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

Friday, November 30, 2007

Your tax dollars at work. Do you care?

"Is this unusual, or is this how these things usually go?"

I smiled in response to the lady's question as I packed up my stuff.

"I have never been to one of these before," I told her. "I just came to see what happens."

Less than a half-hour after it started, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments public hearing to discuss the SACOG TMP 2035 plan and its EIR was over. At issue was a plan that seeks to map the transportation future of a six county region and in the process allocate $42 billion over 28 years.

That $42 billion represents about $13,000 for every man, woman and child who is expected to be living in the region by 2035. (More than 3.2 million people are expected to call the region home in 2030.)

So, with that much at stake, it was just a little surprising that the SACOG board couldn't muster enough members to satisfy quorum requirements. Of course, since only four people signed up to speak to the board it probably was just as well.

SACOG is in the middle of its "comment" period for this plan. The comment period opened Nov. 5 and runs through Dec. 20. Considering what's at stake, it would seem prudent for more people to pay attention. You can find out more about this planning effort and what has been proposed at

I had taken the bus from work to the meeting, and afterward I walked to J Street to wait for the next No. 30. Waiting with me was the lady who had asked me about the speedy meeting. In chatting with her, I learned that she had been afraid to ride buses until she took a class at Sacramento State on alternative modes of transportation. The class apparently included tips and tricks for riding buses. For instance, she learned it is faster to go downtown and then out again than it is to try to go across town.

The lady is still not at ease on the buses, especially at night. When the No. 30 finally arrived we boarded and she told the driver she wanted to get off at 29th Street.

This was one of the older buses where the driver has to call out the stops, and this was a driver who didn't feel that calling out the stops was necessary. I could see that with each passing stop, the lady was getting more nervous. Finally, she moved to the front of the bus and sat across from the driver.

"It's hard to see the intersections after it's dark," she told the driver. She then reminded him that she wanted to get off at 29th Street.

In the back of the bus, reading my book, I have never cared if the driver called out stops. Now I better understand why it is not just nice but necessary.

The driver stopped at the lady's stop. She thanked the driver and got off. I continued on to Sac State, where I waited for my connecting bus home.

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