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

Thursday, November 8, 2007

An alternative at 65th Street

While I was watching two blind RT customers being left behind by the light rail train at the 65th Street Station on Tuesday, Sacramento City Councilmen Steve Cohn and Kevin McCarty were across the street at the SMUD auditorium listening to constituents discuss "traffic, light rail, buses and other transportation types with members of your neighborhood." Coffee and cookies were promised.

I hate to miss out on free cookies. However, it's probably best that I didn't go because it wasn't until after I watched the blind woman run across Q Street in her valiant attempt to catch the train that I realized there is a simple way to improve safety and perhaps reduce the number of times riders are left behind.

Below is a aerial view of the intersection of Folsom Boulevard and 65th Street and the transit center to the south.

Currently, buses arriving from the west, east and north enter the 65th Street Transit Center from Folsom Boulevard using an unnamed side street a half-block east of 65th Street. The buses then wend their way around the bus lot to their designated stops. The blue line shows the route taken by buses arriving from Sacramento State.

Having the buses offload passengers at the bus stop invites riders transferring to light rail to jaywalk across Q Street.

Beyond the jaywalking hazard, this meandering course is particularly unkind to passengers on those occasions when the bus enters the center just as the train is rolling into the station. More often than not, passengers hoping to catch the train will instead watch it depart before the bus comes to a stop or, worse, run for the train but arrive too late.

The red line shows my suggested alternative route. These buses would use the left turn lane off 65th Street to enter Q Street, where they would stop adjacent to the light rail station. The green line illustrates the bus entering the transit center to pick up riders.

Wednesday morning, the No. 82 bus I rode to work took two blind gentleman to the 65th Street station. One man was headed downtown on the train, and the other was making a bus connection. Wednesday, the blind man headed for the train had to make his way alone across Q Street. With my alternate routing, he could have been dropped off at the station and the other blind man dropped off where the bus picks up passengers.

Beyond this safety issue, this change might -- maybe, perhaps, if RT really does care about riders and isn't just pretending -- make it possible to better coordinate buses and light rail.

As things work now, the train operator can't be expected to know what's going on across Q Street in the bus center. But if the buses dropped off passengers right next to the station, then even a cursory glance at the side-view mirrors outside the cab would reveal people hurrying to the train.

I made this suggestion to RT and got this back:

Thank you for contacting Regional Transit. An Passenger Service Report has been filed with our Planning Department with your comments and suggestion. Reference number 07-1409 has been assigned to your PSR. The appropriate supervisor will review your comments and suggestion within a reasonable time from receipt.
Do you suppose I can hold my breath a reasonable time from receipt?

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