When I first started working at IBM Almaden, my commute was about 30 minutes each way, against traffic (thank goodness). It wasn’t bad, as commutes go in the Bay Area, but I was using about 1.3 gallons per day. That quickly adds up, especially the way gas prices are now.

Then I found out that there’s a VTA express bus that goes from Palo Alto and Cupertino to two of IBM’s sites, with a shuttle connection to Almaden. Thanks to the Eco Pass program, it’s free.

Now I’m riding the bus as often as possible. I burn at most half as much gas as before, so I’m now saving a ton of money. Sweeeeeet. I can also work on the bus if I want. And I don’t have to deal with the morons who inhabit our freeways. One of my colleagues says it’s like riding a grown-up version of a school bus — almost every passenger works for IBM (although mostly at two other IBM sites, not Almaden).

There are a few downsides. One, it now takes me an hour each way, 20 minutes of that spent transferring between the bus and the shuttle, and I have to wake up an hour earlier to catch the bus. Two, on the way home, the “bus stop” has no shelter and no bench. Once winter comes, it’ll be dark and wet, at which point I’ll switch back to driving. Finally, if the bus were to, say, break down on the way to picking me up, I would be caught sitting at the bus stop wondering what the *&#$#* was going on. Luckily, my bus stop is at a light rail station, so when that did happen to me yesterday, I was able to hop on the train to downtown San Jose, and then catch a ride with a colleague and her husband to Cupertino, saving myself from a 40-minute bus ride.