Getting to 'yes' | November 16, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - November 16, 2012

Getting to 'yes'

Stanford employees navigate ins and outs of alternative commutes, with programs easing the way

by Jocelyn Dong

There's a phrase that Brodie Hamilton uses to describe people's reluctance to switch from commuting by car to taking an alternate form of transportation: "Yes, but ..."

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Posted by Richard Dean
a resident of University South
on Dec 17, 2012 at 3:53 pm

I wonder if we will ever overcome some of the arguments above (need a car for emergencies, meetings, etc.).
The rise of America and the freedom to roam across its landscape, which came with the advent of the automobile, are inseparable. While adopting public transportation is effective and efficient, the loss of freedom that comes with taking a bus, lightrail, or subway is something to lament. The same loss in freedom has been happening with cars themselves (gridlock), so it seems like there is no alternative. Having just let go of my Prius for a fuel efficient motorcycle, I believe that smaller, more nimble, electric or motorized scooters and motorcycles might offer the best of both worlds:

They offer the freedom the car once provided (the ability to roam free was the early automobile's raison d'etre), reduce congestion, require less material to build, are more fuel efficient (especially in electric motorcycles, scooters), require substantially less lithium for batteries in electric models (which means the limited lithium resource could be spread across more vehicles and not limited to a small batch of all-electric 'eco-bling' vehicles like the Prius plug-in, Volt, Tesla, Fisker, etc.). Scooters/motorcyles also create opportunities to meet and greet strangers along the way, perhaps even more so than on the subway. Public transit can be used in cases when passengers and/or luggage is an issue.

Any thoughts?

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 17, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Good for these commuters and thank you for writing their story.

As far as driving is more reliable, I would suggest last Friday evening as an example of how driving is often unreliable. All n/b routes in Palo Alto from 101, Middlefield, Alma, El Camino, Foothill and 280 were impacted because of an accident which occurred mid afternoon. Yes, trains can be delayed, but so can roads be clogged with traffic.

Also, it is good to hear about the incentives Stanford gives. But a lot of commuters to Palo Alto do not work for large companies with these types of incentives. There should be better incentives given by Caltrain too. Off peak discounts, free parking at stations after 3.00 pm, six month free passes for people who buy new condos near staions, etc. are all worthy examples of incentives that would help more people choose the train for their commute and once they get used to it would want to continue after the trial run.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.