Exploring Urban’s transit trends


Illustration of the San Francisco Bay Area by Catherine Silvestri

The roar of cars, lurching of busses, and screeching of bicycle brakes are all emblematic of the ways in which Urban students travel to school.

Some take 20 minute bus rides. Others, 10 minute walks to school or five minute bike rides. For these students, navigating through San Francisco presents little challenge.

“If I bike I tend to get sweaty and that makes me feel weird for the rest of the day, but … if I’m on time that puts a bit of pep in my step and that’s a good boost,” said Maceo Anderson (‘18), whose commute takes 20 to 40 minutes by bike or by bus from the outer sunset.

“It’s really nice, especially with the buses being able to go everywhere and on a frequent basis. I think San Francisco’s really lucky to have Muni and … Uber, now, where you can go even further. I think it makes everything more accessible,” said Karan Desai (‘15) on his ability to travel throughout the city. If he bikes, Desai’s commute from the Richmond District takes 15 minutes, while his commute by car takes 25 minutes.

The only challenge Desai sees with his daily commute lies around his value of a hearty breakfast. “In order to have an appropriate breakfast I have to leave around 7:30, which means getting downstairs, eating by 7-ish, [and] waking up around 6:30,” continued Desai. Fortunately, due to the shorter commute by bicycle, Desai “can leave a lot later, which means… an extra ten minutes to lie in or ten minutes to eat.”

For others, however, their lives in and outside of San Francisco revolve around their long commutes. Not only do they have a difficult time getting to school, but even socializing outside of school can be strenuous.  Many activities, such as the occasional sporting event or art show, can continue late into the night raising the tiresome question: how am I going to get home?

Iona Tangri (‘16), who commutes 45 minutes to an hour either by car or the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), recognizes how her commute vastly limits her social life.

“I don’t hang out with friends because of [the commute]. If I lived in San Francisco, I’m sure I would see more of my friends after school but as it is, I go home after school and get home at 4:30 or 5 even, and I can’t go back into the city,” as, when leaving the city, “BART may be closed, and then I just have no way to get home,” said Tangri.

Like Tangri, Sarah Fingerhood (‘17) identifies that the lack of easy transportation to her house in Mill Valley, CA is the main challenge of her journey into the city.“You have to think about it in the long term. If you go in at night you have to plan to be there for a while. It’s also hard to find a ride; I’ve bailed a lot just because I don’t have a ride or just can’t find one,” said Fingerhood, who spends roughly 30 minutes each way traveling by car to and from school.

Brad Bell (‘18) faces one of the toughest commutes to school. Along with other students from the peninsula, Bell travels from Atherton, CA, which takes an hour by train each way.

“I missed my friend’s birthday party last weekend because I was like ‘why come up, it’s not worth it,’” said Bell, later saying that “the commute affects my [social life] pretty greatly but I still make the trek every few weekends,’” to spend time with friends.

Despite these drawbacks, students who reside far from the city prove to be exceptionally dedicated to arriving every day and tackle scholastic problems with the same enthusiasm as students who live closer by.

Tangri recognizes her time spent commuting as one of mental preparation and time for herself. “It takes an hour to an hour and a half so that’s what I use as my time to not do homework and just to read or listen to music … I don’t have any classes where I can do homework without taking up the next three seats. It is a relaxing experience,” said Tangri.

Lily Dodd (‘16), who commutes every day with Bell and others by train from Palo Alto, writes “I actually kind of like the set up. Since I transferred in from Palo Alto High School, still living down there means I get to see my friends from freshman year/childhood a lot. But I also can take the train to see my Urban friends on the weekends and it’s only two dollars. Also, people at Urban are really chill about sleepovers. You can sleep anywhere. And Urban parents are very good with breakfast.”

As the transportation system continues to evolve and more modes of transit are introduced, it is no doubt that Urban will continue to see students from many different locations making the trek to 1563 Page Street every weekday morning.