Short commute with lots of stops. What to do?

Discussion in 'Toyota Camry Hybrid' started by HiBreed, Nov 11, 2008.

  1. HiBreed

    HiBreed New Member

    Hello all!

    I've been lurking for a few weeks, studying the forums, and here's the first question I wasn't able to find an answer for. By the way, THANK YOU for all the great info!

    I have a short commute from home to train station (Long Island Railroad), about 2 miles total, with no less than 7 (seven!) stop signs and two or three traffic lights (depending on where I park). The first light is 60-90 seconds, the second one is 30-60 seconds, and the third one is three minutes.

    Driving my brand new (about 500 miles total) '09 TCH :bananapartyhat: I'm using all the hypermiling techniques I've learned here, except FAS, which I'm a bit hesitant to do on a hybrid. My SG is on the way from Wayne :Banane45:, so I'm looking forward to learning a lot more.

    So far, on any trip other than my commute, I consistently get over 40mpg, but going to the station and back I'm struggling to get anything better than 25mpg. I was wondering if anyone could give me advice on what I can do to improve that. I've already considered walking and bike riding :D

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Skwyre7

    Skwyre7 Well-Known Member

    Is there an alternate path that has fewer stop signs/lights? Other than that, the only thing I can think of is an EBH. Oh, and welcome!
  3. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    Be sure to include longer routes in your search. If you are only hitting 25mpg over 2 miles anything that will use less than 0.08g will work.

    On the other hand, aside from increased wear and tear due to never warming up you really are using a very small amount of fuel. :thumbs_up:
  4. bomber991

    bomber991 Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure how similar the TCh is to the Prius, but you should be able to pulse and glide pretty good. I mean the hybrid system between the two is about the same isn't it? Seems like your car should be shutting off at the long stop lights at least.

    Here's the article on the Prius
  5. MaxxMPG

    MaxxMPG Hasta Lavista AAA-Vee Von't Be Bach

    Welcome, HiBreed. The short cold-start commute is a killer and there isn't much we can do about the colder temps or the stop signs. I'm within a mile of the LIRR, so I know what you're up against. What I do is take the route with the fewest stop signs, even it if means getting to traffic lights instead. A light gives you the chance of coasting to a green, while the stop sign means stop no matter how slow you approach.

    Bear in mind that 25mpg isn't bad for short trips on a cold start. Most mid-size cars are getting about half that as they head off to the station under the same conditions.

    My suggestions (with varying practicality) -
    1 - Tires at sidewall max
    2 - Synthetic oil on the next oil change
    3 - If anyone living near you also travels to the LIRR, carpool with them in your car, unless their car does better on FE . You won't save gas money, but the overall gas burned will be more than cut in half.
    4 - Park the car in the garage (if you have one), to keep the engine that little bit warmer at startup and reduce usage of wipers (for dew/frost) and defroster (which runs the AC compressor).
    5 - Engine block heater, if the car is close enough to an AC outlet to make this a practical idea. Even with LIPA's rate somewhere around <sarcasm> $250 a milliwatt/minute </sarcasm>, the electric usage of a block heater is not bad enough to really run up the bill.
    6 - Although the stop signs require that you stop, there is nothing (other than the FSP behind you crawling up your rump) stopping you from taking it real easy during the approach to the stop sign. Whenever possible, let the car's momentum take you up to the required stop.
    7 - Easy braking will let the regen put some of the power back into the battery, so gentle driving on cold startups will minimize the usage of the friction brakes and conserve energy.
  6. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk 2010 Prius (CAN Touring) Staff Member

    2 miles? Walk?
  7. rdprice64

    rdprice64 Still Learning

    What is your "Launch" like? Is it downhill from where you park to the end of the street? Or is it immediately into heavy traffic?

    I park so that I can put the key in position II and coast out to the first stop sign, so I'm getting the first 2+ blocks free of gas. Think of it as FASing lite, because you haven't started the engine at all yet, just coasted for the first 1/10 of the 2 mile trip.

    Other than that, I really can't do better than 25-30mpg on my 2-mile early morning drive, unless I warm up enough to go EV, which rarely happens outside of the summer.

    Once you get the Scan Gauge, you may be able to find an optimum TPS for the drive between stop signs that increases your MPGs. Mine has really helped me understand when to gently accelerate and when to hold a steady TPS to maximize FE. You should try different combinations to see which works best for you and you TCH.
  8. Harold

    Harold Well-Known Member

    Yes walk or ride a bike. Why put up with the hassle of the lights! H
  9. jhu

    jhu Well-Known Member

    I concur with the prior two posts. Is there something precluding you from biking?

    My commute is 2.8 miles. Even with the advanced hypermiling techniques, I couldn't get my route FE consistantly higher than 30 mpg (on an MkV Jetta; yeah I know, what am I doing in a hybrid forum???), so I borrowed my sister-in-law's bike. So not only do I use less gasoline, I look more cut than I used to (at least I'd like to think so).
  10. chief302

    chief302 Well-Known Member

  11. HiBreed

    HiBreed New Member

    First of all, I very much appreciate all the responses. Thank you!!! And sorry for the long delay in answering, crazy load at work and renovations at home - enough said :)

    Unfortunately, all the other routes lead through even more stop signs. Mine is the only one with an unbroken half-mile stretch, where I get some half-decent gas mileage.

    That is true :flag: The same commute on my Montero was murder in terms of fuel economy.

    The nearest traffic light is at least 6 stop signs away. I live on one of the peninsulas on the South Shore, all the way at the end.

    Already at 44 psi. Next stop - 50 :eek:

    Make that "first" oil change ;) Does it really make a difference? I'll try.

