No More Awful, Awful Commute

Your faithful Montclair blogger normally writes about everything and everyone else, but today she’s rejoicing in the fact that she won’t be “car camping” anymore.  Based on three years of commutes between Montclair and Palo Alto, that added up to roughly 750 round trips and at least 2,250 hours behind the wheel!

Highway 13

Whenever I would mention my doubly-awful commute to neighbors or friends, the reaction was almost physical and quite consistent.  I was barraged with these questions about the daily journey:

  • When do you drive? How long does it take? – Either early or late, which means before 7:30 am or after 9:00 am to Palo Alto; and after 6:00 pm back to Montclair.  It typically takes under 1.5 hours each way, but add another half-hour for accidents.

  • Are you crazy?  I would never do that. – Remember that dotcom people do insane things.  It’s worth driving because living in Montclair makes me remain sane.  Plus the work is interesting to me.  ‘Nuff said.

We know that Montclair is filled with commuters who head to all points, every weekday morning.  According to old U.S. Census data, some 25% of 94611 residents spend at least 45 minutes commuting daily and 62% of us drive alone to work.

Well, I’m not saying you should ever follow my pitiful example and work in Palo Alto – but I can confess all this now because my super-sized carbon footprints have gone away.

Casual Carpool From Montclair?

In Oakland, no one has to hitch a ride and hope they will end up in San Francisco.  Unlike typical hitchhiking, casual carpools are an organized effort where both riders and drivers join forces for the daily commute across the Bay.  This is part of our local fabric, with carpools operating over the past 30 years.

Old Fashioned Hiktchiker

These casual carpools are almost a misnomer, since they depend on reliable locations and trustworthy volunteers.  Passengers know they can find a ride during rush hours, while drivers expect to speed through the carpool lanes over the Bay Bridge.

Montclarions have to leave the village to join these carpools, and generally head to Park Blvd.  According to RideNow, there are currently nine locations in Oakland and one in Piedmont.  There’s one next to the Orinda BART too.

One regular commuter to the city, Patricia Carberry-Harris, thinks it’s about time to establish a casual carpool in the Village.  She typically takes the V express bus from LaSalle every morning, and is looking for other options:

I am wondering if there might be interest in starting a casual carpool location in front of the old firehouse on Moraga near the tennis courts.  The location looks ideal – there is enough room for several cars to pull into, and once you have your passengers, you can head right down to 13 and hop on 24.

Having a casual carpool in that location would obviate the need to drive down Park Boulevard and pick up passengers at one of the two Park locations, and then keep going to 580.  If anyone has suggestions about another location that might work better, please feel free to chime in.

Patricia’s suggestion sounds very plausible.  There should be enough demand for a small carpool spot here, and I’m betting that Montclarions would leave a few more cars parked at home.  Feel free to comment here,  or reach Patricia directly at

More info:   Check out the casual carpool spots on this google map.  Learn more at RideNow about carpool etiquette.  Visit the ride discussion board if you have more questions.  Read about bridge rules at the Bay Area Toll Authority.