There is a certain happiness sighted when your bus comes along. It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing.

-Richard Brautigan, The Old Bus

Friday, June 15, 2007

Fighting global warming

A woman and man are seated immediately behind the driver on either side of the bus. The three are chatting as I board and take my customary seat in the rear.

No one else is on bus.

During the school year, the No. 82 bus that departs American River College at 7:19 a.m. would be full of Mira Loma High School students when I board. They get off at Eastern and Edison and then the students from the Winterstein Adult Center and Sacramento State fill the bus. It can be a crowded, noisy bus -- exciting in a transitarian way.

Not today.

The bus rumbles past stop after stop on this summer Friday morning. No one is waiting. When we turn onto Watt, we're following close behind a No. 84 bus. At each stop, it sweeps up the Watt riders, leaving nothing behind for us.

Not until we get to Watt and El Camino do we pick up another rider. I recognize him as a regular rider. He shops at Wal-Mart and then returns home. He's carrying a bag of items from Wal-Mart as he boards..

We must wait to catch up with our schedule. The driver and the two passengers in front continue their conversation.

Now is the time when people should try taking Regional Transit to work. In today's Bee, Stuart Leavenworth has a commentary in which he encourages the governor to do more to encourage people to do their part to fight global warming. "Hey, governor! State needs anti-warming pitchman," the headline declares. But it's a bit too far fetched to imagine The Evil Transitator taking up the cause of public transit.

Who speaks for riders of Regional Transit? I have asked the question before. The Sacramento region has an organization that speaks for disabled riders. The bicycle riders have more than one organization making sure their special needs are met. But I can find no group that represents the people who ride Sacramento Regional Transit buses and light rail.

No one.

By the time the No. 82 bus turns onto Fair Oaks on its way to Sacramento State, the bus has at least one rider in every seat. The crowd encourages the driver, who adds an extra syllable as he enthusiastically announces "Fair Oaks and Ca-dil-lac-a." He's a cheerful driver. Sometimes he whistles as he drives.

3 comments:

Maya said...

You should start an RT riders association.

John said...

I would love to participate in an RT Riders Association. I'd even take an active role.

But to get such an organization started you need someone who is comfortable wearing a sandwich-board sign and passing out literature at light rail stations.

I can do public speaking -- when invited -- but I don't do cold-call sales.

Maya said...

Well, in that little newsletter, there was a note about vendors for RT stations. Maybe at ones where there are already vendors, you could get them to give away pamphlets? And also, maybe RT would post a link to a web site, if there was one. And perhaps you could get an editorial columnist to write it up in the Bee, and the News & Review. Also, maybe you could get kickdowns from the local transportation management associations.

Obviously it would start small, but don't underestimate the drive of motivated Sacto citizens.