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, October 21, 2008

The Regional Transit rider motto

I admit it. I didn't believe I could count on a bus schedule with connection windows of less than 10 minutes. Not once, but twice the buses must run on time or I'll miss my final Amtrak connection.

So four days a week I board the bus and settle into a seat and read a book, each day growing more comfortable with the routine.

Oh, how I wish the return trip were as seamless. When the wife is available, she picks me up at the Amtrak station. That pretty much wipes out the gasoline savings from taking the bus to Amtrak in the morning. Still, we're managing to get by with just one car and that in itself is a significant savings.

My problem in the evening is that the trains and the J Street buses that could meet my No. 82 bus home start running on 30-minute schedules about the time I arrive on Amtrak from Oakland. If my morning connections are too close to be believed, my evening connections are too far apart to be tolerated.

So when the wife is not available my best option is to walk to where I can catch a Watt-1-80 bound train. If the Amtrak train is a little early, which does happen, I can catch a light rail train at St. Rose at 7:44 p.m. If Amtrak is on time or a little late, it's 8:14 before the next light rail ride. Worse, from the perspective of the wait, is having to watch the empty out-of-service trains roll by.

Once on light rail, I ride to the end of the line and then board the No. 1 bus. That's a fairly nice connection, as connections go, but the closest the No. 1 gets to my house is a little more than a half-mile. That walk wouldn't be too bad, except that the streets in that neighborhood have no sidewalks, which means walking in the street in the dark. It can be done, but only if it is the very last option.

Come to think of it, that could easily be the Sacramento Regional Transit rider's motto: It can be done, but only if it is the very last option. And with fare increases on the way, the picture is just going to get less appealing.

1 comment:

cindyn said...

I've been given my very last option: If I can't start catching a bus by 5 p.m. from 9th and J, or at least the convention center, I have to start driving again. And I love being a "transitarian." My husband says he wants me alive, and that's it's not safe being downtown alone in the dark, waiting for a bus. I've got the mile walk home also. Financially, my company offers free parking or free RT pass, but I love trying to do my part to lessen my carbon footprint and the downtown traffic congestion. If others would also, I wouldn't be the only one at the bus stop after 6 p.m.