It was the friday before Father’s Day weekend, and we faced a long, hot drive from New York to D.C., fighting beach-bound traffic and swarms of commuters.
But we had a secret weapon: satellite-beamed, continually
updated traffic–the latest from sat-radio pioneers XM and Sirius. Each covers more than a dozen cities, and both are comprehensively reported: XM uses independent firm Traffic Pulse; Sirius relies on local traffic feeds.
XM proved the most consistently useful, with average speeds on key corridors and smart prioritization: major trouble spots first, details later. Sirius bundles cities in pairs, so while in Baltimore
we had to wait through the D.C. report each rotation.
Sirius also kept flubbing
thelocal shorthand and dialect:
Highlandtown is pronounced “Hollantown,” and don’t waste my time calling it the Jones Falls Expressway–“JFX” will do.
On our trip back home, XM earned our love, warning of major delays near the Maryland-Delaware line. We hopped off I-95 and enjoyed a brisk country drive through Pennsylvania instead, smugly checking in on Baltimore traffic every now and then to make sure those poor FM-radio slobs were still roasting on the freeway.