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

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Ins and outs, but mostly ins (knock on wood)

The RT Rider blog has a motto. It's up there on the top of the site. It goes like this:

Travels of a rookie commuter as he learns the ins and outs of relying on Sacramento Regional Transit.
And travel I have.

Since I started leaving my car at home, I have had to drive just once, and that was only as far as the nearby light rail park-and-ride station. Every other day I've been able to rely on Sacramento Regional Transit.

Today was one of those great convergences of good fortune and RT scheduling.
Sort of like the clock that's broken and still tells the correct time twice a day.

I needed to get from 21st and Q streets to 11th and J and arrive at 2:30 p.m. That's a distance of 1.4419 miles, according to the Gmap-Pedometer. That's not too far to walk. Yesterday on my way to work, I took the No. 30 bus to 11th and L streets, walked to 11th and J and then walked to work, keeping track of the time. Thanks to the Transitarian Diet, walking is an option. But I'd be walking in the afternoon, and I didn't want to arrive looking and smelling like a sweaty dog in a tie and sport coat. I already look funny enough in a tie and sport coat.

While I was walking down 21st Street yesterday afternoon to time how long it would take to walk to L Street to catch the No. 30 bus, I had an epiphany, a big bus epiphany. A bus passed me on 21st Street, announcing "FREEPORT/DOWNTOWN" service.

OK. I have no idea why it didn't occur to me that buses travel downtown on 21st Street. But there is was, big as life and just as noisy -- the No. 62 bus.

But what about timing? my cynical self said to the gift horse. Back at the office I went to and checked on the No. 62 schedule traveling downtown. Sure enough, the No. 62 is scheduled to arrive at 11th and L at 2:24 p.m. "Damn," I exclaimed out loud. That's plenty of time to walk two blocks to 11th and J.

When you consider that the Freeport to downtown bus runs just once each half-hour, getting such a perfect schedule had to be more than coincidence. This was divine transitarian intervention.

The bus is scheduled to arrive at 21st and Q at 2:16 p.m. I was waiting this afternoon at 2:10 just to be safe. I began to sweat despite the cool breeze when 2:16 rolled around without the bus. But soon I could see it in the distance, rumbling up 21st Street.

I was on the bus and on my way to my appointment by 2:19, and I was at my destination waiting for the elevator at 2:30. I would be hard pressed to get my car out of the parking lot, drive the 1.4 miles and find another parking space in that time.

Among the ins and outs of relying of Sacramento Regional Transit, this afternoon was a definite in.


Anonymous said...

Can you please tell me how safe is to park the car at RT park & Ride locations, for 8 to 5 timing.

John said...

I take the bus from my house to light rail and then to work. Or I take two buses. So I don't have daily experience with park-and-ride lots.

However, on those occasions when I have driven to a park-and-ride lot, I have returned to find my car unmolested.

RT has contract security guards at all park-and-ride lots. Of course, there was that problem in Rancho Cordova where the contract guards were caught stealing video game boxes from cars, but that's the exception that proves the rule. Maybe.

Bottom line: Parking your car anywhere for an extended period has its risks. RT tries to reduce those risks. I have no problem recommending that people park their cars and jump on light rail, especially if you work regular daytime hours. If you work nights and pick up the car after midnight -- which I have done twice in the last year -- it is a little lonely out there, but no more threatening than any lonely place at midnight.