September 14th, 2005

Conrunner Kevin

Life in the Slow Lane

One of the reasons that it's taking me longer to get to my office in the morning, aside from it being five miles further away than it once was, is that I've been deliberately slowing down and driving 55 MPH (or a lot less, when traffic is heavy) instead of 65 or more. The one exception to this is a stretch of road approaching the Dumbarton Bridge. I have a toll transponder, and the transponder-only lanes are on the left, so unless I want to get run over, I need to drive at least 65 in the leftmost mixed-traffic lane.

Why am I enraging the other drivers who want to drive 80-plus? Money. With gas prices going up to (inflation-adjusted, even) all-time highs, I'm experimenting with slowing down a bit to see if it makes a difference. (Yes, I know that even at USD3/gallon, gasoline is absurdly cheap compared to Europe.) Initial results are promising: I got an 11% increase in fuel economy immediately. My minivan will never be a high-mileage vehicle, but an 11% savings seems good to me.

Still, much of the time I'm surrounded by people for whom even 65 is too slow and who pass me like maniacs. Every now and then, I see them crash into each other, too. (I'm not joking; I've seen several accidents happen close to or nearly right in front of me during my commute. Bay Area residents: if you ever hear KCBS credit "Kevin of the Phone Force" during a commute-hour traffic report affecting the Fremont-to-San Mateo-via-Dumbarton drive, it's probably me.)
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Conrunner Kevin

Why I Don't Take Transit

It's difficult to be around me for long before discovering that I'm a train fan and a transit advocate. I'm not fond of buses, but they are a necessary evil. So why do I drive to work every day instead of taking advantage of transit? Well, I've wanted to do so, but here is how I'd have to do it:

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Besides all of the alternatives I thought of, the TransitInfo Trip Planner came up with an even more-complex route of AC Transit Bus to Union City Bus to BART to AC Transit transbay bus to SamTrans local bus, taking 2:25 and costing $7.25.

The drive takes about an hour to go 25 miles door to door, and costs an estimated $10 or so one way. With those numbers, driving is the only sensible choice. It's frustrating, given that I'm a transit supporter, but it's hard to reach any other conclusion.

Of course I can move -- there's nothing forcing me to stay in Fremont, other than I hate moving.