Thursday, June 15, 2006

Commuting is for Other People


Laundry Bag, originally uploaded by camille94019.

I just spent a long time looking at the 511.org public transit website. My goal this summer is to couch surf with nice peeps over da' hill during the week and drive to work only when I have to. So that means biking (no problema when work is close) and taking [GASP!] the train the rest of the time.

It is a pretty useful website, but navigating the Caltrain schedules has proven to be rather tricky (they have multiple names for stations, you have to be pretty savvy to figure out specific stop schedules, and its even a bit challenging finding the addresses of the stations). What has proven to be nearly completely useless is the bike route finder. I thought it was going to be mapquest for bikes, but it turns out, all they do is show you a map of generally where you are going, and its up to you to figure out, from the color coded lines, which roads are bike friendly. The map I looked at didn't even have street names (I probably would have had to zoom). I ended up just using mapquest.

As compared to driving...

This is when I feel like a very Dumb American. I think of people in other places (where? I don't even know, the East Coast? Europe? Sherlock Holmes?) who depend entirely on train schedules. What a wacky exercise in code breaking! (you think I am crazy? Try making sense of this bad boy. Is it just me, or do they have you get off and get on at the same station with a 24 minute layover? Why would I want to do that? Why can't the train just go straight through? It does, but not till 1:33 PM). Do carless people in other places just make do with staying local? I am not even sure I have the vocabulary for that radical thought. Dammit! Getting around cheaply and quickly is our American Birthright! Right?

Commuting is now for rich people. Which is fine, I don't need to be burning up the earth's precious limited resources to make my buck, when I can be flipping burgers closer to home. Its ironic that it has required crazy gas bills to inspire me to change my habits. The really bizarre thing is that if I were to drive from Diridon Station to Mutton's Transit Station, it would only be 15 miles. At 3.40 a gallon, and at 29 mpg on the silver bullet, that still would only be less than 2 dollars in gas, significantly less than the 3.75 for the train fare. On the other hand, it would save me from sitting in traffic and it would give me a chance to bike (because I am not waiting for those terrible land buses and I need the exercise) around in dangerous intersections. Plus, the silver bullet is getting tired, and I don't know how many more miles she has left in her.

Packing it up

I will be nomad this summer. I'll be exploring hitherto unappreciated corners of Hose and Mutton (and spots in between). Maybe I'll even like them. I can pretend I am Bedouin! I am my own diaspora!

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