Cecil Lee, a research biologist who works at the National Institutes of Health of Bethesda and lives in Harpers Ferry, used to live in Arlington but don't like it there.

"Couldn't stand it. The crowds, the traffic," he said.

His solution is one of the more roundabout ways Washington area commuters have found to get to work. At 6:45 in the morning, Lee's wife drives Lee and a colleague from Harpers Ferry 15 miles to Brunswick, Md., where he catches the Maryland commuter train.

They ride the train to the Kensington station. They have found a Metrobus that meanders uncertainly from the Kensington station to NIH, but they also have found its reliability and convenience less than desirable.

"The train would get there, we'd just miss the bus, then have to wait another 30 minutes. It got to be a pain," he said.

They found a somewhat old automobile that they leave near the Kensington station overnight and use as a shuttle between train and job. "We've had some problems leaving it over the weekend - you know, vandalism - but usually it works out pretty well," Lee said.

By the time he gets back to Brunswick where his wife picks him up, it's 6:30 p.m. By the time he gets home, it's been more than a 12-hour day.

"There's not a lot of social life," Lee said, "but it beats Arlington."