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

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Flying to the airshow on the bus

Riding the bus in Sacramento is sort of like living in a small town. You have your little mysteries and your neighbors and your adventures. Even on the weekend.

* * *

The woman set her purse and a package down on a seat and started rummaging for her student ID and money for the bus fare.

"Are you OK," the driver asked.

The woman looked up from her purse and asked, "Are you talking to me?"

"Yes," the driver said. "You have blood on your neck."

"Oh, that," the woman said as she walked back to the fare box. "That's from a long time ago. It's dry now."

She paid her fare and took a seat in the first row of the bus. As she walked toward me, I could see the dried blood on her neck. If she were a guy, I would assume she had nicked herself shaving.

She sat down and busied herself re-ordering her things.

The driver is a nice guy. His concern about an bloodied passenger is not unexpected. He's one of my favorite regular No. 82 drivers.

* * *

A young couple who regularly ride the No. 82 together boarded at the Watt and Chenu stop. They are twenty-something and quiet, but clearly attentive to each other. Today I looked to see if they wore wedding bands. I couldn't tell.

I don't know if the couple ride the bus because they enjoy the savings of not driving a car or ride because they have no choice. But they always appear to be enjoying themselves. They never seem disappointed that they have their time together on the bus.

* * *

The California Capital Airshow is perhaps the one thing everyone agrees Sacramento Regional Transit does well. At least in delivering people to the show.

I arrived at the 65th Street station and waited for the train. Normally on the weekend you would expect at most a two-car train. But today RT was running four cars on the Folsom/Sunrise line. And by the time we arrived at the Mather stop, all four cars were standing-room-only.

The light rail station was cordoned to guide arriving passengers to the buses they would ride to the airshow. I walked from the train right on to a bus. As we left the train station other buses pulled in. No one had more than a two or three minute wait to board a bus.

As we headed to the airshow, all of the intersections along the way had police controlling traffic to enable the buses to travel without delay. When the buses reached the outskirts of Mather Airfield, separate lanes were dedicated for the buses. We whizzed past long lines of traffic waiting to get into the show.

It would have been nice if something could have been done to reduce the long wait to leave. Perhaps having more than three buses board at a time. But the good feelings left over from the excellent arrival arrangement tempered any disppointment during the half-hour wait to board a bus.

* * *

And, of course, no weekend riding Sacramento Regional Transit is complete without the obligatory reminder that on the weekend you get half the bus service you get during the week, if it's available at all.

My No. 82, which runs on a half-hour schedule weekdays, runs just once an hour on the weekend. And that hour didn't align well with my return trip. But there was a bus waiting at the station that got me to within two miles of home, and I walked the final leg of the trip. I got home sooner than if I had waited 40 minutes for the next No. 82, and got some exercise to boot -- a transitarian success of sorts.

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