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

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Getting there on the bus

Today I took the kid to his orthodontist appointment -- on the bus. The kid was not as excited as I was. After all, transitarian enthusiasm is so dorky, so unhip or so not whatever is the teen phrase of the day.

It helped, of course, that the kid is on spring break. That eliminated the need for the wife to rush the kid to the appointment and back to school before heading in the opposite direction to work.

This morning I was fairly lucky rolling him out of bed in time to be ready to walk out the door to meet the bus. That's one real problem when herding cats or a sullen teenager -- fixed schedules. The bus driver isn't going to stop outside your house and honk to hurry you up.

I'm working hard here trying to make this as big a deal as I can, but the whole trip was a lesson in the ease of using transit when it is available.

It's a straight (figuratively speaking) run on the No. 82 to Sac State and from there to midtown on the No. 30. We got off the bus at the western corner of Sutter's Fort and L Street. The kid walked a block and a half to his orthodontist's appointment while I walked 10 blocks to work. I was a half-block from my office when the kid called to say he had finished with his appointment.

The kid then walked to Starbucks on 19th and J, bought a coffee and waited for one of three different buses that make connections with the No. 82.

As the kid explained in a phone call to his mother when he got home, it was no big deal. He's taken the bus before.

But that bus ride will also most likely be the last he takes for some time. Thursday he takes his driving test, and once he passes he gets the car that's been garaged at home while I've been taking the bus. I'm hoping the price of gas will keep him close to home.

The realization that I won't have that extra car to fall back on when riding the bus isn't so convenient has been making me grumpy. Well, grumpier. I've gained a certain appreciation for the anger just under the surface of people who have no choice but to live with the lackluster level of transit service in Sacramento. It's one thing to be a choice rider; it's quite another to have no choice.


Jim U said...

Not necessarily. Contrary to popular belief, there is no rule that says one must stop taking the bus upon getting one's driver license. In my case--eons ago--I got my license reluctantly, but then seldom used it for years afterward. I had a bicycle and a bus pass, why did I need a car?

Perhaps the kid will continue riding the bus, since it's working so well. Except, of course, for those times when it's not practical.

- Jim U
Reno, NV

John said...

Yes, maybe, perhaps the car will stay in the garage. But that will more likely be the result of the kid's inability to get a job to pay for gas for the van than it will be because of lingering appreciation for alternative transportation.

Still, one can hope . . .