I was talking with someone yesterday who asked me, “How can people drive less?” This is an excellent question. In suburbs like Los Altos and Los Altos Hills, we habitually get in a car to go places and can’t imagine how else to get around.
Public transit can be a challenge in getting around the suburbs. Busses and trains are less convenient than driving and they may not run frequently in the “burbs.” But sometimes the hurdle is just that we haven’t done it and aren’t familiar with how to use it. We have questions like “When does the bus or train come? How long will it take to get to my destination? How do I get a ticket?” It can be daunting.
So, during our 2-week Drive Less Challenge, take the opportunity to try out public transit. Make it a fun excursion. Try taking the light rail to the Tech Museum in San Jose. Make a Saturday visit to downtown San Francisco by driving to the Millbrae BART station (parking is only $2) and then picking up BART to downtown. Or try taking Caltrain to San Francisco and grabbing a bus to the Metreon or MOMA. (Caltrain youth fares for kids older than 4 and younger than 18 are only $3.25 each way from Mountain View to downtown San Francisco. If you’re 65 or older, you pay the same price as youth. Kids 4 and under ride free when accompanied by an adult.)
Kids love discovering a new way to get around. When my son was in junior high school, he and a friend decided they wanted to take the bus from Los Altos to Palo Alto one Saturday evening. So, they mapped out the trip and figured out the schedules using the VTA website. They felt so independent and had a great adventure. They found out that their bus fare was a real bargain – especially when they saw the bill for their dinner at California Pizza Kitchen!