Friday, October 19, 2007

Is BART worthwhile for short distance commuters?

My husband usually drives to work. He works less than 9 miles away and depending on the traffic, his drive can range from a short 12 to a miserable 60 minutes each way. With one of our cars in the repair shop, he needed to take BART home yesterday. Even though he needed to take a shuttle to MacArthur, he still found the BART commute pleasantly short and easy compared to the usual slow drive on 24 East.

But will he continue to take BART? Probably not. Why not? I'll have to ask him for detailed reasons but I think it's because with the extra shuttle connection, it gives you little flexibility on when you can arrive and leave. It is not fun to be chasing a shuttle, or chasing a train when your shuttle is behind schedule. Additionally, you do have more personal freedom while in your car and for some, that time is when you decompress from all the stresses of work before you arrive home.

For any of you who work close by your home, would you take BART? This is a tough one. I live in Lamorinda, so if I worked in Emeryville or Walnut Creek, I may drive more than I take BART honestly. But anywhere else, probably not.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

I live in Moraga and work in San Ramon. Distance-wise it's only 8 or 10 miles away but it can take up to an hour driving each way. 680 is just too congested. I take BART on heavy days and drive on Fridays or holidays.

ConcordCommuter said...

This brings to mind an interesting consideration I have talked to many people about.

Wouldn't it be great if there was a light-rail corridor between roughly Walnut Creek BART and Pleasanton BART? With stops in Danville, and Bishop Ranch? I think that it would take a lot of people off of 680. When I worked at Bishop Ranch, the commute via 680 was never pleasant, just varying degrees of awful. My wife currently commutes every day via car to Pleasanton, and it takes her anywhere from 30 - 90 minutes. Surely that is less reliable than a train which is on-time 90% of the time and has a specific timetable. Just a thought...

I think that to commute by train, it really has to be faster and easier driving and finding parking. Once you need to connect via a shuttle or have to walk more than a block or two, most people fail to see the convenience.

Since I work in the city, where parking is always horrible, and traffic is a daily given, I don't mind my BART/MUNI commute. It helps that I can take the N-Judah and it drops me off outside the door of my employer.

Anonymous said...

I live in Alameda and work in SF FiDi. When I take BART I get on at Lake Merritt and disembark at Embarcedero. Two stops only. I usually take the ferry or bus. The ferry is a 20 minute ride, the bus anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes.

I would never drive in if I could help it. Parking's too expensive and the bay bridge is a hassle. Even when my employer is willing to comp parking I still resist driving in.

The bus/ferry/BART is much more relaxing than dealing with traffic myself.

Anonymous said...

What is the distance post-BART from station to work that requires a shuttle bus ride? Anything less than a mile is totally walkable, and depending on how long you have to wait for the shuttle, the distance, traffic, and how fast you walk, you might even be able to beat the shuttle...I know I do with my work shuttle - I only take it in foul whether, otherwise, I walk, beats standing around waiting for a shuttle when I can get to work in the same amount of time.

Anonymous said...

Anyone looking at a BART system map can see the obvious missing route is from Concord down to San Jose along the 680 corridor - it's an absolute no brainer. Done correctly this route would be a huge money maker, as opposed to the SFO / Milbrae money loser connection, and alleviate much of the congestion along this corridor. Of course, with the expensive housing along this corridor, and the NIMBY crowd, even if it were proposed and BART had the money, I doubt it would happen. The NIMBY's would lobby against it and more than likely win...which is unfortunate.

bartmusings said...

May I retract my blanket statement about driving over BART if I worked in Emeryville or Walnut Creek? Maybe I'll drive to WC since it'll take less than 10 minutes but I actually might consider BART to Emeryville. A 10 minute ride to MacArthur, followed by a shuttle is much better than a long, strenuous drive on 24E after 5pm. As for the environment, I'd be driving in a Prius, is that a compromise?

bartmusings said...

Regarding Anon #3's post-BART distance question. For me, I rely on shuttle because my office is 7 blocks from the CC station and it's not the best of area, if you know what I mean. I'm so used to living by the shuttle schedule now since it's been a few years. It's not that bad-- if BART is late, I miss the shuttle but I use that extra time to go to Starbucks and get perked up for the day :)

I don't think I'll walk that 7 blocks however....I have had enough confrontations with the homeless and have been verbally "assaulted" many times already.

Anonymous said...

Cost is a big issue for me. $4 bridge toll, $10 parking fee, $4-6 in gas, and it's nearly $20 a day to get to work and back. Contrast that to the $6.20 a day for BART, which my employer subsidizes. My out-of-pocket is around $300 a year, vs $3,000 (yes, thousand) to drive. Not everyone gets the subsidy, but $14 a day is still a huge savings.


I bike to BART, BART from Fruitvale to Civic Center, and walk to work. (I have a shuttle, but I prefer the walk, as I often miss the shuttle and can arrive on foot at about the same time as waiting for the next one.) It takes me an hour each direction, which I don't love; but I justify it because half of that time is spent getting exercise that I would otherwise not get.

Anonymous said...

yes the subway works FINE for short trips--like Ashby to Berkeley with a short walk at each end to access the Cal campus.
Of course a link from WC to Dublin would be useful in rush hour, other times of day I'm not so sure. As to "money maker" dream on; passenger transportation is NOT a profit making venture without Enron accounting practices.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of how long your commute might be, the decision as to whether to take BART or drive depends on a number of factors:

1. Distance to your place of work from a BART station. This is a no-brainer. If you don't work close to a BART station, this certainly makes taking BART MUCH slower and more time-consuming.

