How Long Is the Commute in Westchester?

The average work commute in the US clocks in at 25.4 minutes, according to the US Census Bureau. How do our local commutes compare?

A Train Buff’s Traditional Commute — Chappaqua to Manhattan

Steve Swirsky, 62

Shareholder, Epstein Becker & Green, PC (law firm), Manhattan

Commuting since: June 1989

Route: Drive to Chappaqua Metro-North Station (7 to 10 minutes); train to Grand Central: 63 minutes Total one-way time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

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Pass-the-time strategy: The New York Times crossword puzzle. “I time myself on how many stations it takes to finish—and I have different targets for different days of the week, as the puzzles get progressively difficult.”

Tactic to maximize the fun factor: A lifelong train buff, Swirsky loves exploring Grand Central and visiting its Transit Museum. “I always find something interesting, new, or different along the railroad or at the station.”

Biggest stressor: Finding a seat going home.

Worst commute: The days following the blizzards about 10 years ago, when Metro-North was on limited service, with “very full trains that took two-plus hours one way.”

Biggest upside: Quiet time to read and decompress.

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The Reverse Commuter — Manhattan to Mamaroneck

Brigid McGivern, 32

Art Director, Motif Designs, Mamaroneck

Commuting since: June 2014

Route: Walk to Grand Central (15 minutes), Metro-North train to Mamaroneck (45 minutes), walk to office (5 minutes). Total one-way time: 65 minutes

Pass-the-time strategies: Reading a book or news article, listening to podcasts (Terry Gross, Marc Maron), catching up on Netflix or Hulu, or emails and other work.

Tactic to maximize the fun factor: “I like looking out the window and noticing the beauty of New York and how it can change so much in 45 minutes.”

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Worst commute: Experiencing a “train revolt” when a man locked himself in the restroom for the entire ride. “A group of guys just kept pounding on the door, yelling and getting angry. It made everyone really uncomfortable.”

Biggest upside: Alone time and “knowing I’m either going to work to be productive or going back to the home I love.”

Fun fact: An intern in her office commutes by skateboard.

The (Very) Long-Distance Commuter — Harrison to Minnesota

Jeff Brodsky, 57

Managing Director, Quest Turnaround Advisors, LLC, Rye Brook

Commuting since: August 2013

Route: Brodsky flies each week to a client’s office in Bloomington, MN. He usually leaves on Monday morning and returns Thursday evening. Total one-way time: 6 hours. When in town, he works at home or a local office (5 minutes).

Pass-the-time strategies: Watching video content on an iPad—and working.

Tactic to maximize the fun factor:  In-terminal distractions, like restaurants, shopping, and massage therapy.

Biggest stressors: Things that can’t be controlled—weather, traffic, and other odd events.

Worst commute: For a previous client assignment lasting several years, he commuted to Hawaii once a month—a round-trip time of about 52 hours door-to-door.

Biggest upside: “The opportunity to stay in new parts of the country/world and live as a local in different locations.”

Biggest downside: Being away from the family for four days of every week.

The Multi-Route, Intra-County Commuter — Chappaqua or Harrison to Valhalla

Bruce Rubin, 56

Chief Operating Officer, Westchester Capital Management, Valhalla

Commuting since: January 2010

Route: Back roads to Thornwood and then Columbus Avenue to his office; when commuting from his girlfriend’s house in Harrison, Rubin takes the Hutch. Total one-way time: 12 to 15 minutes from Chappaqua; 17 to 25 minutes from Harrison

Pass-the-time strategy: Listening to 107.1, The Peak.

Tactic to maximize the fun factor: Counting his lucky stars and “thinking about how thankful I am that I am no longer working in New York City.”

Biggest stressor: Ending up stuck behind a school bus.

Most memorable commute: Post-Hurricane Sandy. “My street was closed due to downed trees, so I ended up running the five miles to my office. It took about 45 minutes.”

Worst commute: When the Saw Mill floods around Pleasantville, and is closed. “Usually there’s no notice until you get to the detour, and then the traffic backs up into all the local streets.”


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