Tackling San Francisco Public Transportation, by Lauren Henderson

Three of us chose to rent an apartment in San Francisco to be closer to our Silicon Valley Program internships this semester. We are completely separated from the other members of the program six days per week, since they are living all the way in Mountain View. During our first week in the Bay Area we had orientation in Mountain View that started at 9 a.m., two days in a row. The three of us living in the city, without a car, were forced to figure out public transportation in a city that we knew nothing about it.

The night before, I used all of the MUNI, BART, and Caltrain apps, and Google Maps, to figure out exactly what route we would take and when we would need to leave our apartment. We left the next morning at 6 a.m. to meet the bus that would take us to the Caltrain, which would take us to Mountain View. As we were approaching the bus stop, we saw it driving away with no plans to stop and let us on (which was a good thing since we realized the next day that it was actually going the opposite direction than the one we really wanted to take). Thankfully, I had another plan just in case we missed this first bus.

This plan involved a MUNI ride, a bus ride, and the Caltrain. We successfully got on the MUNI, and on the bus, and despite all of the issues earlier in the morning, we were about to make it to the Caltrain station with just enough time to get to orientation by 9 a.m.. But, of course, that was too good to be true, because a semi-truck tried to make a turn that blocked a huge intersection that the bus needed to go through to get to the Caltrain station. The bus driver let everyone off the bus and people started running towards the station. Having no idea where the station was, we decided to follow everyone else. By the time we had run about 2 blocks, the bus had caught up to us, and the bus driver stopped to let us back on.

We eventually made it on the Caltrain and arrived to the Mountain View train stop at 8:40 am. We almost made it to orientation on time, but we walked 10 blocks in the wrong direction and didn’t make it to orientation until 9:15am. We traveled over 3 hours that morning and the rest of our classmates simply walked from their apartments across the street.

While many people joke about my obsessive planning, everyone benefitted from my having a back up plan, in this situation. We may have tackled the route from our apartment to Mountain View by day 2, but since then we have chosen to rent a car every Saturday in order to be on time for class.

Lauren Henderson Claremont McKenna
Class of 2015