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

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The business of transit isn't business. Oh, well

Back on Oct. 13, I mentioned a late-night party bus service that takes customers from the Detroit suburbs to downtown nightspots. Wow, I thought, that would be a real boon to midtown nightlife.

Reader Mattie agreed (October 17, 2008 6:05 PM):

This is EXACTLY what I want! I have virtually no social life because there's no public transit after dark. A taxi is prohibitively expensive and my friends live too far away to pick me up. I'm sure I'm not the only one who'd take advantage of a late-night "club bus."

To which I responded (October 17, 2008 7:16 PM):
Send a note about this to Maybe someone will take note.

OK. That's not really likely. But if you don't let them know, you know they'll never think of it themselves.
And so Mattie sent off her letter to Sacramento Regional Transit. And low and behold she actually got a reply from Mark Bennett, an RT planner:
While your idea of the businesses’ benefitting from this service subsidizing its operation is quite possible, RT is precluded by Federal law from operating charter services. However, you may want to pursue this idea with the various associations of downtown and central city establishments who could hire a private bus company.
Let's assume for argument sake that there really is a law that prevents RT from operating charter services. That's certainly a law we could do without.


Ben said...

Hi - i don't have a comment about this particular post but I just found your blog and wanted to say that it is commendable how you manage to be car-free. I someday hope to get around that way. I was also wondering if you had any transit-riding advice: I'm 17 in West Hartford, CT. It's somewhat walkable with mild bus service, but my parents have chosen to live in a far-flung corner of the town with no sidewalks and far from bus stops. I may try biking soon, and if you had any other suggestions as to ways of relying less on the auto that would be great. Thanks a lot and keep at it, Transitarian!

John said...

Hi, Ben,

Biking is an excellent option when transit isn't available. Here is Sacramento, the land is flat and the weather mild. If it weren't for the traffic and narrow lanes in commercial zones this would be bike heaven.

I drive when I must, but I always combine errands into a single trip and try to group trips by location.

And when I am in an area with transit, I use it. Once upon a time, I would take my car to San Francisco and then drive around. Today I leave the car at home.

Brian Goldner said...

CSUS and UC Davis have "tipsy taxi" programs...oh and biking is totally great as long as you don't live north of the river (sorry john) where drivers are jerks and there are no bike lanes

John said...


Picking on the outlanders about bike lanes? Not fair. My street has huge bike lanes. OK. Yes, none of the major streets in my neighborhood have bike lanes and therefore I can't actually go anywhere on my bike lanes, but they do exist in theory -- as in, in theory I have bus service, too.

Anonymous said...

Yep, there really is such a law, part of the new federal regulations that went into effect this year. It's the reason, for example, why they started charging a buck each way (essentially the Central City fare) for the Raley Field shuttle bus to River Cats games after eight years of providing the service for free. Of course, running the 30 route a couple hours later each night would serve the purpose for the club circuit, wouldn't it?

John said...


How about a link to the legislation or some other way to research this? I'd like to see this law changed, but I can't do that without knowing exactly which law we're talking about.

Ray said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ray said...

John, if you'd like I can put you in contact with my buddy who work in scheduling at (Santa Clara) VTA. He can give you all the low down on the inane FTA regulations.

John said...


E-mail me the contact info or have your buddy contact me. The address is jlhughes AT gmail DOT com


Anonymous said...

Hard to find anything comprehensive on this matter at the Federal Transportation Administration website. However, this item from APTA provides a pretty decent overview.

With regard to the Raley Field shuttle, it was explained to me that the traditional arrangement had been a three-way split of the cost of the service among RT, the city and the River Cats, but that the new federal regulations no longer permitted this type of arrangement.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, it looks like my APTA link didn't translate well. Perhaps this will work.

Ray said...

I'm checking with him to make sure it's OK (I don't see why it wouldn't be).

Ray said...

Check your e-mail...