived in only 6 minutes and we were on our way! Carla was kind enough to take a selfie with me to document my excitement. As expected, we hit a good bit of traffic while traveling through some of the more populated areas of DC. Cardozo and DuPont Circle were both inundated with rush hour traffic that slowed down the drive. The ride with Split took 24 minutes. I checked out a Capital Bikeshare bike and rode the final 1.3 miles across the Key Bridge and docked at Ft Myer Drive/Wilson Blvd before walking into to the office at 8:17AM.”
  • Trip details:
    • 7:30am start from Georgia Avenue, Petworth Metro Station
    • 7:37am Split pickup on Quincy St NW
    • 8:01am arrival in Georgetown at Capital Bikeshare Station (Wisconsin Ave NW and Waters Alley NW)
    • 8:14 bike docked at Ft Myer Drive/Wilson Blvd
    • 8:17am at desk


2nd Place – Capital Bikeshare

Commute Race - Capital BikeshareQuick Snap: With the advantages of bike infrastructure, this team member was able to skip traffic that other modes hit and arrive with enough time to even take a shower!


  • Team Member: Grace Oran
  • Modes used: Capital Bikeshare
  • Total price of trip: $1.73 (Daily rate for annual membership: $0.23, $1.50 in overage fee since trip was more than 30 minutes*)
  • Time of entire trip: 44 minutes (31 minutes for trip time, 13 minutes for shower/change)
  • Grace’s take: “I’m so energized, I don’t even need a cup of coffee! It was lovely to feel the wind in my helmet-hair and be immersed in the sights and sounds of the city. We had perfect weather so it was great to be outside instead of in a car or tunnel. I got in my workout for the day, and if I want to, I can take the Metro or go multi-modal on the way home. On the downside, I biked a few roads that aren’t so bike-friendly, like M Street through Georgetown, which can be pretty frustrating. If there was bad weather, I’d probably rather be in another form of transportation. Also, I got one of the last few bikes at my starting station - if we had left a little later, all the bikes would have been gone and I would have needed to walk about 10 minutes to the nearest station. Bikeshare is a popular commute option!”
  • Trip details:
    • 7:30am start from Georgia Avenue, Petworth Metro Station
    • Picked up Capital Bikeshare at Georgia & New Hampshire Avenue NW
    • New Hampshire Ave NW to 11th St to Florida Ave NW
    • Florida Ave NW back to New Hampshire Ave NW to R St NW
    • R St NW to 23rd St NW to M St NW through Georgetown
    • Key Bridge across to Rosslyn
    • 8:02am bike docked at Lynn & 19th St North
    • 8:15 at desk

*Overage fees can be avoided when you “dock surf” along your route (ie. quickly dock and undock your bike).


1st Place – Uber

Commute Race - UberQuick Snap: No one is surprised this option won with door to door service, but it did put another car on the road that didn’t necessarily need to be there, especially since I was riding alone. Also, at nearly $14 per ride (one way), it’s not a financially sound option for a daily commute.


  • Team Member: Maggie Awad
  • Modes used: Uber (Lyft was running their 50% off deal and we needed accurate pricing for the race)
  • Total price of trip: $13.78
  • Time of entire trip: 31 minutes
  • Maggie’s take: “The driver was very friendly, like most Uber drivers I’ve had in the past; while not super chatty, we did talk about Paris a bit since that’s where he’s from. The driver didn’t take the route I might have, but he was following Waze so I figured he was driving where there would be less traffic. I was also busy live tweeting and not paying attention to the route, which I think is accurate of most riders since they’re probably busy doing something else. We travelled from Petworth to 16th St to M St to K St and then onto White Hurst Freeway. We did hit a few GPS snags, nearly going down a road that had been blockaded for morning rush hour, but all in all, it was an easy trip. My only stress was keeping up with the tweets from the other teams!”
  • Trip details:
    • 7:30am start from Georgia Avenue, Petworth Metro Station
    • 7:36am pickup on Quincy St NW
    • 7:59am drop off at 1501 Wilson Blvd
    • 8:02am at desk

As promised, a cheat sheet to the race. As you can see, it all depends on what you consider a win. The best and worst for cost and time are marked below.

Commute Race Cheat Sheet

So the question is – what’s your preferred commute mode?

Tags: Capital Bikeshare, Metro, Amazing Commute Race, Arlington County, ATP Staff, Commute


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