    Does my wife count? :D

    Finally cleaned it up a few days ago and ... the weather got warm again :cool:
    I am going to order a grille block, aptly named "le Bra" :)

    I won't be able to stop worrying about my wife (or even myself) forgetting to unplug the heater and backing out of the garage :eek:

    I wish I had the extra time going to work! I already sleep 6 hours at most and just can't sacrifice another half an hour. I do enjoy walking to my house in the evening, just can't bear to do it in the morning. Besides, I would have to get my wife to walk as well :Banane35:

    I have to explore that possibility. Although, my street is pretty level, so I don't think I can get far.

    Looking forward to that!

    Lack of secure bike parking at the station and icy wind in the winter :(
  12. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk 2010 Prius (CAN Touring) Staff Member

    "Lack of secure bike parking at the station and icy wind in the winter"

    I can relate to that. My son-in-law had a cheap bike disappear from a train station, kinda depressing...

    Hmm, maybe not all-or-nothing, regarding walking? Walk in the nice weather? Of course, that's when mileage improves, LOL.

    Walking does take a little longer, but not that much, and it's good for you, and the environment.

    Is your car garage kept? Consider what your short trips are doing for your car. It's not fully warming up, which has mechanical consequences. Then it's sitting in the elements all day. In our neck-of-the-woods, park-and-ride lots are often referred to as "super markets", not for nice reasons. I'd suspect things are similar in your locale. How about your insurance rates? Are they higher because you're commuting?

    In another thread here someone was asking how to improve their winter mileage. One responder said he just tries to drive less in winter. In other words, if there's a scenario that's killing your mileage, could you just avoid it, and likely reap a benefit or two?
  13. flatty

    flatty Member

    25mpg is pretty good for a very short trip. (Walking isn't permitted in suburban NY.)

    You might need to find a longer, more efficient route. It may take longer and use a bit more fuel, but you'll be able to get back to the normal 40mpg consumption.
  14. HiBreed

    HiBreed New Member

    Where did my FE go???


    The winter has finally arrived on Long Island, with temperatures below freezing at night and not much higher during the day, and my FE fell right through the floor (just like the stock market :(). Even when I exercise all the techniques I've learned here, I am now getting paltry 10mpg :eek: on my 2-mile commute to the train station. Those stop signs are really taking the toll when the engine is cold, even though the car is kept in a garage.

    On longer trips I still consistently get above 40mpg (44.6 average on the past three 30-mile trips).

    Engine block heater is looking more attractive by the day...
  15. Taliesin

    Taliesin Well-Known Member

    Somethings to consider with the fear of forgetting the plug-in for the engine heater...

    Drape the cord over the driver's outside mirror, the driver's door, or over the windshield.

    You might go "oops, almost forgot that" a few times, but not for long. And you won't completely forget it at all with it in your way.
  16. rdprice64

    rdprice64 Still Learning

    Plus, it will help to use a timer. Start the timer when you are 2-3 hours from leaving (that's 2am for me). That way you will use the least amount of electricity to get the maximum benefit.

    Also, if you get a brightly colored extension cord, it will be easier to see and easier to remember to unplug it on your way to the car.
  17. ksstathead

    ksstathead Moderator

    See MSantos' recent article on winter driving.

    Get the grill blocked for the winter, leave partial block in warmer temps.

    Minimize climate control usage (dress warm).

    My truck rated 17/20 (old) EPA can get 25 mpg starting warm on my 1.5 mile commute, 17 to 20 mpg 'cold' start in August afternoon, and barely 10 mpg cold start at 0F ambient.

    I try to keep in the garage at night, plan to block the grill, tires at sidewall +5 psi.

    Winter stinks. Short trips stink. If you find a cure for either, let me know.

    Good luck.
  18. HiBreed

    HiBreed New Member

    Yes, a solution is actually beginning to take shape: I have a dual outlet overhead that I installed for the garage door opener, and if I find a brightly-colored retractable cord, I can plug a heater in through a timer and unplug it just before getting in the car. Maybe I can even find a cord with safety release that will automatically disengage when pulled. The only question is where to make the connection between the extension cord and the main heater cord, so that the latter can be safely left in place while driving.
  19. Elixer

    Elixer Well-Known Member

    If your commute is only 2 miles seriously look at using a bike. Biking 2 miles is not very hard - even if you're not in the best of shape. You could also look at EV bikes. You can mod a bike to be electric for about $500.
  20. MaxxMPG

    MaxxMPG Hasta Lavista AAA-Vee Von't Be Bach

    Like the OP, I am a Long Islander (at least during the work week). I can say that a bicycle is definitely a disasterous idea. It is actually safer to cycle in Manhattan than it is to cycle in Nassau county, 20 miles to the east. If you survive the ride to the train station, you can bet a week's salary the bicycle won't be there when you get off the train that night. For the $8000-$10000 a year you pay in property taxes, you don't get too many street sweepers around, and flat tires are a guarantee as you are forced to ride over broken bottles, nails/screws/metal scraps, pieces of plastic/glass/metal swept to the gutter after traffic collisions, and pavement holes and grooves that can swallow your shoe.

    For short trips of 2 miles or less, I will walk instead of drive if time is not an issue. For the OP, scheduling limitations prevent this idea. The area here simply is not safe for any sort of bicycle transportation. The death rate is ridiculous and I have seen three deaths in the last year or so (mangled bicycle, body under the sheet, etc). The crime rate is high enough to make buying new bicycles (or replacement parts if the thief can't get the whole thing but can instead swipe parts) a very expensive reality. The only time I go out on my bicycle is if I am going somewhere where I don't have to leave it out in public, and only if I can go at a time of light traffic where I have a chance of survival among the cell-chatting Denali/Navigator drivers.

    It's a nice place to live, but it's not a place where you'd want to depend on bicycles for transportation.

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