Letter: Sorry, but this Coastsider is not pumped for public transit


Posted by on Mon, October 27, 2008

Posted on the intranet at work is San Mateo County’s public transit bulletin urging county commuters to participate in this week’s "I’m Pumped For Transit." 

I like to be Green.  I’d like to reduce my carbon footprint, as well as lessen adding one more car to the road. 

I used the following websites to build a schedule for my public transit needs: SamTrans, CalTrain, and Google to search for the shuttle schedule, (because the link to the CalTrain employer shuttle via my employer’s intranet had changed and did not link).  I filled a sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 paper with penciled departure and arrival times for each station.

First I need to get from Half Moon Bay to Redwood City for work.  I find I could leave from Main Street on the 294 at either 6:17 a.m., reaching Hillsdale CalTrain Station by 6:43 a.m., or leave a bit later by taking the 8:07 a.m. eastbound bus, arriving at Hillsdale at 8:35.

To then reach Redwood City, the easiest and fastest route would be for me to take CalTrain from Hillsdale to Sequoia Station.  If I arrive via bus at Hillsdale at 6:43, then the next soutbound Sequoia Station stopping CalTrain picks up at 7:01 a.m.  I’d arrive at Sequoia Station by 7:12 a.m. and wait for the 7:33 shuttle out to the business park where I work, arriving at: 7:51. 

Almost 90 minutes of a commute.  (Via auto: commute time averages 30 to 40 mins.)

If instead, I took the 8:07 departing bus from Half Moon Bay, I would arrive at Hillsdale Caltrain at 8:35 a.m.  The 9:07 CalTrain would drop me at Sequoia Station at 9:12, I’d jump on the 9:23 shuttle and arrive at work by quarter to ten.

Total Cost to this one-way eastbound route:  $4.50

Returning home I’d start with the 5 p.m. shuttle, (if I arrived at work early, 7:51 a.m.) and reach Sequoia Station at 5:16 p.m.  I would have to wait until 5:57 p.m. for the next northbound CalTrain that would stop at Hillsdale.  (All earlier trains are express with no Hillsdale stops.)  Thinking positively, perhaps I’d do a little shopping at Sequoia Station to kill that 40 minutes of time, maybe I’d read a book. 

The 5:57 train arrives at Hillsdale at 6:08, however, I would just miss the westbound 294 to Half Moon Bay as it departed at 6:00 p.m.  Now I would need to wait until 7:32 p.m.(!) for the 294 to drop me off on Main Street at 8:05.

During that 80 minute wait, perhaps I’d finish the book I started at Sequoia Station, or choose to shop at the mall across the street?

My Commute if I participate in Public Transit Week:

6:17 a.m. departure from Half Moon Bay
8:05 p.m. return to Half Moon Bay
Total fares:  $9.00
Cost to fill my 10 gallon tank: $33.00 (current price)
MPG with my car:  32
Cost to drive my car to and from work: about $5.50

Overwhelmed by the planning to and from work, I haven’t even factored the schedule to include the three nights a week when I am in class at San Francisco State University.

I won’t be participating in "I’m Pumped For Transit" Week.  I’ll continue to drive my car.  Anyone want to carpool?

Anneliese Agren

We are currently driving our son to school every day in Menlo Park and picking him up, so I did a similar analysis.

He is in high school and loves taking the train or bus, but the schedules are so bad, it would take him three hours to get to school in the morning, and about 3 1/2 hours to get home.

We do pick him up at the Hillsdale train station in the afternoon, but there is no way he can take public transit in the morning without spending hours hanging around at the train station. Not the healthiest place for a teen. Luckily, this is his last year in high school.

The one good thing is that student fares are very low, so cost isn’t a problem—just time.

And yes, he is studying for the driver’s test!

Yes, even living on the other side of the hill it’s tough for kids to ride the bus to school unless they live within a bus line that feeds directly to their school. 

It seems that SamTrans is effective at getting one from Point A to Point B, but not to Point M.

And maybe that’s the mindset we all must take, is that public transit isn’t for the distance, just the short journey.

Shame though, as I said above, I left out the cost in both time and dollars it would take if I had to rely on SamTrans to help me get to and from SFSU.  I found that I wouldn’t get a bus after 6 p.m. from SFSU to Pacifica, and definitely not further south.  I didn’t even look into a BART (SFS) - SamTrans (Millbrae to San Mateo) - Half Moon Bay solution as that would drive me nuts.

Imagine though, here we complain how the system doesn’t fit into our schedule, and that it’s easier to drive ourselves in our fuel economy cars, but I can’t help consider how people without our options deal with the bus schedule?  How impossible those sparsely scheduled transit times make their lives?