Extreme Commuter: the west Bronx to Long Island
By Marlene Naanes
Young husband and father Melvin Windley endures an almost 2 Â½ hour weekday commute to work and a hefty three-hour haul for overtime on Saturday to provide for his family.
Windley, 22, crosses the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens and Long Island by foot, subway and bus to get to his job in medical billing at North Shore Cardiology in Great Neck. The west Bronx resident said hes been trekking there for a year and a half to support his wife and 20-month-old-son.
Someone has to make the sacrifice and someone has to get those bills paid and its me, Windley said. I have to go out there and bear that commute.
Windley avoids a costly Long Island Rail Road monthly pass by taking several subway lines to Flushing. There, he hops on a Long Island Bus to Great Neck.The bus is rarely on time and sometimes breaks down, adding an extra 45 minutes to his commute, he said. Its Saturday schedule is the most unpredictable, but taking it saves him a $150 monthly LIRR ticket.
Not only is it expensive, its not really that much shorter, he said of the commuter railroad.
Despite the grueling commute, Windley is happy for his job, which seemingly came about through divine intervention a month after his son was born.
I didnt even remember applying for these guys, he said. I felt like it was a calling from God or something.
The cons of the trip include bad weather and having to carry two pairs of shoes in the winter so he can hike through heavy snow on Long Island.
Its almost like going to gym class or something, he quipped.
However, the commute also gives Windley, who supplements his income performing Christian rap, time to compose music. Along two of his subway lines, he sees New Yorks baseball stadiums come alive during the summer.
Its really exciting just to hear the crowd and see the flashing lights, he said. Not only is it exiting to watch the game, its like a game on the train with the people who are going to the game.
And one stretch of his Long Island bus commute gives him something living in the congested city cant.
The atmosphere is a little like being in the forest, he said. Its like a trip past heaven.
5:30 a.m. Wake up.
6:45 a.m. Leave home and head to the No. 4 train.
7:30 a.m. Get off at 59th Street station and transfer to the N.
7:45 a.m. Get off at Queensboro Plaza and transfer to the No. 7.
8:10 a.m. Get off at the Flushing station.
8:23 a.m. Get on a Great Neck-bound Long Island bus.
9:05 a.m. Arrive at work.
4:58 p.m. Leave work.
5:05 Catch Flushing-bound Long Island bus.
6 p.m. Take the No. 7 train to Grand Central.
6:40 p.m. Get on a Bronx-bound No. 4 train.
7 p.m. Get off at the Mt. Eden Avenue station and walk home.