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, February 8, 2008

Books and buses

It's 7:40 p.m. on a Friday night. I'm waiting for an outbound train that is supposed to arrive at 7:41 p.m. The question occurs to me: Am I the only person in the world who is happy to have an hour-long ride home in which to read and unwind?

This seems odd. Certainly it is at odds with the every-second-is-precious philosophy that consumes most commuters. I could drive to work and forgo the books. It's not like crowded highways are an issue in Sacramento when I go to work at 11 a.m. or travel home after 7 p.m..

No, it's the books. I crave the reading time, and I just don't have the discipline to set aside the time to read at home.

Tonight I didn't even mind -- well, OK, just a little -- when I arrived at 65th Street and realized I had been blocked into an extra 15-minute wait for the next No. 82 bus. I sat down at the base of a street light and read my book. The bus arrived 10 minutes early, and the driver allowed me and two other passengers to wait inside while he went off somewhere.

Dog-tired from the grind my job has become, seated in a warm, well-lit bus, the ride home reading my book was just fine with me.


Gabby said...

I just started riding the buses this week from Natomas to Davis for school do you got any tips for transit newbies? One thing I think I definatly learned on my own is that the Yolo buses are always 10 min. late and to plan accordingly.

John said...

I've never used Yolo Bus, but I would recommend NOT counting on the buses being late. That's an invitation to disappointment.

Again, I don't know if Yolo Bus operates under the same rules, but RT buses are allowed to be as much as three minutes early to an “approximate arrival time point." However, each route has several timing points, and at those the bus is not allowed to leave before the time specified. Obviously, the best deal is to use a timing point or a stop just after a timing point. At a stop before a timing point, I would want to arrive five minutes early.

But of course if the bus is always late ...

I'm curious: Do you use a Sacramento Regional Transit monthly pass on the Yolo Bus or a student ID? I've heard that RT passes are valid on all regional transit services, including the Yolo Bus, but, again, I haven't given it a test.

Gabby said...

I meant I have to count on the yolo bus being late when catching the Sacramento buses or light rail after it.

The first day I planned for everything to be relatively on time so that I would have 5 minutes between when the yolo bus was supposed to drop me off and when I need to catch the next bus. The Yolo bus ended up being 20 minutes late however and I had to wait till the next sac bus came around. Getting places on time has actually been my biggest problem so far when trying to use the buses. I take classes at UC Davis and SCC so getting from one place to the other on time works on paper but when the buses are consistently late it makes it hard.

I use the Sac RT pass on the Yolo bus with a Yolo express sticker since I take the express in the morning. I think it’s an extra .50 cents with no sticker to take the express but all the other buses will take the Sacramento RT monthly pass. You can get on the Unitrans in Davis as well with the Sacramento passes.

Anonymous said...

No, you're not alone. When I live in Sacramento eons ago, I used to LOVE the hour-plus commute time from Citrus Heights (on a route that no longer exists, I believe) to CSUS.

Nowadays, though, I live in a small town without much of a traffic problem, so it takes me ten minutes to drive to work: not even worth taking a bus.

- Jim U.
Reno, NV

John said...

[QUOTE]would have 5 minutes between when the yolo bus was supposed to drop me off and when I need to catch the next bus.[/QUOTE]

Ah, if only it were possible to rely on buses arriving within 5 minutes of their schedule. Sure it happens, but count on it? Never.

Frankly, relying on transit REQUIRES a certain fatalism, a willingness to lower one's expectations. Getting from point A to point B is a success. Getting from point A to point B within 10 minutes of the estimated arrival, a marvel.

If I am trying a new route, I give myself at least 30 minutes extra time, especially if it is important that I arrive on time. If I use the route repeatedly I gain some experience that lets me decide if I can take a later bus.

Since you have only been riding for a week, everything is new. What didn't work yesterday, might work tomorrow.

Making transit work for the individual is too much of a challenge, too often frustrating. You have to really want to do it to make it work. That's why people with a choice just give up.

In my dreams I imagine a transit service that tries to make its service a viable choice. But at least in RT's case, that's only in my dreams.

The Derek said...

I get all my reading for chool done on the light rail to and from school.

Friggin awesome :D