Monday, April 29, 2013

Anything Goes Commute Challenge: company bus

My employer provides company bus service to and from work, with routes that run all over the SF Bay Area. Two of the bus routes have stop that are ~2 miles from my house, so I use this bus ride-bike ride combination to get home on days when I ride my bike to work in the morning.  I put my bike in the luggage compartment below the bus, relax on the bus on the ride into the city, then ride home from the bus stop.

I've heard co-workers comment that they don't take the buses or public transit because of the inconvenience of having fixed departure times from work, as compared to the flexibility of a solo car commute when one can leave at any time. But, I haven't found this to be a big issue, since the buses leave about every 45 minutes starting at about 4pm  through 7:30pm. If I miss one, well, I work for another 45 minutes and get the next one. And for me, the fixed schedule had a surprising up-side: getting me out of the office and home a bit earlier. You see, I tend to get a burst of energy late in the day and just stay and stay and stay at work. So, having a fixed deadline to get up and out of the office counteracts these workaholic tendencies. I really enjoy getting home on the early side (for me).

I feel fortunate to work for an employer that supports alternative transportation: the buses are just one of a suite of benefits that include van pools and other group commuting incentives, reimbursement for not driving in (I get $2 $6 (update) each way), a corporate bike fleet for trips around campus, shuttles to/from BART and CalTrain, showers/towels/bath products on campus, and secure bike parking.  An employee survey at our company showed that alternative transportation support is one of the favorite benefits offered by our company and I understand why.

The Stats:
Route: bus ride into the city, city streets bike ride home from the bus
Distance: ~8-13 miles on the bus (depending on route), 1.8-2.2 mile bike ride home (depending on route)
Elapsed time: 30 minutes on bus (depending on traffic), 12-15 minute ride home (depending on route)
Exercise time: 12-15 minutes
Reading/relaxing time: 30 minutes
Bliss factor: 5
Cost per trip: -$2 (0 cost to me for the bus - $2 company reimbursement for taking the shuttle and riding home from the shuttle stop*)
Enables: Exercise, fixed departure time from work on company bus (forces me to leave work rather than working into the night), relax or chat with co-workers on the bus ride home, lower environmental impact, little evening ride home invigorates me after a day spent indoors at a desk

Disadvantages: fixed departure time (but see upside, above), 4-5 block steep climb up to my house sucks if I am tired.

This post is part of my Anything Goes Commute Challenge series. Click here to read more posts in the series.

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