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OP-ED: A smarter commute
December 27, 2013, 05:00 AM By John Ford

Did you know that four of the top 10 New Year’s resolutions for 2013 were to exercise regularly, save money, balance work and family life and read more?

The Peninsula Traffic Congestion Relief Alliance (, a public agency that works with employers, schools, commuters and residents in San Mateo County to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality, thinks the answer to keeping your resolutions can be found by adopting a smarter commute.

If your resolutions list for 2014 includes exercising regularly, saving money, balancing work and family life and reading more, perhaps an alternative commute may help you achieve them all. And, here’s why:

Saving Money: Switching from driving alone to public transit, ridesharing, biking or walking can have an immediate impact on your budget. According to the American Public Transportation Association, Bay Area residents who ride public transit can save on average around $900 a month, which adds up to more than $10,800 a year. Simply taking Caltrain, BART or SamTrans a couple of times a week can greatly reduce the amount of money you spend on gas, parking and vehicle maintenance.

Exercising Regularly: Choosing to walk or bicycle to work or school can integrate exercise into your daily life without requiring a gym membership. The buses, trains and last mile shuttles (visit for more information on shuttles) all accommodate bicycles so it is easier than ever to include bicycling into your daily commute. Just by walking 10 minutes to or from a transit station makes it easier to achieve the recommended 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day.

Spending More Time with Family: Telecommuting and flex scheduling are great ways to achieve a better balance between work and family. Eliminating your commute once a week not only gives you more time with your family and friends but also eases the commute for everyone else. More and more businesses in San Mateo County are adopting flexible scheduling to help their employees balance their lives and reduce their stress.

Reading More: Riding public transit or ridesharing has the added benefit of giving you the opportunity to read during your commute. Whether you like to read novels, blogs, newspapers or fashion magazines, by letting someone else do the driving you put valuable time back into your day so you can read more.

In addition to the money you save by choosing a smarter commute, offers incentives to reward you if you commit to trying carpooling or vanpooling. Incentives include up to $300 for vanpools and gas cards worth up to $60 for carpools. If you would rather try using public transit for your commute, the Alliance’s Try Transit program offers you free tickets on one of the providers that serve San Mateo County.

The financial, health and life balance benefits make smarter commuting the perfect choice for a New Year’s resolution. Whether the goal is to get in shape, balance your budget, spend more time with family or read more, the team at believes that you can achieve it and is happy to assist you in your efforts. Visit for more information and best of luck in 2014.

John Ford is the executive director of the Peninsula Traffic Congestion Relief Alliance.



Tags: commute, family, public, transit, balance, money,

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