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

Monday, August 25, 2008

Back to school

You get a flavor of what living in a transit-friendly realm would be like when you ride to college classes. For a couple of years, I rode by Sacramento State on my way to midtown, joining the famously smart college students who realize that driving alone just isn't worth either the cost or the hassle. Now I'm going off in the other direction, to American River College once a week for a class in creating Flash animation.

The ride to ARC is ridiculously convenient. The campus is less than a mile from my house. If it were'nt for the sidewalkless and breathtakingly curvy Winding Way, I'd hike to school. Instead, I hop on the No. 82 and get off six minutes later across the street from the campus. It doesn't get any easier.

Today, I rode to school around 12:30 with a half-dozen other students. Two hours later, I rode home with a standing-room-only crowd. In between, I marveled at the sea of cars parked in the lots surrounding the campus. Hundreds and hundreds of cars. What a waste.

But, of course, this is hardly a transit-friendly realm. On Saturday, at around 1:30, I rode to ARC to buy my class books. Along the short route, I noticed people standing, waiting for the bus that would head back from ARC. On the weekend, the No. 82 runs just once an hour.

I arrived at ARC in time to make it to the book store before it closed at 2 p.m. I was back at the No. 82 bus stop by 2:10 p.m. All of the people I had passed on my way to ARC were still waiting for the return bus. I listened as a man shepherding three elementary-school-age kids praised the advantages of the shade and grass around the bus stop.

"Would you rather be on that hot sidewalk in the sun like we were before?" he asked the kids. No one wanted to be in the sun. But no one wanted to wait an hour between buses either.

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