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  • Waiting for a ride

Wednesday June 23 The Cost of Commuting


A long cold wait for a ride this morning. I’m early at 6:30 a.m., hoping to get to the gym before work. It’s 55 windy, foggy degrees and about 40 of us shivering riders are lined up waiting for a ride. After 20 minutes I get a ride in a Chevrolet 4-door pickup truck. A handsome 30-something driver greets us. His stained hoody and workboots suggest he might be a housepainter or some kind of construction worker. He says the long line of riders has been typical for the last month. Once we’re underway, traffic is very light – definitely fewer cars out here. Looks like vacation time!

I ask him if he is a regular casual carpool driver and he says yes. “I don’t have the transponder yet, but I’m going to get one. It’s too bad about the toll, but it’s still a good deal at $2.50.”

I’ve been thinking that this might turn out to be a GOOD thing for the carpool lane. When you do the math, (for example if you’re coming from Vallejo and beyond and paying TWO bridge tolls each day) if you don’t drive in the carpool lane you’re going to pay $12 each day, $60 each week, roughly $240 each month, just for the tolls. If you pick up 2 or 3 riders and they contribute a dollar, you will pay nothing. And even if the riders don’t contribute, you’ll only be paying $5 a day, or about $100 a month, if you drive the carpool lane.

For the riders, it’s only going to be $2 bucks a day, if you carpool both ways. Much cheaper than the $24 round trip on the Vallejo Ferry (there is the option of a reduced monthly pass for $290). My BART fare from the Powell Street Station to North Concord is $5.45 one way ($10.90 a day), plus I have to drive back over the Benicia Bridge ($12 a day if I get a ride from my husband both morning and evening). That’s $22.90 a day for BART. So think about that and it might make you feel better when you’re looking at your transportation budget.

Today’s traffic stays light and fast and I have a quick connection to Muni once we’re in the city. I’m at the gym at 7:45 a.m.