I worked from home for the first part of the day. I can access my work computer from home and do my job just as if I were at my office desk. The only difference is that someone has to walk the paperwork around.
At 12:30 p.m. I decided to take the bus in to the office. I was standing at the curb recognizing that the weather is going to be getting real warm real soon when the bus pulled to a stop and the doors opened.
I stepped aboard the bus, showed my pass and turned to find a seat.
I stopped and stared.
I've never seen so many people on the No. 82 bus. In the morning when I normally board -- 9 a.m. or 9:30 a.m. -- it's not unusual for me to be the only passenger for the next two stops. This bus route starts just a couple of miles away at American River College. On most days, there are maybe four passengers -- Sac State students and people headed to Wal-Mart on Watt.
Today was just incomprehensible. Two wheelchairs took up the front of the bus. That elminated seven seats, which made the bus look more crowded that it otherwise might have been. Even still, there was only one seat that didn't have at least one rider and nearly all of the seats had two riders.
I took the open seat and soon after a woman joined me. We kept stopping to let people off, but we were boarding more than were getting off. It wasn't long before we had people standing in the aisle.
Today, Sacramento Regional Transit posted a press release about increased ridership:
With gas prices at an all-time high, the Sacramento Regional Transit District (RT) is experiencing a dramatic surge in bus and light rail ridership. Overall system ridership has increased by 20.2 percent, compared to the same period last year.While this is all well and good, I'm concerned that RT's bus service continues to do poorly. RT reports that light rail now carries more passengers than RT's fleet of buses. While light rail ridership is up more than 43 percent over last year, bus ridership is up just 2.5 percent. Granted, that bus increase comes despite a 5 percent reduction in bus service, but clearly buses remain a poor cousin of a system focused on rail corridors.
RT is happy to announce, "The park-and-ride lots at the Historic Folsom, Iron Point, Glenn and Meadowview light rail stations are typically at capacity during the weekday commute." But if RT were really meeting the needs of these riders, they would be able to leave their cars at home, not at a park and ride lot.
Yes, parking and riding is better than driving all the way downtown. But commuters who find lots full end up driving anyway and pretty soon they give up trying at all. Clearly, leaving cars at home should be the goal. For that to be even be a remote goal, however, requires that RT offer better bus service.