Thursday, July 11, 2013

Bus Journal: Welcome to the VTA

So, I moved up to the Bay Area last month. I've had to do quite a bit of driving, and while drivers up here aren't stupid in quite the same way that Southern California drivers are, they are equally stupid in their own, very special ways. So.... I've been trying out the public transportation here.

I'd taken the VTA (Valley Transit Authority, for Santa Clara County (home of Silicon Valley)) on previous visits. The buses are generally much nicer, with actual cushioning on the seats, as are the riders I've encountered. (As in generally nicer, not with generally more cushioning on their seats.) However, VTA suffers from the same problem as LA County's Metro: whether a bus can get you where you need to go is hit or miss. Partially because of the shape of the inhabited area of the valley, and partly for reasons that may harken back to a history before my time, coverage is not gridded or even or logical-looking.

I've already gotten my "Clipper Card," the reloadable card analogous to TAP in LA so you can load bus passes and fares and so forth for the various transit authorities in the area. (San Francisco ferries and BART, the northern Bay light rail, use it, too.) I got a VTA pass. The problem is that, not only is the card reader not in the same place as it is in LA (on the fare machine thing), it's not even consistently in the same other place on every bus. I'll figure it out eventually, maybe.

I also am getting a Caltrain (heavy commuter rail which runs up into San Francisco, analogous to Metrolink in LA) pass at no cost through work. It turns out that the apartment I seem to be moving to probably won't make the pass quite as useful for the commute, but it will still be useful for going up into San Francisco on the weekends and such. It looks like I'll be just over a mile from the Sunnyvale Caltrain station.

More on transit here as I figure it out myself...