The No. 82 bus today was the newer model with the elevated seats in the back. I took my regular seat in the first elevated row and removed my book from my backpack.
Seated in front and below me was a young man who was reading a free magazine devoted to car dealership advertisements.
"Huge closeout sale!" declared one page. "Your best selection!" promised another. The pages were filled with tiny photos and descriptions of cars and trucks and SUVs just waiting to be driven off the lot.
When I was a child I loved to look at the toy sections of the Sears and Montgomery Wards catalogs. All of those toys. The sheer wealth of opportunity dazzled. I knew my mother couldn't afford to buy any of them, but it was still a favorite pasttime. I suppose my fascination with the today's Fry's Electronics ads in The Bee are an adult extension of that childhood activity.
Looking over the shoulder of the man studying the car ads, it wasn't hard to imagine what he was thinking: "The first chance I get, I'm getting a car and I'm never going to ride a bus again!"
In William Burg's book about Sacramento streetcars, Birdie Boyles, who lived during the heyday of trolleys, told how she couldn't wait until she could get her own car and leave the trolleys behind.
And here I am trying to move against the tide, to bring people back to the bus.
A co-worker was discussing transit and Sacramento the other day. She had been walking with an acquaintance who had suffered a stroke and could no longer driver. She now takes buses everywhere. Her one regret, she told my co-worker, is that all of her friends look down on her because she rides the bus.
That, I told my co-worker, is the first thing that needs to change. Something must be done to improve transit's image, to make people believe it's something you would choose to ride.
But what people see and hear instead are stories about bad things that happen on light rail and buses. Over at that RT driver guy's blog, he has a post today about drug dealers who ride the Meadow View line, turning the train into a salon car for their business, working from Meadowview to Alkalai Flat and then back again.
I really wonder sometimes how much RT cares about its image. It is as if management believes its only job is to serve the disabled and those without other options, and therefore there's no need to try to attract others to use the service.