It’s no secret that Silicon Valley hosts more jobs than houses, but in recent years the disparity between the two has increased, as has the number of commuters and the length of their commutes. Several teachers and students at M-A have commuted every morning for years, myself included.
Whereas my commute of six miles, mostly on El Camino, took around 20 minutes my freshman year, recently it has taken up to 35 minutes. Senior Sana Sheikholeslami used to commute from Belmont to Menlo Park, spending 40 minutes in gridlock each way. Though I live in Redwood City, this phenomenon applies to locals as well. Viena Hoffman, another senior at M-A, noticed that her 1.4 mile commute down Middlefield takes up to 30 minutes. “I feel like it wasn’t as bad,” she stated, when asked how those numbers compared to her experience in her freshman year. Whether they drive on El Camino, Middlefield Road, or Alameda de Las Pulgas, students report significant congestion in the mornings.
Several teachers commute from farther up the peninsula as well, Half Moon Bay and the Mission, for example, spending even longer in southbound, rush hour traffic. One teacher remarked that she sometimes spends over an hour driving to school in the morning, even when she leaves her home before 7:00 am.
Some of the blame for the recent traffic boom lies with the near 19,800 tech startups in Silicon Valley, with nearly 10 more established each week, according to AngelLink, a website that connects job-seekers and investors with tech companies. The recent passage of Measure M, which allowed developers to create around 400,000 square feet of new office buildings in the Menlo Park section of El Camino, will only exacerbate this trend. The recent redistricting in Sequoia Union High School District, brought about because of a projected near 20% increase in the population of high school students in the area, also likely contributed to the commuting catastrophe that is the 2015-2016 school year.