Friday, June 22, 2012

The Seven Wastes: Transportation

Awhile back, I had the opportunity to work in Washington DC for about 2 years.  It was very exciting and I was but a bleary eyed young P-Money.  I was so proud to say I worked in the Nation's Capital and I definitely got to see some pretty cool stuff.  From bowling with Congressmen, to watching political convoys or marine one pass bay, the excitement never ceased to amaze me.

The first apartment I had was sharing a bedroom with a roommate in a 5 bedroom townhouse in Georgetown.  My rent at the time was $900/month.  To put this into perspective, there were 7 other people living in this house and sharing just 1 kitchen and 2 bathrooms.  Total rent = $4500/month...ouch!  Georgetown wasn't even that convenient, and I had to walk awhile while also taking at least 1 bus.

Next, I moved to a suburb in Maryland close to the metro in Rockville.  Luckily, with this apartment, I shared a 3 bedroom condo, 2 baths, with 2 other guys for about $2100 per month.  Not to shabby considering I still had about 30 minutes worth of walking on top of a 30 minute metro ride.

My Old Rockville Apartment on the bottom floor.
Finally, for that reason and many more, I had enough of the big city life and instead moved to a smaller city in the north (some might consider the "rust belt").  I got an efficiency downtown for $500, and walked to work (about 20 minutes).  When I think about it, switching cities to a lower cost of living and reduced commute allowed me to have much more of my life back.  On average, my DC commute was 1 hour per trip, 2 hours per day, 10 hours per week...about 20 days of my life per year after vacations, and would have amounted to  2.2 years of my life if I had maintained this commute until I retired.  I was even one of the lucky ones in DC!

It always amazes me how much time people can waste just through their daily commute, which brings me to my next series: "The Seven Wastes" which focuses on the lessons learned via the Toyota Production System or (TPS).

The first one pertains to my own wasted time from the past, and that is Transportation.  Basically, every time a product is moving between places, it is wasted time because nothing productive is being done.  Eliminate the transportation costs while keeping all other costs equal, and you will save big bucks.

This concept directly applies to our own lives.  In the world of expanding suburbs, and exurbs, the less than 30 minute commute is becoming a thing of the past.  Since moving to my current city, I bought a house within the city limits, next to a subway stop in which I get free fare, and still have a commute less than 30 minutes.  I even live in a very nice area.

You have to ask yourself how much of your life are you going to waste for the sake of commuting.  It's true that some of us simply don't have much of an alternative, especially if your spouse works in the opposite direction.  However, it pays to do the homework and consider transportation routes to and from work.  Google maps does a magnificent job calculating routes by car, public transportation, and even walking.  Consider these concepts the next time you decide to move.

Wonderful Moment of the Day - Doing some manual labor and feeling the satisfaction of hard days work accomplished.

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