Bad commute days

Being somewhat ecologically conscious, I take pride in riding the train to work. Stress free commuting, predictable schedules, and for the most part a hassle free experience.

Bonus is that my employer sponsors a transit pass for my, a tax break for them.

Most of the time it is fine. Sometimes, there are annoyances, like the passengers who reek (either poor personal hygiene, or (far worse) those who smell of being heavy marijuana smokers), or rude passengers, but mostly it is just a joy to settle into a seat, open my kindle, and read while listening to whatever strikes my fancy.

Then the occasional curve-ball is thrown at you. Yesterday was one of these.

I left the office late, I had a couple of documents to finish up, and get submitted, and knowing that I would likely not get to them at home, I just bore down and finished them. About a quarter past five, I walked over to the station in front of the office, and grabbed the train.

About 5 stops into my trip, the engineer comes on and says that the last stop for the trip will be Bonaventura, and that we would have to get out and catch a bus bridge to get around an accident.


We hit Bonaventura, we got out, and to where they said the bus bridge would be. One of the gathering crowd actually called the VTA support line. Apparently there was no bus bridge in operation (liars), so a goodly fraction of us fellow train riders walked to the next station, Component. Alas, the wreck appears to be an auto and a light rail train decided to tangle it up at First street and Trimble.

Caught the next train, and what is normally an hour trip took almost 2 hours by the time I walked across the threshold of the door.

Stupid drivers who play chicken with trains. Dumb.

If I would have left 15 minutes earlier, I would have had no issue.

I swear I am cursed.

Train kept a Rolling

Having rejoined the working world, I am now lucky enough to be working for a company that it makes total sense to take the VTA Lightrail in to the office. I live about 1.1 miles from the Cottle station, a 20 minute walk from home. Then 50 minutes to get to Tasman station, and a 5 minute walk to the office.

Since driving the 18 miles takes between 40 minutes and an hour, and the train gives me a low stress travel versus the stress of stop and go traffic.

Over the last 7 weeks, I have learnt the following.

  1. The trains have wifi. Cool, and it is free. But it appears to be a single cellular connection. Ok to surf Facebook, but it is too inconsistent for logging into VPN. That’s OK, I prefer the solitude and reading my Kindle to working.
  2. The first five and a half weeks, not once was there a fare enforcement officer. I was beginning to think that it would be low risk to not swipe the Clipper Card and pay the fine if caught. Then in the last week and a half, there have been 5 verifications.
  3. Apparently, if you want to score some pot, near the Santa Clara stop is the place to do it. It seems like every day I see some dealing going on on the sidewalk or in that parking lot.
  4. It is (in general) worth timing my commute to catch the limited express. The express saves 6 stops, and about 10 minutes.
  5. $2.00 a trip is a pretty good deal. I figure that if I would drive, 34-35 miles round trip, at 21mpg and $3 a gallon (Stewie needs premium), that is about the same cost to drive and ride the train.
  6. Some smugness, to know that I am doing even a little bit to reduce my carbon footprint. Of course, I wipe that out by driving a sports car for fun.

Yep, it is a pretty good deal.

An aside: Taking the train is convincing me that one day I need to bum around downtown San José and take pictures. St. James park, the post office, SJSU, victorian homes, and others are begging to be captured.

Relocation: The Commute

Recap: I have been relocated to the San Jose area after living in Arizona for 11+ years. I grew up here, so I am not too shocked at what we have come back to. Today I will offer my observations of the commute, and the drivers, particularly how they have changed in the last 11 years.

When we left California in 2003, we lived in a small condo in South San Jose, near 101 and Bernal Road. I was fortunate that I worked at Cisco then, and I was able to ride the Light Rail end to end. About 45 minutes, restful, and it was paid for by Cisco.

Alas, I am not so lucky this time. We are not far from where we used to live, but I work in a pretty unaccessible spot by transit (well, not inaccessible, but it requires at least two bus legs and a lengthy light rail trip). Shortest travel time is 1:56, the most convenient connections is 2:17 in transit. And my employer doesn’t pick up the monthly pass.


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