Is Jersey City to Somerset a reasonable commute?
May 25, 2010 12:11 PM   Subscribe

Want to know about how long (and how bearable) it would be commuting from Jersey City, NJ to Somerset, NJ 5 days a week for work. Has anyone done it? Any thoughts on how 'sustainable' a commute it is? I am mostly concerned with the day-after-day effects of driving this distance. My commute now is via subway and is about 30 minutes each way, including walking.
posted by dvjtj to Travel & Transportation around New Jersey (18 answers total)
according to a generic google map search, it's a 48 minute commute (obviously traffic/construction/etc isn't calculated into that).

I do about 40 minutes each way every day, I've been doing it for 25 years... it becomes no big deal, in fact, it's a chance to think through the day on the way in, and decompress and not dump work stuff on folks when I get home... In the summer I do it on a motorcycle, in the winter (Michigan here, significant snow) in a Jeep... still no big deal.

A big factor here, is ---- do you enjoy driving? If you don't , you'll probably not enjoy this...if you don't mind it, this is doable.
posted by HuronBob at 12:19 PM on May 25, 2010

Response by poster: I do enjoy driving - of course google says 48 minutes, but I am wondering if that changes during rush hour (where it could double in time with traffic)...
posted by dvjtj at 12:29 PM on May 25, 2010

Theoretically, that route would be against the bulk of the traffic during the rush hours. I can't really speak to the specifics of that particular commute, but I commuted about 35 minutes on the Parkway for a couple of years and it didn't kill me.
Car commuting is not like subway commuting. You do get used to it, but when you're accustomed to getting reading, fiddling with work projects, crossword puzzles, or just some well-deserved zoning out done during your commute, discovering that you have to focus on driving the whole commute really sucks. You'll be astonished at how little [whatever you usually do on the train] you actually accomplish at first. Audio books help reclaim some of that time, and many people find they like them better than reading paper books after a while. Check your local library.
On the whole, I'd say it's doable, but not ideal. How out of the question is moving closer to your new workplace, once you've established that you like it there?
posted by willpie at 12:32 PM on May 25, 2010

I do enjoy driving - of course google says 48 minutes, but I am wondering if that changes during rush hour (where it could double in time with traffic)...

It might. I haven't driven that exact route, but I made a commute of a similar length (from North Plainfield, NJ to Wayne, NJ) at the end of college. It was . . . an adventure. Unlike in many suburban areas, there's no guarantee that you'll be driving "against" traffic just because you're driving away from the city. Many people will also be commuting to the Somerset/New Brunswick area, and sometimes, in this sort of Jersey commute, you'll hit a single off-ramp where the traffic frequently backs up (secret shortcuts are good for getting around this, if you can find them).

Having made that commute, and also a lesser Jersey commute of about 20 minutes from North Plainfield to Branchburg, I can tell you that it will eventually wear on you, particularly as the days get shorter, the holidays approach, and people drive more aggressively, especially around commercial centers (which are, as you probably know, everywhere). Sometimes car accidents or heavy rains would increase my 20 minute commute to longer than an hour, and in those situations, back roads (which most of the rest of the suave Jersey commuters know about, too), aren't guaranteed to be much of an improvement. The longer commute, especially, made me twitchy.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:38 PM on May 25, 2010

Could you take a Northeast Corridor train down from Seacaucus?
posted by edbles at 12:39 PM on May 25, 2010

Oh, but maybe helpful: there's a lot of good Jersey radio. You might not get it up near Princeton, but by the time you get close to New Brunswick, you should be able to tune in to WPRB. And there's something of an addictive quality to NJ 101.5, even though I, personally, never really agreed with the politics (maybe that's why I liked listening bunches?). I still miss the radio I was able to listen to during my commute, now that I'm in a different state.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:43 PM on May 25, 2010

Best answer: Totally doable. Half an hour or so most days each way -- one day in four or five the traffic will back up badly enough at the Holland Tunnel to mess with your drive home, but lots of people have far worse commutes. If you live in the JC Heights or the western or southern parts of the city, even easier.

By the way, this is a possibly feasible mass transit commute if your office has a shuttle from New Brunswick NJ Transit. (PATH to Newark, North East Corridor to New Brunswick). Maybe an hour each way?
posted by MattD at 12:46 PM on May 25, 2010

My husband did a commute from Jersey City to Princeton for several months on the Turnpike. He doesn't mind driving, but the commute was unpleasant enough for him that we moved out to the Princeton area pretty quickly. We had hoped to stay in JC for the NYC opportunities, but it was so hard on my husband that we threw in the towel pretty quickly.

He'd had a 25-minute walking commute in Jersey City, but we're Texans and before we moved to the Northeast, we shared a 40-minute driving commute, so a long drive for work was not new to either of us.
posted by immlass at 12:51 PM on May 25, 2010

If you're in JC, this is highly dependent on where you are in the city. During rush hour it might take you an extra 10-15 minutes just to get to the highway, and the same amount of time to get back in. Also, as a resident of North Jersey, I have the impression that snow plowing sucks inside JC, keep that in mind as winter approaches.

