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, March 28, 2008

The lucky lady

The call came about 5:40 p.m. It was the wife. She was breathless from the combination of walking and talking, but between gasps she managed to explain that she had decided to walk a longer, alternate way and meet her bus coming down a different street.

"I know it goes down this street," she said. "Well, I know it goes near here."

She was approaching the intersection of Disk and Data in Rancho Cordova, she explained. I looked at Google Maps and found the location. Zooming in, I located the bus stops. There wasn't one at that intersection going in the direction she wanted. She would have to walk up Data back to White Rock Road, essentially making a big U and circling back to the stop she usually used.

Once upon a time, I could click on the bus stop icon and up would pop the next time a bus was scheduled to stop. If several routes used that stop, each would be displayed. No more. This has been missing from Google Maps and Google Transit for more than a week.

I could tell which bus stopped there. I then took that info to and used the "Schedules" link to select the 74 route and determine when the next bus was due.

"You've missed your bus," I told the wife.

"What?" she gasped.

"It's 4:44 and the bus is due at White Rock at 4:44," I explained. "This bus runs only once an hour, so you'll have to cross White Rock and wait for the next No. 73."

"What?" she gasped.

"You are going to have to walk to ... "

"Hold on," she said and then for several seconds I heard the sound of rustling clothing and wind.

"Made it," she said.

"What?" I asked.

"The bus," she said. "It was turning onto to Data and I ran and made it in time."

The luck continues.

It was only after this that I remembered that RT's Infoweb offers "next bus" information. The problem is that you have to know the bus stop number and finding that when you are not standing next to the bus stop requires several extra steps.

Oh, well. Maybe Google Transit will bring back the "next stop" feature to the bus icons.

* * *

The wife's postscript: She wants a bus stop or two added somewhere on Data Drive near Disk. After all, she points out, there’s a whole new housing and retail development there, with stores open and homes occupied. Why isn’t there a stop there?

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