Saturday, April 16, 2011
Caltrain's Killer Commute
When offered a month-long job in Redwood City, the first feeling was relief at being able to pay some bills, followed by dread at the two-hour commute each way from San Francisco on a mixture of Muni, Caltrain, and a shuttle bus. I also wondered how long into the month before Caltrain killed someone on the tracks during rush hour, an unfortunately regular occurrence. The answer turned out to be five days, as a northbound train hit a rental car on the tracks in Palo Alto Friday at 5PM, killing an elderly tourist who was waiting in a traffic jam (click here).
The northbound train we were waiting for was supposed to arrive at 5:29 in San Carlos, but after an incomprehensible announcement over loudspeakers and unreadable signs indicating "ALL TRAINS DELAYED," a group of passengers decided to try San Mateo's SamTrans bus system instead. After twenty minutes, a bus came by with Daly City BART Station as its final destination, and we proceeded to inch our way north on Camino Real, finally arriving at Millbrae's BART station over an hour later.
This was followed by another long wait until a 10-car BART train arrived, which took us to the San Francisco airport, where we waited for another twenty minutes. Finally, the damned BART train started on its journey and I arrived home in Civic Center, having traveled about thirty miles in three-and-a-half hours, all the while cursing Silicon Valley and its pathetic excuse for a public transportation system. The next time a public official natters on about being "transit first" and an environmentalist committed to getting cars off the road, I may just smack them.