Thursday, March 8, 2007

Take a Ride with me !

My Daily Commute from Tracy to San Jose :-)

Ok now before I write this I just wanted to share the process of taking these photos. I took them driving at close to 70-75 miles an hour on the 580/680 freeways. Yes that's right, one hand on the steering wheel and one hand clutching the camera. I have this really old PENTAX digital camera with no steady shot or sports mode, so some pics might be blurry. Needless to say, it was pretty scary at times and I really pissed off this guy driving behind me in a Dodge RAM3500 because at one point I was weaving a little on the Altamont Pass road. It is dangerous and I wouldn't recommend it. (Kids, don't try this at home, or out of it) Anyways I survived and have compiled a lot of pictures showing you what the drive from Tracy to San Jose (where I work) can be like...

Google Map (For indicative purposes only)

I Left home at 9:30 AM and reached work at 10:40. It took me one hour and 10 minutes. It is usually a 45 minute drive, but only when there are no stops in traffic flow (Unlike today). I avoid rush hour as much as possible, because EVERYONE (and I mean half the population of the Bay Area) is trying to get to work at the same time and you might be in for a 2 hour drive if things get bad (as in 'parking lot' trafffic jam). The trick is to leave home at 9:30 AM or slightly after it, so that the commute is not too bad..

Click here to view videos of the commute.


The first thing I learned is that you need a dependable car. Very often I see these old cars (usually 12 years or older) pulled over to the side of the road. Usually they break down or run out of gas. Which is why the first order of the day is to fill about $10 worth of gas (per round trip) in my trusty little Volkswagen. It is a very sturdy car and gives me great mileage (20-24 city, 30 highway). Ofcourse you could always buy a Camry, Accord, Civic, Prius or Corolla, nothing wrong with them at all. (You might even get better mileage)
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Eleventh Street leading up to the 205 highway is extremely pretty and has broad open streets with very ornamental street lamps (that was the first thing I noticed when I drove into Tracy for the first time).
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A little bridge flies you over 205 and merges into 205-West and your journey begins...
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Mountain House is a planned community located in unincorporated San Joaquin County, approximately 5 miles northwest of the City of Tracy. The community has an approximate population of 3,000 people and that's all I know about that for now.. have never been there.. I might just make a detour someday just to see what all the fuss is about.. They don't seem to have much infrastructure yet.
I took this one pic after I passed a Carrier loaded with Toyota Priuses (?). Looks like the commuters these days love em. Btw, The Chevy VOLT is supposed to be a new electric car releasing soon.., it looks really cool. Hope to get one when it does come out..
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Here are a few views I snapped just before the Altamont Pass. When this highway is empty, I really like driving on it. Notice the Windmills all along the periphery of the photos, some people think they are an eyesore, but I think they are just beautiful... They are so neat and clean and hell, they even provide electricity. Truth be told I don't like the traditional windmills (like the farm ones, or the dutch windmills) but these white ones are elegant and look like rows of lilly white flowers from afar. Oh and I like cows ! (and NO I am not gay) :-)
I did grow up on a farm though...

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The Altamont Pass is gorgeous to me because you can see folks driving in the opposite direction (into tracy) but they are nearly a mile away. The view is really breathtaking. I wish I could actually stop and sit on the hillside and watch the cars go by.. (hmm.. sounds like a song or something).Oh by the way, I nearly lost control of my car trying to take the next 2 pictures. You can see I nearly drove off the yellow line... That was frightening :-p(click images for more detail)


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You can see Livermore from this downward slope. The next exit after the slope would be Vasco Rd (That Takes you to Brentwood). After that you have a few more Livermore Exits like Portola, Livermore and Airway.. now THIS is where the trouble starts traffic wise... (usually)
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Welcome to Santa Rita Rd. Now depending on whether or not you are spiritual, this stretch of road right till the 580/680 Junction can literally be hell. (You're supposed to pray to Santa Rita that you don't have to wait too long). Luckily I have never waited for more than 10 minutes, but remember to leave home later to avoid the jams here... The Trucks make it even worse, but hell they gotta earn a living too right ? Driving a truck can't be much fun in this traffic. (I wouldn't want to be in the truckers shoes). (click images for more detail)

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After a very minor 5 minute jam (courtesy of Saint Rita), I reached the 580/680 Junction and took the road to San Jose. This signifies the half-way point of my daily commute. Now the traffic tends to be a bit faster all the way down to Milpitas. Don't forget your tinted eyewear (shades that is..)... the sun shines directly into your face (Which explains the silhouetted pictures from this point on) (click images for more detail)

