Undergraduate Blog / Defining Your Babson

Transportation and Commuting in Silicon Valley

Redwood City is more or less halfway between San Jose and San Francisco. I had been using Google Maps pretty extensively for the past couple weeks. This was for two reasons. The first is that I needed to know how to get to work in San Jose. The second is that I needed to know how to get to San Francisco. It was no joke; I spent a ton of time deciphering public transportation like the Caltrain, VTA, Amtrak, and BART.  To anyone that is pondering a move to Silicon Valley the best advice I can give you is plan on buying a car. Or bringing a car.

I resolved to keep it real. Growing up in the geographic center of Toronto, a city of six million people, I came to the Valley well-versed in public transportation. My first two weeks consisted of this; Wake at 7:20am. Get a ride to the Caltrain station at 8:00am from family friend. The Caltrain is a commuter rail running North/South from San Francisco to San Jose. I catch the southbound train at 8:15. I take the Caltrain from Redwood City south to Santa Clara Station. I get off the train at about 8:40. At Santa Clara there is a free shuttle to the San Jose Airport (the same airport I flew into) and I take the free shuttle for 20 minutes past the airport, as the bus loops back to the bus station, to my office building. I would get to the building at 9:00am looking like a superstar because work ‘officially’ starts at 10. The way home is the same in reverse except no ride from the house to the Caltrain; I take an extremely infrequent bus. All in all, public transportation can be okay if you avoid buses and live within walking distance to the trains. Commuting in Silicon Valley means passing a heavy hitting list of neighborhoods I learned in TechCrunch, books, and public company 10K’s. The signs of Menlo Park, Palo Alto, and Mountain View have a greater aura, to me at least, than New York City’s neon lights.