Commuter Idle: Stafford-Landover commute is a family affair

STAFFORD, Va. — Planning is key when embarking on a 2 1/2-hour morning commute that involves three people, two trains, two buses and a car.

But all bets are off when one of those people is 18 months old.

“I brought her downstairs and fed her some food, and somehow she got the food all over,” says commuter Marcellus Mitchell.

Before he can even head out the door, he and his wife, Burlynda, have to clean up their daughter, Ce’Brieah.

Mitchell is about to make the trek from Stafford to Landover, Maryland, where he works with kids in foster care for the Prince George’s County Department of Social Services.

“Normally, we leave at 5:30,” he says. Despite the setback, the trio is still out the door and in the car with a few minutes to spare.

The pouring rain Friday further complicates their journey. Burlynda navigates through pooling water on local roads while also monitoring radio traffic reports.

“Do you want the music back on?” Burlynda asks Ce’Brieah. “No,” the child, clearly a veteran of these trips, replies.

They make it to the Stafford daycare center to drop off Ce’Brieah and head back to the car.

“Today, because of the flooding, I think we’ll just take 95 and see what happens,” Burlynda says, as they head to a commuter lot in Dumfries.

The decision pays off. They park and make it aboard a 6:20 a.m. bus headed for the Pentagon.

Once there, just before 7 a.m., Burlynda and Marcellus split up. Only Marcellus commutes the full 2 1/2 hours.

“She’ll go to her job; I’ll go catch the Metro,” he says. “I’ll catch the Yellow Line train to L’Enfant, then we’ll transfer to the Blue Line, to Addison Road Station.”

After that, he gets on a Metrobus which arrives at 7:50 a.m. at the complex where his office is housed.

“Ten minutes to spare!” he says.

Marcellus says that a couple days a week he may make the entire trip by himself, taking Virginia Railway Express into the District to change things up.

But the mega-commute takes its toll.

“It’s tiring, it really is tiring… and every day I have to do this thing,” he says.

And it’s not cheap. “I’m spending at least $8,000 to $9,000 a year traveling — just this commute.”

And after a day at the office, he gets to do it all again in reverse.

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