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The 580/680 junction is in Dublin and once on 680 you drive through Pleasanton, Fremont, Sunol, till you reach Milpitas. The drive is Very Scenic. Took a picture of this police cruiser waiting for the occasional idiot to zoom past the cone zone.. :-p (gulp)(click images for more detail)

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A few more pics whilst breezing through Fremont (Mission Exit to 880 would be here). I pass Mission Blvd, then Automall Pkwy. Traffic is now non existent and the drive is very smooth. Remember... Leave late, resist the temptation to get stuck in traffic :)(click images for more detail)

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Once I see and cross the Jacklin rd exit, I know I am just a few miles from work and breathe a sigh of relief. I take the Montague Expressway exit. Last month this time, Montague expressway was all I had to travel on to work and back (San Tomas / Montague). Now of course being in Tracy puts a whole new map route on the table. (click images for more detail)


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Ah work at last... Now to earn my daily bread. (click images for more detail)

Thanks for taking this journey with me. I will post another perhaps of the drive to Tracy. Please feel free to comment or email me with any extra tips I may have missed out on...

That's it... for today.


Click here to view videos of the commute.

41 comments:

  1. "I Left home at 9:30 AM and reached work at 10:40. It is usually a 45 minute drive..."
    45 minutes drive! From Tracy to San Jose!? Daytime?
    Come again?

    Maybe 45 minutes if you are using a Bell 407 helicopter or driving Bugatti Veyron. Otherwise - ahhh... NO.

    No disrespect Mr. Tracy, but I need an independent witness to time and confirm your trips! :-)

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  2. Dude ! 45 minutes if there is NO traffic. Read again :-)
    and yes, please come and time me !
    no problems whatsoever.
    -DickTracy

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  3. I actually agree with Mr. Tracy. It takes me 45-50min if I leave my house at 9:15 every morning. Hey Dick I work pretty close to you-Junction Ave. Do you work in CADENCE ?

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  4. No, I don't work for Cadence, but I work on River Oaks Pkwy. I just use the Cadence exit to get to my company parking lot a bit faster :)

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  5. ok, ok, you Tracy race drivers! I will take your word for it. Just stay away from trouble and look for the highway patrol dudes. They are pretty unforgiving and you will have difficulties explaining the judge why you were driving 75 miles per hour when speed limit is 55. :-)

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  6. I get to Mountain View by 237 in about 1 hour and 20 minutes. So Milpitas in an hour is quite doable, without speeding much.

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  7. Nice job, all of us Silicon Valley commuters can appreciate the "trip".
    I like to see the sun rising in the morning (around 6:30 - 07:00 am) and bathing the Altamont/valley hills in sunlight. It's very serene.
    I start out at Tracy Bl. and 205 so I have a little ways to look at it all.
    Hate the damn soundwalls they are building along 205. Wrecks the view of the valley. Get out early and check out the view!

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  8. I had the same exact thoughts before I read the Dicktracy website. I seem to have similar salary, experience abt 60 min drive time during random time during day on a non working day.
    and schools are good, but no high prices for homes.

    I am buying a home in december there and may be carpool with Dicktracy!

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  9. Hi, love the pictures. You say its best to leave after 9.30, but what would be the best time if I try to go BEFORE all the traffic starts. Would 6 be an ok to leave Tracy? Do you have any idea how the traffic is around that time?

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  10. well, if you leave at 6, you WILL get traffic... no avoiding that, unless you figure how to fly over a traffic jam.. :)

    try 8 - 8:30 am... that might get you into milpitas/santa clara by about 9:45 - 10am.

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  11. I only have to go to Pleasanton. I start working at 7:30 so I was hoping leaving at 6 would be early enough. I will get off at 4, I imagine traffic will be a real pain in the afternoon. Oh well thats the joy of living in Tracy.

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  12. I am considering moving to Tracy and commuting to Fremont for work. So you are saying it's better to leave later than earlier, say 5:30 am?

