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

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

One happy transitarian

Upfront I must confess that I want to be able to say Sacramento Regional Transit is a great service. I want people to use the system because the more people who ride transit, the better the system will become. I'm not an unbiased observer.

So perhaps my enthusiasm today can be blamed on my unyielding desire to promote RT ridership, but frankly I have proof that sometimes stuff just works.

On Aug. 27 I need to get from my home near Carmichael to the City College campus for a 9 a.m. orientation class.

My first stop in planning any trip is always, RT's online Trip Planning service. I'm not sure what riding RT would have been like back before the Internet. My experience with 321-BUSS hasn't been encouraging. But the site has been a real joy to use, although I learned today that you still need to be careful.

I decided to try out my options before Aug. 27. I asked for schedules today between my home and City College, explaining that I want to arrive at City College at 8:30 a.m. I figured I would need time to find the classroom by 9 a.m.

The Trip Planning site offered 10 choices of routes that would get me to City College between 8:08 a.m. and 8:40 a.m. Nine of those choices had me leaving my house before 7 a.m., which I don't want to do. But one choice left at 7:24 a.m. -- No. 82 to 65th Street light rail station, No. 81 bus to 65th Street and 14th Avenue and No. 83 bus to from 14th Avenue to City College -- arriving at the light rail station at 8:40 a.m.

Today, I took that route and discovered that if the No. 82 bus is just a little early (as it was today) I can catch the No. 83 at the 65th Street light rail station and skip the No. 81. I arrived at City College at 8:40 a.m. Having successfully tested this arrangement, I happily caught the Watt/I-80-bound train to 16th Street and walked to work.

Back at work, however, I returned to Instead of an 8:30 a.m. arrival time, I said I wanted to arrive at City College at 9 a.m. This time the 10 choices included three new ways I could leave my home at either 7:24 a.m. or 7:26 a.m. and arrive at City College at 8:38 a.m. on the Meadowview-bound train.

I know from experience that the No. 82 bus runs late once Sacramento State students return to school. Therefore, the No. 82 most likely won't be early at 65th Street and could even miss the No. 81 connection. But now I find I can leave two minutes later than I did today, catch the Meadowview-bound train at the start of its run at the Watt/I-80 station and ride all the way to City College, arriving two minutes earlier.

The new route will require meeting the train at Watt, but even if I miss that scheduled connection, the next train will put me at City College before 9 a.m. As an added bonus, I will be sure to have a seat for the long train ride and therefore plenty of reading opportunity.

From a transitarian perspective, this is heaven.

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