Thursday, July 15 The commute from Vallejo


7:05 a.m. VALLEJO L o n g line of riders waiting for a ride this morning, but the weather is warming and it looks like a lovely day in the offing. I bask in the early morning sun while I wait. It takes about 15 minutes and then I’m in the front seat of a big Lexus SUV. Friendly lady driver smiles and greets us as we get in. The rider in back immediately puts a dollar in the cup holder so once again I pull out my dollar. Traffic is heavy, but moving. There’s a huge gridlock on the east-bound side of the freeway. Roadwork near Hercules has reduced the 4 lanes of traffic on the other side of the freeway to 1 lane so it’s really jammed up. A number of speeding motorcycles zoom past us, darting in and out of the lanes at about 80 mph. The driver and I agree there are more motorcycles on the road and for the most part, they drive too fast. Lite rock on the radio and little talk in the car.

I read in the Vallejo Times-Herald (July 6, “Increase in Bay Area Bridge Tolls Could Help Public Transit”) some interesting statistics about subtle changes in the Vallejo commute, post-new tolls. There was a 10 to 15 percent increase in commuting Vallejo bus riders on July 1, the first day of the new tolls, and more commuters are riding the ferries, although the count is not yet in on that. Vallejo Public Works Directory Gary Leach is hopeful that this is a trend. “We’re hoping we will see more people taking the ferry because we’ve had a reduction in riders. Less people are commuting because of the economy.” Vallejo ferry riders have diminished by about 20 percent in recent years, as the fare has gone up and jobs have gone down.

The toll plaza is paralyzed this morning, especially in the cash lane. All waiting to pay their $6 toll. We are delighted to speed past and are in the city by 7:50.

3 Responses

  1. I had a very interesting discussion with the other passenger and driver this morning on our commute from Vallejo. Our driver was loath to ask for contributions to the toll, though he appreciated receiving them, and I offered immediately as I’ve been doing. For me,$1.25 is so much cheaper than the other commuting options that I have no problem kicking in to cover the new toll. The other rider agreed.

    • Hi Nathan – I’m going to talk more about who pays and how much in my blog today, but here’s a preview. The toll is $2.50. If 2 riders each pay $1.25, what does the driver pay? The gas, insurance, parking are a given and I was never expected to contribute to that before July 1, so I’m wondering why now is the driver not expected to share in the toll? I’d like to hear more about what you discussed in your ride. Thanks for the comment. CG

  2. From my perspective, if there weren’t drivers willing to provide their cars I would either have to drive myself (not an option because I hate driving in commute traffic and my wife and I only have one car); take the ferry ($10.30 one way with the 10-ride pass); or take the bus to El Cerrito and BART into the city ($9.80 one way). For me, $1.25 is a tremendous bargain compared to the alternatives. Yes, a driver has the same expenses whether or not he or she participates in the carpool, but I consider the contribution of driving more than sufficient to be worth a contribution of half of the toll on my part.

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