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  13. I have to start off by Thanking you for having this site. I came across it by accident and am Thankful I did. My family and I are considering moving to Tracy but I am concerned about the drive. Our commute would be Tracy to Redwood City; Google Maps says it would take 1hr 7mins (fr Work to Tracy, CA). Do you have any idea what the traffic would be like? Google Maps recommends 880>238/538 Stockton>580>205. We are going to drive out to Tracy this weekend to looking around town, the houses & see how the drive is. I want a realistic idea on the drive. You say it is better to leave Tracy at 9:30. What would be a safe time to leave in the early AM? Do you know if we would experience the same amount of traffic if we left at 5, 6 or 7AM? Do you find the drive to be draining? or Wish you lived closer to work? I don't want us to regret buying a home out there and then be stuck. Thank you so much for your advice.

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  14. Hi Dick Tracy,

    I am looking to find contact with a Tracy-Bay Area commuter for a book I am assisting with research for. It is being written by award-winning journalist Charles Montgomery, and will be published in 2011 in Canada, the US, and the UK. I'd love to speak with you about your commute. Please contact me as soon as possible at 604-619-7996 or csg.mclaren@gmail.com

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  15. Hi there, talked to you about a year ago because we were thinking of moving to Tracy and having the Tracy-South Bay commute... last November we bought a house (short sale, wow the price was amazing)and I started my commute... it has gone much better than I expected, it helps to have a new car and have regular maintenance, which I have and do. I get up at 4:30am, leave the house at 5pm, pull into my office's secured climate controlled undergound parking about 6:00 to 6:15 am, turn on my cell phone alarm, but my seat back with 2 pillows and a blanket, and nap until 7:45 when I go to my office and start my work day at 8am. I am off at 5pm (they are not flexible or offer flex-times) so I use the time between 5 and 7pm to run my weekend errands in Milpitas, or just surf the net (Milpitas has great City sponsered free wi-fi) and sometimes I have a nice dinner at Red Lobster by myself. Then I head back to Tracy about 7pm, and get there at 8pm, enough time to enjoy some TV and my family for a few hours. The upside, we have a wonderful home we could have never afforded in the Bay Area, I get lots of "me" time either commuting or waiting for 7pm to commute... and I have never been happier! So it may not work for everyone, it really works for us. Thanks for your encouragement last year, you were right, we don't regret it. And all that bug-a-boo scare tactics people told me Tracy is full of KKK, methheads, and illegal immigrants, that is just not true at all. Tracy is like any other city, a few bad, most good, and I think it is a great place to live, and in 10 years, retire.

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  16. Move closer to work!!! Trying to commute this far is absolutely nuts, spending 1-1.5 hours each way on the road is a waste of time, stressful, bad for the environment, and gas prices will absolutely kill you. Most people who work in San Jose live locally, I know the cost of living in San Jose is high but live in an apartment like a lot of people do, some of the apartments there are really quite nice. Or get a job in a different city with a lower cost of living or something.

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  17. Sure, you could live closer to work, but that would involve living in a cesspool of apartments with high rents and with very rude and noisy people.. believe you me, I spent many years doing that and I am not at all sorry I made the choice to move to Tracy.
    As I have mentioned before, the drive to and from work becomes a lot shorter if one listens to a nice audiobook (better yourself), or have a carpool mate to drive with. Or one could just listen to some enjoyable music. I have friends in San Jose south, who work in santa clara and sunnyvale. They take Hwy 17 and hwy 101 South everyday.. It takes them about 45 minutes to get home anyways... So I must say, I dont see your point... My car current commuter car (VW Beetle) gives me 36 miles/gallon and when I get home, I have a huge backyard and a huge 4 bedroom, 2 story house to lounge in... Plus, it is quiet.. I can hear the crickets literally.. no police sirens, no rude neighbors.
    Your argument is quite literally baseless. Especially the last line.
    You have a good day Mr. Anonymous. :-)

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  18. And if you don't want to drive, take the ACE train... problem solved.

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  19. Hi DickTracy!

    I was just offered a job in Sunnyvale, CA and am considering renting a house in Tracy or a surrounding area. I noticed many of these posts were from a few years ago - is the commute still okay? I was hoping to get into work around 9-930am, what time do you think I would need to leave my home? And what time do you suggest for leaving work to head back to Tracy? I am coming from Michigan so this whole traffic thing is nuts!! Thank you.

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  20. I put up some videos of my commute see the links on the side of page.
    Leave at 8. You will reach at 9:30am

    On return home leave at about 6pm. It will take between an hour and a fifteen and an hour fourty five to get back.

