“It takes a big chunk out of my day, obviously,” Whiteside said. “My wife and I don’t see each other a lot during the week.”
FOX40 joined Whiteside on his daily commute to work, which takes him from Roseville, California , to Fremont. Whiteside is a Senior Technical Artist for a video game company. The 64-year-old says in this field, there are few openings closer to home.
“They kind of call people in my industry 'digital gypsies,'" said Whiteside. “Because quite often, we have to move to another country or another state.”
Whiteside’s first stop is Davis, where he parks his car, and walks two-and-a-half blocks to the Amtrak station. He needs to catch the 6:35 a.m. train to Fremont. And he’s not alone. Other commuters line up on the platform in the early hours of the morning—others, willing to sacrifice hours of their day for a piece of the American dream.
Whiteside’s morning commute is more than three hours long. Thomas Pogue with the University of the Pacific said Whiteside’s commute isn’t unique. It’s part of a growing trend that he calls “extreme commuting.”
“The number of commuters has basically doubled from the Sacramento area into the Bay area, as well as from the Northern San Joaquin Valley into the Bay Area,” Pogue said.
Pogue said extreme commuting is defined as traveling more than two hours a day for their job. He said, there are several factors driving these commuters, including the high price of housing in the Bay Area. But social and familial factors also come into play. Whiteside agrees.
“I have kids that live here, and that was a major motivation -- to be near our kids, and our grandkids,” said Whiteside. “I just decided it was worth the commute to keep doing what I was doing, and still be living here in Roseville, in a more inexpensive house.”
Whiteside said, his commute is long, but overall it doesn’t bother him.
“I either read books or work on my laptop. Sometimes I listen to audiobooks,” said Whiteside. “It’s nice to sit here and look out the window and watch things go by. You don’t get to do that if you drive.”
By the time Whiteside gets to Fremont, it’s 9 a.m. He still has a 30 minute walk ahead of him before he finally arrives.
“I have the two-and-a-half miles that I walk to the office, which is part of the benefit,” said Whiteside. “I get a little exercise every single day.”
That’s just the first half of his commute. After work, Pogue has another three-hour trek home. He won’t arrive at his house in Roseville until 9:30 p.m.
Pogue said, to reduce the numbers of extreme commuters, tech companies would need to set up shop closer to Sacramento. However, for Whiteside, working at home is something he and his family would have to consider.
“I really like what I’m doing,” said Whiteside. “I really like the people I work with, so it would be a hard decision. Certainly, my wife would want me to stay closer to home.”