Friday, March 11, 2011

San Francisco Bay Area Morning Commuter Demographics

In my previous job, I was lucky enough to have lived about 5-minutes highway driving away from the office.  My commute consisted of getting on the highway, taking the second exit, then cruising into the office garage.  Since I now work in San Francisco, my commute has changed drastically.  My commute now lasts between 30-45 minutes each way, depending on the traffic.

There has been some interesting things I have noticed during my commute to work.  Mainly, the commuter demographic varies depending on when I leave for work.

  • 7 - 7:30am commuters.  These guys are on a mission.  They are either go getters (translation: recent college grads and entry level analysts) or work in some janitorial/ blue collar menial job that requires them to get into the office at a set time.  Traffic flows smoothly during this time and there are minimal traffic jams.  Everyone seems intent on getting somewhere and there are very few people driving 50mph on the fast lane.
  • 7:30 - 8am commuters.  Similar demographic to the previous crowd, with a few notable exceptions.  Many of these individuals enjoy cheating.  They may take the left turn only lane up to the stoplight, then make a right cutting off traffic in order to skip the long line, or try to take shortcuts.  I'm actually convinced these individuals fall into the menial job pool, and probably are running late.  Again, in case you haven't noticed, I believe there's a reason why most people in this pool end up there, and this is a prime example.
  • 8 - 8:30 am commuters.  Traffic is building up, but not too bad.  These are mainly executives and other individuals in higher roles who have just dropping off their kids in school.  There are a lot less "cheaters" but these are also individuals who may not be as "time sensitive".  You will often see 40-50 year olds or trophy wives driving Mercedes Benz S550 or the Lexus LS in the fast lane going 50-60 mph. They're not in a hurry to get in the office because they have minions (see the 7 - 7:30 am commuter crowd) doing their work for them.  These guys are annoying cause they block traffic for the rest of us.
  • 8:30 - 9am commuters.  Tons of traffic.  You no longer see higher end European cars, but an abundance of $30K millionaire transportation and Japanese brands.  These are the IT and Engineer crowd.  Of course, there's some white collar menial laborers mixed in.  Many of them are fresh off the boat, mixed with actual soccer moms, creates a dangerous situation where no one pays attention to where they are driving and there are traffic jams everywhere.  You will also get MANY of these individuals who "think" they have the right to go as slow as they wish -- the good old Honda Civic and Camry, or a nice rice rocket cruising at 50 mph on the fast lane.  These individuals also tend to come with big egos.  Although they don't want to drive fast, they don't want anyone to pass them either, so they will leave HUGE gaps between them and the traffic in front of them, but will attempt to block you off if you try to go around their slow ass cars.  Even if you made it ahead and merge in front of them over 5-car length away, they will get mad at you and strongly believe you cut them off. 
  • 9 - 11am commuters.  These are generally retired geriatrics, usually piloting their land yachts. Enough said.
Based on these demographic of the San Francisco Bay Area commuters, I have chosen to fight my battle with the 8 - 8:30 am crowd.  It's just easier to deal with a more upscale and educated bunch. 

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