Tech firms dominate list of top commuter-friendly employers – MarketWatch

Link to Tech firms dominate list of top commuter-friendly employers – MarketWatch

I commute 80 miles, round-trip, per day to work at the Microsoft Silicon Valley Campus

My commute normally starts with a 4.3 mile bike ride from my house, to the CalTrain station.  It takes me just over 20 minutes, one way, (on a an old mountain bike with commuter tires with a laptop) to bike to the station.

Other days, my amazing husband will drive me to the station.  The drive, one way, takes about 20 minutes, one way (except when there is traffic, in which case, it’s more like 30+ minutes).

MY BIKE ROUTE TO CALTRAIN
Click to view my bike route on Windows Live Local

I then board the CalTrain, with my bike.  The ride from San Franciso to Mountain View on a Baby Bullet Train is 40 minutes, one way.

CALTRAIN
Caltrain at  night

On the days that I ride my bike,  I take the Stevens Creek Trail to work.  The ride takes about 5 minutes. 

On the days where I do not ride my bike to the train I am able to take advantage of the free shuttle that Microsoft provides to employees to get between the train station and the campus.  This takes about 15 – 20 minutes.

SPENDING TIME COMMUTING – SAME AS DRIVING
In total, the time of a one way commute for me is:
(a) CalTrain via bike = 20 minutes + 40 minutes + 5 minutes = 1 hour, 5 minutes (total)
(b) CalTrain via car = 20 minutes + 40 minutes + 15 minutes = 1 hour, 15 minutes (total)

I estimate based on 65 minutes, each way, per day, over a 5-day week and a 46 week year (52 less vacation, sick, misc) that I commute 498 hours per year.

Windows Live Local estimates my drive distance and time to be 39 miles and 41 minutes.  I’m assuming that they calculate this based on the speed limits set for each road.  In reality, the driving time (between 7 am – 10 am) is 1 hour.  The only time I’ve ever made the drive in 41 minutes is when I drove home one night from work at midnight and I was driving 80 mph.


San Francisco to Mountain View

After doing this train commute for years now, I have concluded that taking the train is consistently the same or better than driving, in terms of time.  Given that the train is more consistently on time (except for rare delays due to suicides) CalTrain is not subject to the variability of heavy traffic when commuting by car.  Further I have the advantage of my sanity when I’ve finished my commute as I am not exhusted from driving or road rage.

SPENDING MONEY COMMUTING – HUGE SAVINGS
I am a direct consumer of Microsoft’s employee benefits for commuting.  In addition to the FREE shulttle between CalTrain station in Mountain View, CA, I am provided with $65.00 in commuter checks to buy my monthly CalTrain pass.  This has limited commuting cost to $75.00/month ($900/year).  When I was commuting by car, I was averaging around $400/month ($4800/year).  A HUGE SAVINGS!

IT TAKES HELP FROM ALL SIDES
Support from Microsoft in managing my commute to work has been instrumtal in my ability to continue to choose to commute nearly 80 miles a day for my job. 

And, in the spirit of social conciousness and commuting, I have to mention that the benefits I recieve from Microsoft for commuting alone could not support me enough to continue to want to make my commute. 

My commute could not be possible without:
(1) The additional benefit of Flexible Work policies available at Microsoft where I get to work from home on some days.  A policy that, frustratingly, is applied inconsistently across the company and embraced more by some managers than others.  
(2) Local advocacy efforts of SFBC (of which I am a proud member) to offer better commuting options for its citizens including a recommended bike route for those who wish to do the whole 39 miles by bike (which I plan to do).  Their most recent partnership is in helping CalTrain constructing bike depot at San Francisco station, which I am very much looking forward to utilizing.

COMMUTING CHOICES
I am proud to work for a company who is considered on of the top companies supporting the commute of it’s employess and it takes more than that to make public transportation work.  For individuals considering other commuting options and for companies considering better support for their employees need to work in their communities to ensure that other supports are in place to make the end-to-end commuting solution work well enough that it’s a choice that is viable compared to driving.

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