Last week, Washington Post staffers raced each other by car and public transportation along several typical commuter routes. Today's report compares commuting by car and by bus and subway from the Takoma Park neighborhood near Walter Reed Hospital in the District of Columbia to the Rosslyn high-rise office center in Arlington.

Start: 8:02 a.m. at Georgia Avenue and Piney Branch Road NW.

Finish: The Metro subway station elevator on North More Street in the middle of Rosslyn.

Bus and Subway: 31 minutes.

Car: 38 minutes. Bus and Subway

After waiting three minutes with two other people at the corner of Georgia Avenue and Piney Branch, I boarded the Y-9 bus, which, the driver said, was running 10 minutes late (fare: 50 cents).

Because the pre-Christmas rush-hour traffic was light and the bus was an express that would not stop again until downtown, it gained back that time and more as it sped south along 13th Street NW toward Logan Circle. Most of the passengers said little. Many simply stared off into space, some read the newspaper and one woman concentrated on a pocket-sized Bible.

After a few passengers left the bus at downtown stops beginning at Logan Circle, a dozen of us exited at McPherson Square (14th and I Streets NW), where a subway station on the Blue Line to Virginia is located.

Like any experienced commuter, I already had my Metro subway fare-card, so I did not have to buy one at the station. I inserted it into the machine at the gate (fare: 40 cents) and headed to the platform for Virginia-bound trains.

Across the platform, a train coming from Virginia disgorged a crowd of commuters heading for work in downtown offices on the streets above us, but there were relatively few of us waiting for the outbound train to Virginia. I had just sat down on one of the concrete benches when the blinking platform lights signaled the approach of our train.

It was not terribly crowded inside and most passengers left at the next stop, Farragut West, which serves the growing office district around Connecticut Avenue and K Street NW. After that, the quiet of the subway ride was broken only by the announcements of coming stops and the off-key tone that signals the closing of the doors.

After the rapid ride under the Potomac River, my train arrived at the Rosslyn station at 8:30. Three more minutes and two escalator rides (the one from the station to the street is the longest in the Metro system and one of the longest in the world), and I was on North Moore Street.