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, January 16, 2008

Sweet and sour transit

I had to work late tonight. I was tired, and it was cold as I waited for the outbound train. I wasn't in a pretty frame of mind when the train finally pulled into the 23rd Street station.

When the door to the car opened I realized I would have to wait for an elderly gentleman to negotiate the stairs before I could board. He moved in slow motion, a cane in one hand while gripping the stair rail with the other. His descent didn't reach the second stair before the doors started to close.

I jammed myself in the doorway to prevent the doors from closing, and a guy inside pushed the exit button. The combination of efforts managed to buy the old man enough time to get off.

I was hoping the driver was watching his mirror when I gave him a middle-finger salute as I boarded.

Really, there must be a better way to run a railroad.

My temper was still simmering when I left the train at 65th Street and walked to my No. 82 bus. The bus was parked with the door open and the motor running. Inside, were two women and a man. But no driver.

This made me smile. To understand why, you have to appreciate Sacramento Regional Transit's rules.

According to the RT spokesman who answers the mail at, "Bus operators are required to de-board all passengers, secure the vehicle, and shut the doors for any scheduled break."

And, sure enough, some drivers do this. More than once I've stood in the cold waiting for a driver to open up a bus. I wrote about my least favorite driver's predilections here.

So having a warm bus to wait in tonight made all the difference.

Some drivers are more equal than others -- despite RT.

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