Honestly nobody can answer this question without actually driving the route. I strongly suggest you print out some alternate routes and keep them in the car for the inevitable accident or water main break. If you have an iPhone or Android phone, familiarize yourself with the "show traffic" option in in the maps application. If you don't, check Google Maps and before you head out.

Sustainable? Get a Prius.
posted by exhilaration at 12:52 PM on May 25, 2010

Response by poster: Hahaha 'get a Prius'...

I will look into the Northeast Corridor train, but I have a hunch that driving might just be easier...
posted by dvjtj at 1:05 PM on May 25, 2010

NJTransit will take you more or less door-to-door from Newark Penn Station (easily accessible from Jersey City) to Somerset. You can get to Newark Penn via PATH from Journal Square.

Remember that tolls on the turnpike will cost you $3.10 each way, plus ~35 miles worth of fuel and wear on your vehicle. By comparison, the train costs $9 each way. If you buy a monthly pass, and make a round trip 5 days a week, it works out to $6.20 per trip -- roughly the same as the equivalent car commute. You'll also get some exercise walking to and from the station!

And there's something of an addictive quality to NJ 101.5, even though I, personally, never really agreed with the politics (maybe that's why I liked listening bunches?)

Not to derail, but I once quit my job because I was forced to listen to 101.5 for the duration of my (night) shift, and deal with a boss who continually commented about "how right they were". To say that their politics are incendiary is a gross understatement.

posted by schmod at 1:26 PM on May 25, 2010

...and traffic shouldn't be too bad until you hit Route 1, which always seems like it's jammed.
posted by schmod at 1:27 PM on May 25, 2010

Im in NJ and do about a 35 minute commute. Can't speak specifically about yours and I know that this might be obvious but leaving earlier for work/ later for home can make a huge difference. Its probably something you will get to know better as you start making the trip but if you can alter your hours slightly it can add up.
posted by Busmick at 1:35 PM on May 25, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the comments everyone!
posted by dvjtj at 1:38 PM on May 25, 2010

I've done a similar commute in central NJ (east-to-west, supposedly against traffic) and second PhoBWanKenobi and immlass. It will wear on you, even if you like driving (I do, but commuting is not the fun kind of driving, and that commute is worse than most).

Depending on exactly where in Somerset you're going to, look into NJ Transit. It might end up being a Path-Newark Penn-Raritan Valley trip rather than NE Corridor if it's closer to Bound Brook than New Brunswick. NJT bus service is very pleasant if you're near the route you'd need, not especially useful otherwise. It's a pleasant walk toward Somerset from the New Brunswick rail station (assuming you use that one).

I'd suggest transit over driving for that commute even if it takes longer. The only good things about a driving commute in central NJ are Soterios Johnson in the mornings and White Castle in the evenings. They don't really outweigh the stress and hassle. Turnpike commutes are brutal, and I doubt you'd make it in a half-hour each way.
posted by asperity at 1:39 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

I commute from Asbury Park NJ to Princeton NJ daily (right around an hour to an hour and 15 mins depending on traffic.

I don't mind it, BUT (and this is a big fat juicy spankable BUT) I pretty much get to come and go on a time scheduale I choose and so I avoid traffic. If I had to be in the office by 8:30 or 9 my commute time would be about 1 hour and 45 mins each way. (Princeton is liek a traffic bottleneck)
posted by WeekendJen at 2:02 PM on May 25, 2010

Oh, my point was that if you can get a flexible schedule this commute is totally do-able
posted by WeekendJen at 2:03 PM on May 25, 2010

I agree with the sentiments here that it's not the time/distance, it's the traffic. The turnpike makes NYC metro to New Brunswick metro pretty simple. I have no idea exactly where in Somerset you'd be commuting, as it's a rather big municipality but if it's say, near New Brunswick, it's pretty much just Turnpike to Rt 18. Where the Turnpike and 18 meet though, can be pure hell traffic wise. There's a merge from the Turnpike (briefly Rt 18, technically) to Rt 1 south which has to be the worst merge in the entire state. Some of you other locals know what I'm talking about. I live in Somerset County and have to do this every time I come in through the turnpike.

I guess it comes down to how well you deal with traffic.

If the poster was going to New Brunswick, I'd say NJ Transit would be an option, but they're going to Somerset, which is at best, like, a good mile from the NJ Transit station and possibly like, 10 miles into rural Somerset Co. Plus the added time (and expense) to PATH-it to Newark Penn. It just seems like a convoluted commute to say the least. I'd rather deal with the traffic.

ALSO: Having a SO that is a public school teacher with ingrain you with a hatred of 101.5 as deep as the earth's core.
posted by tremspeed at 8:30 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

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