Watts (chipotle) wrote,

Trainspotting--and Birthdays

As I start this, I’m riding the BART train into work. This is a way of commuting I’m still not used to. It’s not cheap—$4.75 each way on BART plus $1 a day for parking (unless I buy a monthly parking permit, which is actually more expensive per day at $30 a month). It’s also not fast—the drive from the apartment in Foster City to the Millbrae Transit Station, the southern end of the BART line on the Peninsula, is 15 to 20 minutes and the ride on BART is 35. On the flip side, though, it’s relatively easy: obviously, on BART there’s no driving involved. And parking fees alone at my building would cost more than I’m paying for this trip.

I’ll admit that of the several commuter rail services I’ve tried in the Bay Area, BART is the best only in terms of reach. Caltrain is considerably quieter, considerably more comfortable, and considerably faster—a limited or bullet train would make the trip into San Francisco from Millbrae in under 20 minutes. And it’s no more expensive. Unfortunately, the SF Caltrain station is a mile and a half from the office, more than I’m inclined to walk. Taking MUNI from the station to the office would add another $4 per day in the commute. In theory, I could actually catch Caltrain closer to the apartment at the cost of an extra buck a day in parking, but at that point it’s become a third again as expensive, and Caltrain—as jakebe frequently has reason to complain—has the Achilles’ heel of railroad crossings, providing high potential for traffic accidents and the occasional suicide. BART is at various points a subway or an elevated track, but roads never cross it.

On the other hand: more comfortable, quieter, and—yes, when not delayed—faster. Hmm.

Anyway, this gives me something to think about: I can make a go of this kind of commuting and be moderately comfortable with it. This opens up the potential for living longer distances away from my work if I choose to, provided that both my home and my workplace are sufficiently close to rail lines. I could move back down the peninsula and take Caltrain in, or go anywhere in the East Bay that’s still on BART—although that would open up the problem I’ve written about before of being farther away than I’d want from friends. Granted, driving an hour or so each way to get somewhere on a weekend is hardly new for me, but I’ve noticed that in practice getting together with friends much past a ten-mile radius of one’s house rarely happens. Maybe one can develop a mindset of frequently pinging friends to see if they’re busy, to even (gasp) plan ahead, but by now it’s a little unlikely I’m going to change my ways, I’m afraid.

But: speaking of that, and of lack of planning ahead, I’d like to see if I can get people together for my birthday—to go out to a group-friendly restaurant, perhaps Buca di Beppo in Palo Alto. (I’m open to other suggestions; my thought is that Palo Alto isn’t too far for people from the South Bay, but isn’t as far as, well, the South Bay for anyone coming from the north or east.) Technically, my birthday is tomorrow, and while I’d normally just suggest bumping things to the next weekend, the next weekend is, well, Halloween. So. I may see if I can get people together for the next next weekend, say, Saturday November 7.

Tags: urban

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