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, October 2, 2007

Defeat of the transitarian

I was determined that I wouldn't start my day the way I had yesterday. I'm on the second day of a two week vacation and I had spent the first day driving from appointment to home, out on an errand and back. Not a bus in sight.

Today, I boarded my neighborhood bus, the No. 82, and took it to the Starbucks on Watt near Kings Way. I joined a half-dozen riders, mostly students, judging by their age.

Along the way, a middle-aged woman boarded and asked for an all-day pass. "I'm going to do some errands," she explained.

If only it were really that easy. Yes, I have only myself to blame since I live in the unincorporated suburbs of Sacramento, but I can wish.

Yesterday, I needed to get to an office building near the corner of Watt and American River Drive at 9 a.m. The normally helpful couldn't help.

I'm having trouble planning your trip. This is due to one of the following reasons...

* 1. Your origin or destination are not within .4 mile of a transit stop, or they are outside of our service area. If you are within our service area, try using a nearby Landmark or major intersection which is more likely to have a stop nearby. If you are outside our service area, please consider traveling to/from one of our Light Rail stations (listed in Landmarks).
* 2. There is no service on the day or at the time you've requested. Please try a different date or time.

This has happened before. It would be nice if the site allowed users to set an acceptable walking distance, rather than limit walking to less than 0.4 miles.

As it happens, the No. 80 and No. 84 buses cross American River Drive on the Watt bridge, but the nearest bus stop is north of Fair Oaks at a little side street named Cosmos Avenue. Still, according to, the distance from the stop on Cosmos to the end of the Watt off-ramp that drops traffic onto American River Drive is actually just 0.36 miles.

Since I had never been to this office before, I didn't check the time for getting to Cosmos and walking. I just drove. Me and hundreds of others riding alone.

This morning the bus had a baker's dozen riders by the time I got off at Kings Way, still mostly students but with several elderly salted in the crowd.

At Starbucks I had an apple fritter and a coffee and read a chapter in a book. When I finished the coffee, I walked over to Emigh Hardware to pick up something I needed for a Honey-do project, and then walked to the Watt and El Camino bus stop. When I checked the schedule I found I had less than 10 minutes to wait for the next bus home. Fortunes of clean living or just the sort "good luck" that comes when you don't care if the wait is a half-hour.

I arrived home relaxed and feeling good about my choice of riding the bus. And then the phone rang.

The Honey-Do Ranch foreman explained that I needed to take her sweater to the cleaners -- yes, today, not tomorrow; it must be back in time for our trip to Oregon Friday -- and while I'm there I can pick up some chocolate that we will be taking with us.

And all the transitarian enthusiasm that had ballooned in me escaped in a long hiss. Pffffft! I just don't have enough time in my day to take two buses to get to the cleaners and then two buses to get back.

Defeated, I will take the car out on another errand.

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