THE GREAT COMMUTE: Traffic team Katherine & Elissa put public transportation to a time test

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The daily commute can take a toll on your car and you, so why not ditch the drive? Traffic anchor Elissa Rivas and I teamed up to test whether public transportation really saves you time.

With the stopwatch ticking, we start our commute race at 8:30 a.m. at the AMC Theater at Sugar Land Town Center parking lot where Fort Bend Express picks up riders every weekday.

Elissa hopped on the express shuttle, and I got behind the wheel of my own car. While I battle rush hour, Elissa is taking it easy.

"I have time to check emails, and return any kind of messages that I'm getting from my employer or my husband who is on his way to work," Elissa explains.

We start off neck and neck, but that changes quickly. Elissa reaches Beltway 8 at 8:40 a.m., I arrive eight minutes later at 8:48. The shuttle full of riders can use the HOV, providing an escape from congestion in the mainlanes, a luxury that makes these passengers feel like royalty.

"I feel like a king when I go on this bus," rider Balas Chanda said.

By 8:50, Elissa has already passed the 610 interchange, and I am stuck five miles behind at Bellaire.

"I can't say that I am surprised by this traffic, but it is no fun sitting in it," I reflect.

At 9:08, Elissa reaches our destination in the Texas Medical Center, and I am still on the freeway, but at 9:27 I finally arrive.

My drive took 58 minutes 51 seconds, but it took Elissa just 40 minutes to make the commute on the shuttle. Taking public transportation saved 18 minutes 21 seconds, enough extra time to grab coffee and get ready for the day.

One-way rates range from $1 to $3.50, depending on destination.

"You don't have to pay for any parking, you just have to pay a cheap toll to get on the bus," Isaac Perez of the Houston Galveston Area Council explained.

Fort Bend Transit services three different routes with destinations in the Medical Center, Greenway, and the Galleria.

Check out commuting resources in your neighborhood.

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