    See the videos. I made them the day before yesterday.
    http://livingintracy.blogspot.com/2011/09/videos-of-my-daily-commute.html

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  21. Chris, Thanks a LOT for blogging on this; I used to live in tracy back in 2006 but mainly worked from home, then in 2007 my company relocated me to San Diego. Weird things happen in life... my company is now relocating me to the bay area and guess what, looking to buy another house in Tracy. I'm a little concerned about the traffic as my office is in San Carlos but your blog is really helping me make a decision :) .. Please email me I would like to talk more :)

    alexgauthier24@gmail.com.

    Thank you!!!!

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  22. Thanks Alex,
    Btw, See the videos. I made them a couple weeks ago.
    http://livingintracy.blogspot.com/2011/09/videos-of-my-daily-commute.html

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  23. I'm planning to move to Tracy. My work in Milpitas starts at 8:30am. What time should I leave tracy to make it to work on time? Include normal traffic commute please. Thanks Dick Tracy

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  24. Try leaving home at about 7am, just to be safe.. If you dont have to use hwy 237 when you get to Milpitas, then you'll reach in time..

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  25. Hey, I am planning to move to Tracy . Fell in love with a wonderfull home . I will be car pooling. What time should I leave to get to Santa Clara (Scott and el Camino) by 8am

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  26. Tracy,

    if i leave at 9:15am..could I get to Warren ave in Fremont by 10am? I am simply trying to "avoid traffic". What would be the ideal times if I left early vs later?

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  27. I'm sure you could ! But try leaving at 9 just to be sure. I've noticed the commute has changed from 3-4 years ago. Could it be that less people have jobs to go to? Don't know. Also, it's summer break now for kids, so less traffic on the roads to get from home to the highway.

    Enjoy!

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    Replies
    1. Any comments on the commute to SF

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    2. Its long. the main block is the bay bridge.

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  28. tracy is an ok town to live in. its just too far to commute. even commuting to pleasanton is too far.

    make whatever financial and personal sacrifices you have to make in order to have the shortest commute possible.

    thats my opinion. not everyone will feel like that though. i absolutely hate commuting by car or public transportation.

    even if you dont hate commuting as much as i do, trust me living in tracy, waking up at 5:15 to make it to oakland by 6:30 is going to be a major pain and you will feel that pain after the first day!

    also if your not lucky enough to work a 6:30 to 3PM shift and you have to work until 5PM, the commute back is going to take you 90 minutes.

    No thanks. Not worth it at all. Wouldnt wish that commute on my worst enemy. Stuck in traffic from 580/680, backed up going 10 mph past santa rita, all the way to Vasco where it then may clear up a bit going over the hill.

    Please, please do not try to talk anymore people into thinking that commute, as you are doing a HUGE disservice to your readers.

    You make it sound like a walk in the park. Everyone I know who lives in Tracy, absolutely dreads/loathes that commute back in the East Bay or South Bay.. even SF and having to take bart.

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  29. Dear Anonymous,
    While I respect your views and opinion, I will say that yes, it is not for everyone. Some definitely don't like sitting in traffic. Some don't mind it as an inconvenience to be able to afford a big house and a good life for their family. Lets face it, the jobs that pay big are in the bay area, but the housing will kill your wallet. It's just a matter of the sacrifice one is will g to make.

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  30. Mr DT:

    Love the pictures. Be safe buddy. I work in Sunnyvale..What time should I leave work to get to my Tracy home at 5:00 pm to water my huge garden? Thank you.

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  31. Hi there, thanks for posting the information on this topic. I am currently shopping for a home in Tracy and am wondering what is traffic like in 2015. I work in the Great America Parkway area in Santa Clara about 10:30-6:30. What time do you think I should hit the road in the morning if I buy in Tracy? Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. You'll be fine if you leave Tracy by 9am and take the 84 route through Livermore.

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    2. Thanks for your reply. As for the ACE train, how long did it take you to get from Tracy to Great America station? The schedule suggests at least 1.5 hours. I hope it is quicker...

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    3. About an hour and fifteen minutes.

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  32. Hello, my wife and I are browsing for a house in Tracy around ACE train station. Is it a safe neighborhood and good public school? Does Tracy have a TK program for kids who were born after the cut off date? Is there a city run cheap around $600 full time preschool for 2-3 years old? Thanks in advance for replying.

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  33. Replies
    1. can you recommend the preschool names for 2-3 years old toddler that cost around $700 for M-F 7am-6pm if any? thanks

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