I often (though no longer “frequently”) take “casual carpool” (or creepy carpool as my co-workers call it). This is an amazing thing to me as it feels like something that can only happen in the bay area. There are places around the east bay where people and automobiles congregate to get across the bay bridge. The advantage for pedestrians is a free ride across the bridge over into the city. The advantage for the driver is that they get to go around the toll plaza, and use the carpool lane. While there’s no HOV lane (or carpool lane as it’s called over here) on the bridge, there are on the highways leading up to the bridge. The HOV lanes on the highway often aren’t that much faster, probably because so many people take advantage of this, but it certainly gets one past the toll booth much faster, and cheaper too now that the bay bridge west bound has gone up to 4 dollars.
I rode casual carpool pretty much daily from North Berkeley. There, it was generally the pedestrians who queued up waiting for cars. Here in del Norte of El Cerrito, it’s the cars that queue up for the passengers. It’s first come, first served by convention, but of course, people try to game it. If it can seat 3 or more, it needs to have 3 people in it. Two seaters (sports cars and pickups) only need to have two people in them. As a result, one will often see two-seaters holding back from the queue trying to entice upcoming pedestrians. Entice, is perhaps, generous. Every time I pass one to actually participate in the first-in, first-out queue, they certainly act perturbed, irritated and frustrated. Yesterday, I passed one. Sometimes they honk. Sometimes, they call out. Often they gesticulate. Yesterday was a caller. He leaned out the window and said, “San kan kees koh? Hey!”
I don’t quite understand why passengers allow that behavior. It’s rarely much of a wait for the second passenger if required. I guess that it saves one the half-block walk from the back of the car queue to the front, but as I have to walk over a couple of miles each day as part of the commute, half a block is approximately meaningless to me.
One other note that I don’t remember if I’ve included here before is the audio selection. When I rode out from North Berkeley, I almost never heard anything but National Public Radio. Riding out from del Norte, I hear just about every thing on the radio. I’ve heard hard rock, I’ve heard Christian talk-radio, and nearly everything in between. It’s amusing because of just how thoroughly Berkeley fits the stereotype of what I think of as Berkeley, right down to the Prii(? plural of Prius?), but that’s a topic for another entry.
Of course, one of the greatest advantages to having someone else ferry me at least part way into work, is that I get to use that part of the commute time to write blog entries! It just means I have to lug the laptop for the other portions of the commute. Worth it? We’ll see. And it can be surprisingly hard to concentrate on telling casual carpool stories while on the car radio local armchair quarterbacks discuss the latest draft pick, or the controversial new choice in the Raiders coaching lineup. Maybe it’s time to pack noise-canceling heaphones too. Well, here’s the transbay bus terminal; I’m off to the next phase of my commute.