2. Parking. Specifically, the ease of finding parking at/near work, whether you can park for free at work, and whether parking is free and/or easy to find at the closest BART station.

3. Bridge toll. Obviously, paying a $4 bridge toll each day tips the balance toward BART.

4. Traffic. Again, heavy traffic tips the balance toward BART.

5. Fuel economy. Driving might be a cheaper choice if you drive an economical car. Especially if you can park for free at work and don't have to pay bridge toll.

6. Work hours. This can definitely make a difference. If you work nights, BART might not be feasible since you couldn't catch a train home at 2:00AM. Safety might also be an issue.

murphstahoe said...

if your husband is going Lamorinda to Macarthur, he can probably remove the shuttle problem with a Razor Scooter!

I'd recommend a bike but I don't suspect that Lamorinda to Macarthur would be very good with a bike during rush hour on BART. You speak of issues with backpacks - if so even a foldable bike would be a bit of a nuisance. But a Razor scooter would be almost unnoticed by your fellow passengers.

Or he could go old school and get a skateboard :)

As for Concord to San Jose, you can take BART to the Oakland Col. station and switch to Amtrak already. For far less than a BART extension this route could be made substantially quicker than it currently is. The people I know that work in SJ and live in Berkely actually take BART to SF and then the Caltrain Bullet to SJ.

Anonymous said...

> 8 or 10 miles away
> but it can take up to an hour

Get a bike.

Typical bike speed is 15 miles per hour.

That's 30 minutes TOPS!!

Anonymous said...

> Wouldn't it be great
> if there was a light-rail corridor
> between roughly Walnut Creek BART and Pleasanton BART

Not this life time.

The NIMBY whiners won't permit a TRAIN!! (For Bush-the-Fsking-God-Of-All-Human-Kind, a TRAIN!!) anywhere near their back yard.

And who's paying for it? We're so busy subsidizing cars we've no fundage for (cover the kiddees ears) TRAINS!!!

Like the russkie commies said, "cars live best in america, while people live in horrid housing and are plundered, exploited and killed by the wealthy capitalists."

Same, same.

Anonymous said...

> My wife currently commutes every day via car to Pleasanton, [from san ramon? ]
> and it takes her anywhere from 30 - 90 minutes.

Fool.

It's quicker to walk, much less bike via iron horse trail.

But we're not addicted to cars, fat, lazy and stupid americans, are we?

Anonymous said...

> I think that to commute by train,
> it really has to be faster and easier driving and finding parking.

The hell it does.

Get over your infatuation with the god-given right to be idiotically wedded to a car.

Your weenie won't fall off if you WALK the 3 blocks to the store for milk, will it?

Anonymous said...

> my employer is willing to comp parking

Another subsidy.

Caltrans insists we subsidze cars, but has shark-fits when the same is proposed for mass transit!

HORROR, HORROR!! SHOCK, SHOCK!!!

CARTRans can NOT support taking prescious concrete off the roads, NO! NO! NO!

Sacremento and washington do too. $15000 price per year for parking stalls, but no taxes on it.

God loves cars!

Keep paying the terrorists (aka: saudis, kuwaitis, libians, venezualians, etc) to send oil.

Keep bankrupting the USA with rediculous trade imbalances.

Good thinking!

Asked your kids what they think about getting screwed for taxes and security when their folks wouldn't pay-as-they-go?

Anonymous said...

> Anything less than a mile is totally walkable,

Not in fat, lazy, diabetic america.

On a bike, it's MAYBE AS LONG as 15 minutes. Coasting. If you turn the pedals, maybe it's 5 minutes, maybe 10.

The average american walks less than 300 yards a day. (So says the CDC.)

Yet we're dying of old-people's diseases, but we're only 40 or 50 years old.

Anonymous said...

> A 10 minute ride to MacArthur,
> followed by a shuttle
> is much better than a long,
> strenuous drive on 24E after 5pm

And a 20 minute bike ride is more healthy, more economical, more sustainably sound and far more stress relieving than either option.

And quicker.

And more fun.

Would this be a good time to inquire if you'd like to buy my very slilghtly used Hummer?

Anonymous said...

> my office is 7 blocks
> from the CC station
> and it's not the best of area,

Turn's out bad guys can't run 15 miles per hour.

I can easily pedal that fast, without even working up a sweat.

And if they're in front of you, it's great fun to play chicken with the chicken-fskers.

Head down, pedal like hell STRAIGHT TOWARDS the so-called "bad-ass."

You weigh maybe 150 or 250 pounds.

You're doing 15 or 20 miles per hour.

The handlebars hit 'em first in the face.

And you're aiming DIRECTLY AT 'EM, staring 'em STRAIGHT IN THE EYE, and they KNOW you're aiming to ruin their day.

Wanna' guess who chickens out first?

> [...]

> I have had enough confrontations
> with the homeless
> and have been
> verbally "assaulted"
> many times already.

Are you a guy or gal?

If a guy, throw it back at 'em. Most are total chicken-fskers.

If you're a gal, try a bottle of ammonia. (Make sure you're wearing your riding goggles.)

One good shot of ordinary ammonia in the eyes stops 'em dead in their tracks -- can't see. Ever again.

(Works good for doggies, too.)