‘Super commuters’ ditching expensive Bay Area for affordability, but spend hours on the road


TRACY (KRON) — It’s 4:30 a.m. on a Thursday morning and Tracy commuters are filling up their tanks, grabbing a cup of coffee and hitting the road with the tens of thousands of other super commuters clogging the Altamont Pass before sunrise.

Spending more than three hours on the road to get to work, super commuters make up some of the nearly 150,000 people traveling on the Altamont every day, according to Caltrans.

“The reason I do it is because of affordability,” said super commuter Theresa Sciortino.

Sciortino commutes to work from Tracy — one of the fastest growing cities in Northern California’s megaregion.

She travels on the I-580 corridor — one of the most congested in the state She works as a 911 dispatcher for Santa Clara County, making double what she’d make, she says, if she worked where she lived.

“What does keep me going is the salary, so that’s what I do it,” Sciortino said.

Same goes for Donelle Shorter, who moved her family from San Leandro to Tracy in the 1990s and has never looked back.

“We moved because we got more house for the money out here, better living environment better school system,” Shorter said.

The commute, unfortunately, is only going to get worse.

The Tri-Valley San Joaquin Valley Rail Authority predicts a 60 percent increase in traffic between 2013 and 2040, with thousands of new homes already being built in the valley.

“It’s at least a two hour ride to work, three hours home, that’s five hours a day — I’m working a 15 hour day,” Sciortino said.

But for some, it’s worth it.

Sciortino comes home to a large, updated, state of the art house with what she calls her backyard oasis that’s quiet, safe and affordable.

“Even with my commute, even the maintenance that I pay for my vehicle, it doesn’t even compare to what I’d be paying for property over there,” she said.

Realtors in the area say more and more families are moving out of the bay and over the altamont, caring less about the traffic and more about the house they’ll come home to.

“Somewhere around 80 to 85 percent of the people who are new homeowners in Tracy are leaving the Bay Area to come out this way,” said Realtor Mike Brown, with Keller William Realty. “Your money goes a lot further and what you can get here, you can’t even get a condo in the Bay Area.”

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