With her car broken and gas prices up, Briana LaMare headed into Union Station to catch the 9:47 a.m. train Tuesday — part of a new commuting routine that’s growing on her.
LaMare heads from New Haven each morning to Darien to manage a shop called Hands On Pottery.
LaMare, 25, said the inconvenience of not having her car for commuting has ended up being a blessing in disguise.
“Gas prices have gotten way out of control,” LaMare said. “If anything, I feel like I’ve caught a break.”
LaMare has lived in Westville for nearly five years. Chatting before the train’s arrival with the “Word on the Street” segment of WNHH’s FM’s “LoveBabz LoveTalk” program, she said that taking the train to work has allowed her to save a significant amount of money on gas and car insurance.
She has been taking the train to work since her 2002 Subaru Outback broke down on March 2. She decided not to fix it.
Before the breakdown of her Outback, she spent approximately $200 on gas alone a month.
“I didn’t realize how much cheaper it is to commute,” LaMare said. “I’ve been trying to save money and live my best life.”
Right after she began taking the train, gas prices began spiking.
The only downside for LaMare has been getting up at 7 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. to leave time to catch the bus from Westville and connect to the train. She took an Uber Tuesday morning to not risk missing the train and being late to open up the store.
“I would say it’s worth it since I’m saving money,” LaMare said. “I mean, I would much rather be in the privacy of my own car and to be able to drive in to work, but it’s $5, almost $6 a gallon — that’s outrageous! Most people can’t afford that.”
Another advantage she didn’t expect from bus-and-rail commuting: the chance to view the city through a fresh set of eyes, to explore the Elm City more.
“I feel like with my new commute, I have a different respect for the area and what there’s to offer, and what there’s to do,” LaMare said. “Sometimes when I get off the bus, I’m like, ‘Oh maybe I’ll do something downtown for a minute before I catch a different bus home!’ It’s not a big deal, and there’s plenty to do.”
She also gets a chance to talk to others on the bus.
“There’s people on the bus who are always super friendly,” LaMare said. “And they want to kind of see who’s in the community and ask questions. I love it!”
Before the war broke out in Ukraine, LaMare paid $20 to fill up half a tank of gas. She said that the price jumped to $50. LaMare said that she’s “in understanding” of what it takes to support the Ukrainian people.
“It’s not ideal,” LaMare said. “But I’m sure what they’re dealing with isn’t even close to ideal. It’s heartbreaking and unfortunate. I hope we can come to a resolution soon.”
Once LaMare arrives at the Darien station, it’s only a 5- to 10-minute walk to her job from the train line. Her initial plan was to get a new car right away to get back on the road, but now she’s reconsidering that idea.
“With the gas prices and where it’s at, I might just stick it out a little longer and keep saving until I can get a nice, new set of wheels,” LaMare said. “For now, I just hope we all stick together and be kind to one another as we go through this time.”