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Commuter Idle: From Sparrows Point to D.C.

Monday - 5/21/2012, 5:23am  ET

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Brenda Wells is one of the finalists in WTOP's Commuter Idle contest. (WTOP/Kristi King)
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Listen: Wells named 'Idle' winner live on WTOP

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The 5+ hour commute

WTOP's Kristi King makes the commute with Brenda Wells from Sparrows Point to D.C. (Runs 1:32)

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Why make a crazy commute

WTOP's Kristi King makes the commute with Brenda Wells. (Runs 1:47)

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Congratulations to Brenda Wells, WTOP's first-ever Commuter Idle! Brenda has won $1000 in gas money, plus she'll get a day off from driving with a limo ride to and from work courtesy of Reston Limousine. Our two runners-up will each receive $150 in Exxon Mobil gas cards.

SPARROWS POINT, Md. - Brenda Wells knows what it means to commute.

This single mother of three children wakes up at 3 a.m. to the sound of an alarm clock playing "Reveille."

She is out of her Baltimore County home in Sparrows Point by 4 a.m. and headed to work in D.C.

Her commute includes a car ride, a MARC train ride, a Metro ride and a Metrobus ride.

First, she drives to Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, crossing two bridges and paying $3 in tolls.

She then takes the 4:48 a.m. MARC train to D.C.'s Union Station and waits another 10 to 15 minutes for the Metro, where she'll take the Red Line to the Blue Line at Foggy Bottom. The last leg of her journey to the office is on a bus.

Her roundtrip commute runs five hours or longer, provided the transit systems are on schedule.

So why does she make this trip?

"First, I'm a single mom. I have three small kids. I love my kids. I got to provide for them. Two, I love my job," Wells tells WTOP's Kristi King, who recently accompanied her on the long commute.

Wells is a federal worker with the Department of State in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, where she assigns special agents to the consulates and embassies around the world.

Her children are 9, 7 and 3, and Wells says she can't afford to live closer to D.C. Her parents help her out with child care.

Wells packs her breakfasts to take with her and never sleeps on the MARC train because she's "too scared" she'll miss her stop.

"I bring my lunch in every day, to save," she says.

For Wells, the day is structured around the commute -- even her 9 p.m. bedtime -- which is something her children seem to understand.

"They know when it's time for mama to go to bed. Mama goes to bed and for the most part they're turning off my light. We have an evening ritual," Wells says.

But she admits the commute is difficult.

"Every morning it's a struggle to get up and just keep on going," she says.

WTOP's Kristi King braved the commute with Wells as part of WTOP's Commuter Idle series. Watch their journey below:

Follow Kristi King and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)