District Heights to Herndon: 2 trains and 3 buses

Lisa Robinson-Foster takes a bus to the Metro, then takes two Metro lines. She then takes two more buses to get to her job. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)

WASHINGTON — Some commutes are complicated. Others are just long. And then there are commutes that contain elements from both columns.

That is where you would find Lisa Robinson-Foster’s daily journey.

“I usually get up about 5:20 and get dressed and head out for the bus at 6:22,” she says.

Robinson-Foster’s morning commute takes her from her home in District Heights, Maryland, to Herndon, Virginia, where she works as a government contractor.

She takes two trains and three buses.

First, Robinson-Foster takes a bus to the Branch Avenue Metro Station. She then rides a Green Line train to L’Enfant Plaza, where she transfers to the Orange Line and takes it all the way to West Falls Church.

There, she catches her second bus and rides it to her third bus, which drops her off about a block from her job.

“I walk out the door at 6:22 and I’m at work anywhere between 8:45 and 9:30,” she says. “And when I get home I still have to cook dinner.”

Robinson-Foster is recently married. She and her husband are saving money for a house.

“To get a car right now is just not an option,” she says.

The commute to work is difficult enough, but the journey back home is even more brutal.

Robinson-Foster must routinely compete with huge crowds as they head to Nationals games and various events downtown. If she misses her bus after riding the Metro, she has to wait an hour for the next one.

Even if she is only one minute late, it costs her that hour, underscoring how fragile the connections in her commutes are: If she is ever delayed for any amount of time along the way, it pushes back everything else.

“I’ve gotten home as late as 9:30 before because one thing led to another led to another,” she says.

Robinson-Foster works an eight-hour day. If both her morning and afternoon commutes go completely according to plan, her total travel time is five hours, costing her $12 per day.

“Everyone asks me the same thing, ‘Why do you do it?’ I actually do it because I like the job that I do,” she says.

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