Whenever we drive to Los Angeles, I prepare myself for horrid traffic no matter what time of day. Apparently, I should be bracing myself for the same experience whenever I get in my car here in the Bay Area. A recent report ranks the San Francisco-Oakland area right alongside L.A. for traffic delays, second only to Washington, D.C.
- Bay Area commuters waste 61 hours per year sitting in their cars because of congestion.
- The San Francisco-Oakland area has 1.9 million commuters and 2.1 million drivers during peak traveling times.
- Those drivers travel 52 million miles a day on freeways and 30 million miles a day on surface streets.
- Those drivers use an excess of 64 million gallons of fuel a year.
For the last five years, I’ve nearly exclusively worked from home for one of the tech giants in Silicon Valley. I commute up 101 from my tiny little community in San Jose to Redwood Shores only once or twice a month. A drive that would take about 45 minutes without traffic takes over 90 minutes during rush hour. It’s so bad that I often leave super early and work super late to offset the unproductive waste of time that is a commute.
So what’s the solution?
Changing the 8-5 work-day? That would be hard without other aspects of our life changing too. My son’s school doesn’t start until 9am; making it virtually impossible for my spouse to ever help with morning drop-off.
Better public transportation? My spouse’s company gives every employee an annual pass for our county’s public transportation. Too bad it takes him triple the amount of time to get there during rush hour than it would for him to drive. And the stops aren’t convenient. It may make him more relaxed than driving, but he loses even more precious family time.
More telecommuting? I love getting to work from home. But it’s not possible for every career or company. You have to make sure that you have the right infrastructure at home to make it work. I pay extra for a higher speed internet and a land-line for conference calls. It’s certainly cheaper than the wasted fuel during a commute.
I don’t have any answers. But I sure am I glad that my “commute” to work only involves walking to my computer and turning it on.