Tuesday, June 8 THREE WEEKS TO TOLL DAY


Not a rider in sight this morning. Just me and about 15 cars lined up and waiting. I have the front seat of a lovely Lincoln Continental Sedan. An older african-american fellow is driving. We exchange comments with the lady in the back seat about the weather (it’s colder again) and he rolls up the windows as we start off. The car smells smoky and I suspect he was airing it out while he waited for riders. He coughs like a serious smoker – deep and lung rattling. I’m sure it will be difficult for him to have to spend the next hour or so without his smokes.

It’s overcast and the sky seems darker as we pass Berkeley. San Francisco is caught in a stray beam of hazy sunlight across the bay and glows softly. We zoom past the toll gates. I wonder how this will look in a few weeks when our carpool lane is also a toll lane. Of course it will be a Fast Track lane, so carpool drivers won’t be actually stopping to pay a cash toll, but I think it will change the dynamics somewhat. Traffic is nearly stopped and we crawl across the bridge. The radio says a truck lost a load of wood and the 2 right lanes up ahead are blocked. Apparently the wood has been removed, because we’re back up to speed in a few minutes.

About a month ago a representative from the 511 Rideshare (aka Bay Area Toll Authority) was passing out questionnaires at the carpool line.The questionnaire asked questions like “how long have you been commuting by casual carpool?”, “why do you use the casual carpool?”, “if you drove, would you pick up passengers?”, etc. I sensed there was a tone here that was anti-casual carpooling, and pro-511 Ridesharing. Some of the questions are worded like “Unlike casual carpooling, I would know before I left my house in the morning who I would be riding with” (if using 511 Ridesharing). One of the real pluses about Casual Carpooling, for me, anyway, is the spontaneity of it. That is actually why I began using it. I used to ride the Vallejo Baylink Ferry and would race like a +maniac to make the boat in the morning, having to arrive there about 20 minutes before the boat actually left, in order to assure I’d get a seat. With the carpool, I can arrive anytime before 9 AM and get a ride that is twice as quick as the ferry, and much more convenient than driving and parking to BART.

How about you? Did you get a questionnaire? Did you mail it in? Are you planning to switch from Casual Carpool to another way of commuting?

One Response

  1. Hi Commuter Gal
    Too bad more people don’t reply to your very good questions.
    I’d like to have a conversation off-line about strategies for ensuring the survival of casual carpooling after 1 July. Would you email me? paulminett@tripconvergence.co.nz.
    An interesting point about the MTC survey. Did it allow you to give your answer, or could they end up arguing that everyone wants a different system?

    Keep up the good work!

    Paul

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