Take the Bus

I live in San Jose and have been commuting via public transit to the Santa Clara campus ever since it it opened. The SCA campus is about 1/2 mile from VTA Light Rail. It's about 1.5 miles from the Santa Clara Caltrain station. Sun has a free shuttle that goes between the Caltrain station and the Santa Clara campus (and lots of other places too). VTA has a bus stop literally right outside the Santa Clara campus. Sun offers its employees EcoPasses. For those that don't know, this is a one-year unlimited pass on all of VTA (a ~$600 value). All in all, Sun offers its employees a lot on this front, and particularly, the Santa Clara campus is ideally located for transit commuters.

So what's the problem?

I take light rail and the bus nearly every day. I take it at various hours: between 6 and 9 in the morning, and between 4 and 10 in the evening. In all the years I've been taking it to the Santa Clara campus, I've only ever seen one other employee taking the bus to work. If there were others, I'd have seen them (unless they work graveyard shift). I'm not sure of the exact numbers, but I believe there are about 4k employees at this campus. And it's not just Sun. The bus line I take to and from work skirts through various high-tech areas. On a bus that holds 50+ passengers, I've seen a maximum of 6 people on the bus at one time. Often, there are no other riders beside myself. Something is wrong.

I have a couple of guesses as to the cause. First, I think the valley's culture is broken in this regard. Taking the bus, or transit in general, is considered a sort of poor-mans way to get around; if you're taking transit, it's because you can't afford a car. Couple that with the fact that the entire culture of the valley is around making money and flaunting it. Now consider that a person's car is the single largest (external) indicator of their wealth.

While waiting for the bus, I've had colleagues stop and pittyingly offer me a ride. After all, I must be really hard up to be waiting on the street for a bus! I don't judge them for the attitude. It's quite nice of them to offer. However, it is a fairly clear indicator of how they feel about transit and those who use it.

The second issue is transit service & reliability. I won't go into details, but the first time you have a bus pass you up because they do not see you sitting at the stop at 9pm at night, and it's raining and your laptop is getting wet, you're going to think twice about using transit the next day. I really have no idea whether VTA is worse or better than other transit agencies. One thing for sure: low ridership compounds the problem. Low ridership means less frequent runs. If a bus runs every 10 minutes, it hardly matters if you miss it or if any particular bus running the route is late. If it runs every 1/2 hour or less, it's a problem. You miss connections, compounding the situation. Again, the first time you miss an important meeting because your bus didn't show, you're going to think twice about riding it the next day.

The places where I've seen transit work are where driving is such an utter nightmare that it drives the majority of people out of there cars. Places like San Francisco, New York, and other large cities. So, maybe the solution is that we have to let things like traffic and fuel costs spiral out of control before we see our culture change.
Comments:

The select items have object values. http://www.watchgy.com All is good. When I submit the form, I see "Validation Error: Value is not valid". My first reaction was that I didn't have any validation on the page, so how could a value be not valid? http://www.watchgy.com/tag-heuer-c-24.html
http://www.watchgy.com/rolex-submariner-c-8.html

Posted by Tag Heuer Watches on December 29, 2009 at 12:27 AM PST #

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