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.


reechard said...

Smack 'em twice -- once for me ;)

sfmike said...

Dear Reechard: Will do

Greg said...

in any other metro region, the connections between big cities and suburbs is much more integrated, and much easier.

As for here, once you leave SF, and go to the Peninsula, you either have to drive, or hope to be near a Caltrain. I'm fortunate in that I can either take a bus or walk from Millbrae to my family's place in Burlingame, but if they lived in another part of town, that'd be almost impossible!

sfmike said...

Dear Greg: Just like Southern California where I was raised, the entire ecosystem of the Peninsula is completely dependent on cars. The fact that they didn't vote to be part of the BART system decades ago was probably sheer racism, not wanting to have the dark people from the East Bay invading their world. Unfortunately, we're all paying for that stupid decision.