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 ..."

This story contains 2115 words.

If you are a paid subscriber, check to make sure you have logged in. Otherwise our system cannot recognize you as having full free access to our site.

If you are a paid print subscriber and haven't yet set up an online account, click here to get your online account activated.


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?

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.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields