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, November 14, 2009

Moving On

When I stopped writing here, I promised several people I would alert them if I started writing somewhere else.

I've reactivated a dormant blog -- -- and converted it from a blog about my blog watching at into an old fashioned personal blog. You know, that type of blog that dominated before Twitter shrank the world of words to less than 140 characters.

I Tweet as IpsoSacto and blog as IpsoSacto.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Irony and hypocrisy

When I failed to write a blog post last week about Sacramento Regional Transit's decision to raid its workers' comp self-insurance pool in order to avoid service cuts in 2010, I knew the end of this blog had arrived.

Maybe so many things will happen with me and buses and trains that I'll have to rush back here and blog and blog and blog. But the reality is that I'm no longer "a suburban commuter [who] decides to give up the car and instead rely on Sacramento Regional Transit to get around."

When I was laid off a year ago, the daily commute disappeared too. For a few months I took the bus in the morning to get to Amtrak for a job in Oakland, but I had to rely on The Wife to take me home when I returned to town at night. Trying to rely on RT during non-peak hours was just too inconvenient. Then that job turned into part-time work I do from home and my bus riding stopped entirely.

Between June, when classes at American River College ended, and this month I've been without my "free" ride on the bus, which made me weigh the choice between a $6 daily pass or getting into the car and driving to get errands accomplished.

When I turned 18 I registered for the draft and applied for a conscientious objector deferment to avoid serving in the Vietnam War. I filled out forms and went around gathering witnesses who could testify to the sincerity of my beliefs. While I was waiting for the response from the draft board a friend told me about a job opening where he worked. Starting pay was twice the minimum wage. So I joined my friend on an assembly line in the San Fernando Valley, and each day I considered the irony of the conscientious objector earning his daily bread manufacturing the warhead for the M72 LAW anti-tank weapon. A year later, when my draft number came in so low I was certain to be drafted before the end of the year, I realized it wasn't irony but hypocrisy I was demonstrating at work. I dropped the conscientious objector claim and instead avoided the Army by enlisting in the Navy.

I'm reminded of that story each day as I drive around Sacramento. While I may oppose the war driving when a bus is available, I'm just not willing to give up the job the convenience.

Now that the new school year is about to start at American River College I have my "free" ride again. I'll take the bus when time isn't a factor. I can ride with The Wife, who continues to commute daily on the bus and light rail.

I just can't claim to be a conscientious objector transitarian.

Here's RT's press release: RT Avoids Service Reductions Proposed for January 2010 - Additional Internal Savings Cover $2.4 Million Budget Shortfall

Monday, July 27, 2009

Why free parking is just not affordable any more

Perhaps what I had to say had some influence. But the only thing going for my point is the desperate position the Sacramento Regional Transit District finds itself in.

My topic was the pilot program that will require a $1 fee to use the RT parking lots at the Watt/I-80, Watt West and Roseville Road light rail stations, the final lots on the Blue Line.

Letting anyone park for free is just not fair. Subsidizing commuters who drive to ride light rail wasn't fair in April, when the board failed to break a tie, killing a staff proposal to institute parking fees at all RT lots. And under the district's new "no transfer" fare system, free parking is now doubly unfair.

Here's what I tried to explain in my three minutes before the board Monday.

The new fair structure will work like this: A person who takes a bus to light rail, will pay $5 for a one-way trip. A person who drives to the RT lot and catches the same train, will pay just $2.50.

The roundtrip charge for the park-and-ride user is $5.

The roundtrip charge for the person who leaves a car at home and takes the bus is $10. Since a daily pass, which allows unlimited rides for a calendar day, is just $6, that's what the district expects to collect from those people who either choose not to drive or can't drive.

So RT will be paying people to drive to the lots in order to save a buck.

Most of Monday's meeting was taken up with a public hearing on proposed service reductions. Ten percent of the system was targeted, including elimination of train service after 9 p.m.

Nothing will be finalized until next month, when the staff will present the board with its interpretation of the direction it received Monday. And that meeting will likely turn into a bargaining session like last month, where board members will trade someone else's service in order to protect the service of a constituent.

Parking just can't be free when cuts as deep as have been proposed are on the table. Yes, charging for parking may move people into neighboring streets or into commercial parking lots to avoid the fee. But the district can't let scofflaws be the deciding factor here.

Do Don Nottoli and the other board members so adamant about not charging for parking appreciate the alternative? Is it possible for someone who doesn't ride transit, who already sees Sacramento's system as inadequate for their transportation needs, to appreciate why charging for parking at every lot must come first before any cuts in service?

I made my pitch to the board. The board unanimously ignored me.

Steve Cohn offered that the parking fee proposal might come back before the board. I think I'd buy a lottery ticket before I'd bet that this board can find a majority of votes needed to charge for parking. I'd certainly have more chance with the lottery.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

From bad to worse: RT just can't get a break

What's Sacramento Regional Transit to do? There's just no good news. That at least is the conclusion to be drawn from the agenda package for Monday's board of director's meeting.

General Manger Mike Wiley tries to paint a rosy tint on his Key Performance Report to the board.

"Despite the economic challenges imposed by declining tax revenues and state budget cuts to public transit funding, the District's financial statistic report closing out fiscal year 2009 is positive ($6.6M*)," Wiley says.

Yes, but...

Take away the largess of the Obama administration and Congress' efforts to stimulate the economy -- $8 million more than RT had counted on in its budget -- and that $6.6 million evaporates. (Read the full Key Performance Report)

As it is, the preliminary year-end report for 2009 has the district less than $700,000 in the black.

The district management managed to save nearly $2.2 million by trimming expenses from the 2009 budget and the federal government tossed in nearly $7.5 million more than the budget anticipated, but that only slowed the hemorrhaging.

Despite rate hikes in January, fare revenues were down $4.25 million below the budgeted target. And then there was the $4.1 million loss of local sales tax revenue.

And now we learn that matters are getting worse.

The 2010 budget adopted last month was balanced in part with the promise that service would be cut in January enough to save another $1.1 million.

"Since the FY 2010 Operating Budget was adopted on June 22, 2009, economic conditions have worsened," RoseMary Covington, the assistant general manager for planning and transit system development, explains in an issue paper prepared for Monday's meeting.

"RT has been notified that the Sacramento Transportation Authority will reduce its FY 2010 sales tax based, Measure A, projection by 3%," Covington reports. "This will reduce expected RT revenue from this source by $932,000. In addition, SACOG staff has advised there will be a further reduction in RT's Local Transportation Fund (LTF) allocation of approximately $1.5 million, also due to the decline in expected sales tax revenue."

The district had hoped that recently adopted federal legislation allowing transit agencies to redirect 10 percent of their stimulus money to operating expenses would help, but that won't be enough.

"Current estimates indicate that in addition to the $1 million in January service cuts already factored into the FY 2010 Adopted Operating Budget, an additional $1.4 million must be found in order to re-balance the budget," Covington reports.

Covington anticipates that staff can back fill some of that $2.4 million shortfall with cost reductions, but at least $1.4 million in service reductions will still be necessary.

"Since January is half-way point of the fiscal year, in order to realize $1.4 million in savings, it is necessary to make service reductions amounting to $2.8 million on an annual basis," Covington explains.

For anyone who is unfamiliar with RT's efforts to cope with the economic downturn and the outright theft from the state, I suggest reading "Attachment 2" from Covington's report. "Sacramento Regional Transit District Actions To Meet State Budget Revenue Shortfalls" itemizes the more than 30 steps taken since 2008.

The question of which combination of route elimination, reduction and realignment will balance the budget will be the subject of discussion at Monday's meeting. Here's a link to the staff's preferred option.

"Based upon the public comments, further direction from the Board, and any changes to RT's funding situation, staff will return to the Board for final approval on August 24, 2009," Covington said.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Riding shotgun on the morning commute

I suppose these things happen when you have been married for nearly 20 years. Sometimes you just miss the meaning of what you hear.

The Wife walked up behind me while I was working in my office last night.

"Are you doing anything special tomorrow morning?" she asked.

I admit that I immediately considered this a trick question along the lines of "Does this dress make me look fat?" What sort of special activities can a guy who works from home claim?

I told her, No. Nothing special. Just the usual.

"I thought maybe you'd like to ride downtown with me tomorrow," she said. "You could walk down to Starbucks at 16th Street and hang out."

"Sure. Yes. Well, maybe. I guess so," I said. I really was trying to get some work done.

Later that evening the wife mentioned that someone (for those reading who are not married, that translate as "You need to") needed to fax some documents to the insurance company so we could be reimbursed for a scooter The Kid used when his leg was broken.

"OK," I said. "Why don't I ride the bus in the morning with you and then get off at Morse and Arden. I can walk across the street to the OfficeMax and fax the documents from there."

I was quite pleased with myself for combining two Honey-Do tasks in a single trip.

The almost explosive you-don't-really-love-me response to that suggestion was the first clue I had that perhaps I had been clueless to what had prompted The Wife's invitation to ride with her to work.

"I don't want you to go with me," she said, and stormed off.

Ever notice how words echo when you are in the doghouse? The effect is disconcerting. You are trying to sort out what you missed, and it gets all muddled.

Eventually I wheedled out of the wife the source of her disappointment.

Normally The Wife works in Rancho Cordova. I drive her to a bus stop about two miles from our house. From there she rides to the Starfire light rail station. She then takes the train to Mather and from there rides another bus to work. It's a ridiculously convoluted arrangement, but The Wife dislikes driving enough to accept the inconvenience.

But this week The Wife is working downtown, which makes it possible for her to ride the No. 82, which stops less than 100 yards from our front door. She can transfer at CSUS to the No. 30 and arrive across the street from her destination. It's a nearly perfect commute. Nearly.

Tuesday, The Wife had been on the No. 82 minding her own business, trying to read when a guy sat down in front of her and turned around and said, "Namaste."

The Wife was wearing a brightly colored dress and a beautiful scarf around her shoulders. The guy apparently confused her for someone from the Indian subcontinent.

He repeated "Namaste," obviously expecting this exotic creature to respond in kind, but The Wife, who is half Japanese and half European mutt, just smiled.

Failing to get satisfaction, the guy turned his attention to a pair of Muslim women across the aisle, trying out an Arabic greeting. He didn't have much better luck.

Then a guy who looked to be in his 20s took the seat across from The Wife. He sat sideways in the seat with his legs in the aisle and stared at her. She tried to ignore him. He didn't say anything. He just stared.

The Wife swears she will never wear that colorful dress to work again.

When The Wife got off the bus at CSUS, the guy got off too. The Wife went over to a bench to wait for the No. 30 and the guy followed. When the No. 30 arrived The Wife boarded and took a seat. The guy boarded and again sat across from her, facing the aisle, and stared.

The Wife was about to get up and go sit closer to the driver when the guy left the bus.

"Yes, buses are like that," I responded when the wife first told me of her adventure on the bus, recalling the guy who chases co-eds.

By the time later that night that The Wife asked that I ride to work with her today, I had completely forgotten about her day's commute.

The palm of my hand slapping my forehead when I realized my error made an appropriately empty sound.

So today the wife dressed in less colorful clothes, and I rode with her on the No. 82 and then the No. 30. She sat by the window and I sat on the aisle. Not a single annoying rider appeared during the entire trip.

When we arrived at her office I kissed her goodbye and walked on to the Starbucks at 16th and P streets. I had a coffee and yogurt, did some work and then went back to my "office."

They wife thinks she'll ride to work by herself tomorrow.

Wanted: Transit Operator Awards -- and cup holders -- and bag holders!!

Here's a guest post from the wife

I meant to write the other day, about the driver of the 73 bus that picked me up on the way to Mather Mills Station one late afternoon last week. It was about 5:45 pm, the next stop on Data Drive was a timed stop, and we waited a couple minutes.

It worked perfectly for the driver, who got up and calmly strode to the back of the bus. There was a woman who had been yapping loudly about something with her boyfriend and the f-words were flying. I think there were a couple other people on the bus.

The driver was a tall, older black gentleman with a touch of gray and a ton of dignity; lean and straight as an arrow, to borrow a cliche. Quietly, slowly, he asked the woman where her stop was. Startled yapping, impudent, belligerent yapping. The rest of us peered intently at whatever was at hand. The driver - soft-spoken, but as firm as, well, a minister - asked her again where she was getting off. He did not need to say any more. The woman's tone changed. She well knew that the driver could simply put her off the bus, and she backed down, half-apologetically. We continued on our way in quiet.

I could hear the couple mumble and the boyfriend ask if she wanted him to "take care of him." But the woman said no because she needed the ride; she needed to be able to ride the bus.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. I tried to give the driver my most sincerely grateful "Thank You" as I left the bus at Mather.

Bless this driver and nominate him for Driver of the Month or Sustained Career Excellence, or something! He was not just having a good day. This gentleman has control of his route and we riders feel much safer that way.

I am impressed with drivers everyday and I see a lot of regulars who have a great relationship with the bus drivers. Even though society is going through some very hard times, it's all the more reason to recognize and reward excellence in service and performance.

Please actively promote driver recognition. As with other government workers, transit employees serve the public and the public needs to appreciate the workers and services a little more.

Now, I admit it's a little harder to get up close and friendly with the train operators. But I notice that the people who use the ramp tend to be regulars and can get to know the drivers if they choose.

After that bus ride, I got on the Sac Valley Station Train and at the Butterfield stop, a woman's voice, the train operator's, boomed over the PA: "The young man who got off of car 2 and got on car 3 - put your shirt on."

Thank you, again, RT, for these conscientious employees who keep transit comfortable and safe, as much as they can.

Monday morning, the 82 was stopped in the left turn lane at the intersection of Watt and Whitney. I looked up from my book hearing the driver talking to someone through the open door. She was talking to the driver of the car in the next lane. I don't know how he got her attention, but he said he was on his way to the stop and she was early. She said, "No, I'm on time, but don't worry, I'll wait for you." He said he was told 7:33 and she said cheerfully, "Yes, it's 7:32 and I should be there right at 7:33, but don't worry, I'll wait for you."

We waited as the man drove through the parking lot of the strip mall, parked under a bit of shade, and hobbled onto the bus with a cane.

Our drivers will stop and wait if they see you waving or running. I am quite sure they do not do that in SF or NY.

Next thing - cup holders AND bag holders on the bus! Under every window, a cup holder with a hook on the bottom for one's purse, shopping bag, etc. Yes!

Next - have a drawing once a month for a free monthly pass! Everyone who buys a monthly enters their pass number on the RT site with name, address, etc., and once a month someone gets a free pass. Market this with the cup holder for the commuters. How about a year's pass for $950?

Next - I was on a bus where a 30-something man rested his foot on the seat across the isle. OK, call me prissy, but I do not like people resting their shoes and sandles on the upholstery. It's bad enough that you have to look carefully at the seats to ascertain whether a spot is new or old. I was disappointed that the driver did not ask the man to remove his foot from the seat. I know my gentleman driver in Rancho would.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

RT-Key Performance -- Dismal

On Monday evening, General Manager Mike Wiley volunteered to skip his monthly Key Performance Report to make time for the crowds who wanted to rail against proposed fare hikes and service cuts. He was most likely happy to avoid the onerous task of delivering still another report about declining ridership and fare income falling short of expectations.

In May, the district experienced a double-digit decline in system ridership, the second month in a row of negative growth. And for the second month in a row, fare revenue was under budget, which has exacerbated the district's financial situation.

The report Wiley wrote but didn't deliver at the meeting attempts to put a smiley face on May's bad news by pointing out that systemwide ridership remains up 4.74 percent higher than last year. Conveniently ignored is the fact that in April that same statistic was 7.15 percent and in March it was 8.51 percent. At this rate, it won't take long for this statistic to go negative.

April's total ridership was down 3.62 percent. May's total ridership dropped a whopping 15.2 percent, with bus ridership falling 13.3 percent and rail ridership declining 17 percent.

"Last year's escalated fuel prices helped boost RT's ridership significantly and this year, the impact of a higher [un]employment rate and furloughs are finally impacting transit ridership," Wiley said in the report.

But that drop in ridership and the impact furloughs have had on state worker buying patterns has exacerbated the district's budget troubles. Fare recovery in May was below the district's goal by 2.1 percent.

"In the month of May," Wiley said, "RT's fare revenue was under budget by $755,000."

This follows April's fare recovery shortfall of $596,000.

Wiley continues to say the district could still meet or exceed the district's annual fare revenue goal. But that may be just wishful thinking.

Fare increases will arrive in September. But will they, like the fare hikes that took effect in January, fall short of raising the amount of money the staff predicts?

Before RT has a chance to answer that question, the staff will be back before the board in July to discuss service reductions that would take effect in January.

Yes, getting to skip that report was a thin silver lining to a dark and stormy night.

June 22 (May) Key Performance Report
June 8 (April) Key Performance Report
May 11 (March) Key Performance Report

Monday, June 22, 2009

Squawks and tweets

Sacramento Regional Transit's board of directors tinkered around the edges of a staff-proposed solution to the district's budget mess, but in the end accepted that fares had to be increased and services reduced. Only directors Roger Dickinson and Steve Cohn balked.

In September, the basic fare will increase from $2.25 to $2.50 and the discount fare paid by students and seniors from $1.10 to $1.25. Gone will be the central city fare, the shuttle service fare and the discount shuttle service fare. Basically, there will be just two fares -- full and discount -- and you'll have to pay that fare each time you board a bus or light rail train. The 50 cent transfer fee (25 cents for students and seniors) will be no more.

The result of these changes could have the odd of effect of increasing ridership, or at least increasing the number of trips by the riders who don't just get back into their personal autos. That's because the daily pass, which will remain at its current $6, will become an instant bargain for anyone making a roundtrip that requires a transfer. Forced to buy a daily pass, you may decide to take advantage of the "free" ride for the rest of the day.

Where the board balked at the staff's proposal was on the topic of limiting Paratransit monthly passes and taking back the lifetime free ride granted to people over 75 years old.

The staff proposed both increasing the Paratransit monthly pass from $100 to $125 and limiting the number of rides that could be taken in the month to just 15 roundtrips. Nearly all of the people who came to address the board during the public hearing were concerned with Paratransit, and the biggest complaint was the limit on the number of rides that could be taken.

Early on in the hearing, the board members indicated it was unlikely they would go along with staff on that idea, or with the idea of taking away the "lifetime" free rides the district had granted to seniors over 75 years old, but the staff had made it clear that any change in the fare proposal had to be covered by reduction in service worth the same amount of money.

That led to some old-fashioned horse trading. Director Bonnie Pannell wanted to save weekend service for her district's No. 54 and 65 lines by instead cutting the No. 63 route in half. The 63 will now connect with light rail, and riders who used to ride the 63 to City College will take the train instead.

In order to protect existing "lifetime" riders, the board dedicated the remainder of the savings from the No. 63, cut the No. 83 from half-hour to hourly service and threw in the potential revenue from an as-yet-to-be-approved parking fee at Watt/I-80, Watt West and Roseville Road.

The idea of dumping the staff's proposal to limit use of Paratransit monthly passes proved easier to deal with when the staff admitted that the 30-ride limit didn't have an associated cash savings value. Therefore, nothing had to be cut to cover the change.

This is not the last that will be heard on this topic. In late July, the staff will be back with a second round of service cuts. The question of how much will depend on whether the budget outlook improves. One possible source of funding may come from the Iraq War funding bill. That bill, oddly enough, includes a provision that would allow transit districts to use as much as 10 percent of their stimulus funds (RT will receive $14 million) for operating expenses. General Manager Mike Wiley said that if the president signs the bill, the money could be a significant help.

Below is my Twitter reporting from the meeting.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Balancing RT -- fares vs. service cuts

Sacramento Regional Transit's board will be asked Monday to decide whether to adopt a larger fare increase than originally proposed last month in order to accept a smaller reduction in bus service. But that won't be the end of the discussion. The staff has asked the board to hold a hearing next month to plan for the service cuts that will be necessary in January if the district's budget picture doesn't improve.

"Given the uncertainty and potential severity of January service changes, staff intends to notice all routes for elimination, so as to allow contingency planning with maximum flexibility," the staff report says.

RT had originally proposed to raise $1.8 million through fare increases and $2.2 million through service cuts to balance the 2010 budget. Monday, the board will consider $3.3 million in fare increases and just $700,000 in service cuts.

The basic fare will rise from $2.25 to $2.50 and the discount fare for students and the elderly to $1.25. The Paratransit single fare will increase to $5 and the monthly Paratransit pass to $125. More important, the monthly Paratransit pass will only be good for 30 trips.

The biggest hit will be taken by those people who rely on transfers. Today, if you must transfer from one bus to another to complete your trip or from a bus to a train, the transfer is an additional 50 cents. After Sept. 1, there will be no transfer discount. Each time you board a transit vehicle you will pay the full fare.

Some solace can be taken from the fact that RT is proposing to leave the daily pass fare at $6. Anyone who needs to board a vehicle three or more times in the course of a roundtrip will want to buy a daily pass.

The monthly passes and various stickers will remain at their current prices. The exception is the "Lifetime Pass" that allowed people 75 and older to ride free. That's gone. Those riders are back on the senior discount.

Here's the PowerPoint to be shown at the board meeting:

(Read the full budget and fare issue paper here)

In exchange for this larger fare increase, the service reductions have been reduced from the original 36 lines to just 11.
  • 5 - Meadowview-Valley Hi - Sundays/Holidays - Eliminate.
  • 36 - Folsom - Weekdays - Decrease service frequency from 30 minutes to 60 minutes.
  • 37 - Tahoe Park - 21st Avenue - Weekdays - Eliminate; Route 8 provides alternative service.
  • 54 - Center Parkway - Saturdays - Eliminate; Route 56 provides alternative service.
  • 65 - Franklin South - Saturdays - Eliminate.
  • 73 - White Rock - Saturdays - Eliminate.
  • 75 - Mather Field - Saturdays - Eliminate the 6:40 p.m. and 7:25 p.m. trips.
  • 140 - Ziggurat - Downtown - Weekdays - Eliminate; Yolobus Route 40 provides alternative service.
  • 141 - 3rd/16th Streets - Weekdays - Reduce to peak only service with 30-minute frequency.
  • 142 - 9th/10th Streets - Weekdays - Reduce to peak only service with 30-minute frequency.
  • 212 - 14th Avenue - 21st Avenue - Weekdays - Extend route south to serve segment of Route 37 from 21st Avenue and Bradford Drive, south on Bradford Drive, east on Vandenberg Drive, south on 79th Street, west on 39th Avenue, south on Wilkinson Street, west on Lemon Hill Avenue, and south on Logan Street to Stallings Drive
The board will also hear a proposal for a pilot program to test charging $1 a day for parking at light rail park and ride lots beginning in January. The unlucky guinea pigs will be customers of the Watt/I-80, Watt West and Roseville Roads stations. Security guards will be the primary enforcers. The pilot program will cost about $30,500 to implement. New stations could be brought into the program for $5,000 each. RT estimates that the Watt/I80, Watt West and Roseville Road lots could generate $300,993 in annual revenue. (Read the staff proposal)

The question of further service changes in January would come before the board July 27. While it is possible that a go, no-go decision by the board could be postponed until late September, the size and shape of the service reductions must be completed by Aug. 24 in order to accommodate preparing the schedule in September and driver bidding for routes in October.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Comparing futures


Board of Directors Expected to Approve Fare Increases and Service Reductions Proposed for September 2009

If you don't know what's coming, read the press release or this post or this post or this post or this post. It's endless. And it is depressing.

And it is in that context that RT's invitation for people to Provide your Final Comments on RT's TransitAction Plan! this Thursday is just so ... well, pathetic.

Join RT's General Manager and Planning team who will discuss the draft TransitAction Plan. Review maps and information specific to your community and provide your final comments on this new vision for transit in the Sacramento region.
  • DATE: Thursday, June 18, 2009
  • TIME: 5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
  • LOCATION: Tsakopoulos Library Galleria, 829 I Street, Sacramento (East meeting room)

Industrial Workers of the World organizer Joe Hill coined a phrase that fits
Sacramento Regional Transit's vision for the future: pie in the sky.
You will eat, bye and bye,
In that glorious land above the sky;
Work and pray, live on hay,
You'll get pie in the sky when you die.
We'll get TransitAction, alright -- in heaven after we die.

Now I have to explain. What's really, really bothering me is that no one, except maybe the staff at RT -- not the board, no way, but maybe some of the staff -- believe in transit's value. To appreciate what believing in transit means and requires, look at China:
Beijing will transform into a "public transport city" by 2015. In peak hours, the minimum departure interval for subway trains will be shortened to 2 minutes; the waiting time at bus stops will be reduced to 3 to 5 minutes; public transport will account for 45 percent of the journeys in downtown areas. (See this story)
Now I'm old enough to remember the wild promises of the former Soviet Union and the failures of that corrupt command economy. So maybe there's more than a hint of totalitarian hyperbole in the forecasts. Still, China is aiming for this in five years, not 25 years.

RT's TransitAction is service cuts and fare increases and pie in the sky, bye and bye.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Second Saturday on the bus

It's been awhile. It was nice. Well, it was a little scary on the way home, but, hey, as I told our friends, it's just something you sign up for when you become a transitarian.

The wife and I made a date with friends to meet at Chicago Fire Pizza in Midtown tonight at 5 p.m. We boarded the No. 82 for the ride to Sacramento State, where we caught the No. 30 to Midtown. Just like old times. I miss my old commute.

I also miss the free ride I get for taking a class or two at American River College. The student pass ends in May and the next one won't be available until after Aug. 5. I bought a daily pass, although that was gift of 50 cents to RT. The fare each way was $2.75.

I took my Kindle and the wife read her book. It sure beat dealing with traffic or looking for parking in Midtown.

At Chicago Fire our table of four ended up between two separate large CSUS graduation parties. Needless to say we had to wait until after dinner to chat.

We love the crowds and enjoyed walking around, but as 8 p.m. approached I was worried that our blue and gold carriage would turn into a pumpkin before we made it home. When I looked at the schedule for our return trip I figured the No. 30 leaving Midtown just before 8 p.m. would have plenty of time to meet the No. 82 leaving SacState at 8:18. Of course, I completely forgot about the traffic on J Street on Second Saturday. As the wife and I waited for the bus I kept looking in the distance for a sign of the bus and then at the clock on my cellphone. If we miss the No. 82 at 8:18, I explained to our friends, it will be 9:18 before the next No. 82 leaves SacState. They offered to give us a ride home, but the wife explained that there was no need. This is just what you do when you rely on the bus. We at least volunteer. For a lot of others, it's just how it is.

The bus finally arrived about 10 minutes late. We said our goodbyes and boarded. I asked the driver if he could get the No.82 to wait for us. I've been in the position before and I've had the driver call dispatch and send word to the other bus to wait. But this driver figured there was a chance he might actually get to SacState on time and -- thanks to a masterful job of catching a series of yellow lights and the good fortune of having just a couple of people to pick up or drop off -- we made it there with a minute or two to spare.

On the ride home from SacState, the wife and I took a seat near the front and went back to reading. A half-hour later I was engrossed in my Kindle when a woman got up from her seat and walked over and asked in accented English, "Where did you get that hat?" I was wearing my Ubuntu Linux hat and I told her I bought it online at the Ubuntu shop. I explained that Ubuntu was a variety of Linux, an operating system. I was about to explain the difference between Linux and Windows when the wife interrupted my geek babble to explain to the woman that it was something to do with computers. She smiled and explained that she was Zulu and was surprised to see my hat. "It means ..." she paused to translate and then said, "Humanity" and smiled. "Yes," I agreed, and smiled in return. I wanted to tell her Ubuntu's slogan is "Linux for human beings," but figured that probably wasn't going to be helpful.

The woman went back to her seat and a couple of stops later left the bus. Riding on, heading for home, I considered what a surprise it must have been for a Zulu woman riding a bus in Sacramento to come across a guy with a hat emblazoned with "Humanity" on his head.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

RT Needs A Music Video

Sacramento has talent. There's no reason why someone here couldn't create a nifty music video singing the praises of Sacramento Regional Transit like this one created by fans of BART.

Then again, we're talking about Sacramento Regional Transit. (Sigh.) Maybe a quick effort before the cuts arrive in September?

(For more about the video, see this post)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Distasteful jobs

I'm not going to be attending Monday's Sacramento Regional Transit board meeting. At about 6 p.m. I'm going to be doing the work required prior to having a colonoscopy Tuesday morning. I'm not sure who will have the more distasteful job Monday evening, me or RT's staff.

General Manager Mike Wiley will report to the board that total ridership in April declined for the first time since last November. Ridership in April was down 3.62 percent compared with April of last year. The number of riders was also down when compared with March. The rolling year total -- May 2008 to April 2009 vs. May 2007 to April 2008 -- shows the district still 7.34 percent higher than the comparison 12 months.

Bus ridership in April was down for the third consecutive month, falling 2.29 percent in comparison with April 2008. The rolling year total shows bus ridership just 3.33 percent higher than the previous 12 months. Will these numbers fall of a cliff after September's service cuts?

While light rail ridership showed a slight increase from March to April, the total April ridership was 4.84 percent below the April 2008 total. The rolling year total shows light rail ridership up 11.57 percent.

More troubling, at least as far as budgeting for the coming year, is the fare recovery figures. While the district did 3 percent better in April, the 24.5 percent fare recovery was below the 26 percent goal for the year. The year-to-date rate is just 24.4 percent.

Wiley's April Key Performance Report puts the district operating revenue $4.2 million under budget. The fare revenue in April was $596,000 below budget targets and nearly $2.1 million below targets for the fiscal year. And fares are only part of the problem. The district budgeted $6.1 million in local subsidy funds -- i.e. sales tax revenue -- and received just 2.78 million. For the year, local subsidy funds are running $2.16 million below budget. The Total Fiscal Result: The district was $4.98 million in the hole as of April.

RT says the hole is too deep to fill by simply cutting expenses. As a result, some combination of services cuts and fare increases will be required.

On the agenda Monday will be the question of whether to set in motion a second fare increase this year. RT is proposing raising single fares by 25 cents to $2.50 and daily passes by 50 cents to $6.50. The "discount" fare would rise 15 cents to $1.25. RT is also considering either eliminating the free ride that people 75 years old and older receive or changing the qualification to 85 years old. RT would also either eliminate or increase the price of Paratransit monthly passes. Paratransit has suggested a third alternative: Limiting the total number of rides that the monthly pass would cover.

(Click to view readable size image) (View Staff Report)

RT has said it wants to limit service cuts as much as possible, but Monday night will see the first hearing on cuts that would eliminate nearly 10 percent of bus service. Here's the preferred choice, still painful but limited to routes that have alternatives for current riders:
(Click to view readable size image) (View Staff Report)

These changes would go into effect Sept. 6. But if the 2010 fiscal year budget still looks like it isn't out of the red, RT will begin looking at something from this below list for implementation in January 2010:

Friday, May 29, 2009

The art of pruning transit services

On May 11, Sacramento Regional Transit's board of directors set in motion the machinery required to reduce service levels. The first look at what that machine has wrought will come Monday at the board's executive committee meeting.

The staff operate under ground rules established by the board back on Aug. 29, 2001. Bus routes have to meet certain criteria and those that fall below the standard are subject to remedial action.

Those rules worked well enough during service reductions mapped out in 2006 and 2008, but not this year.

"Using the 2001 Guidelines as the strategy for recommending reductions at this time would affect routes which currently maintain a relatively healthy ridership base, while preserving other routes that have low performance but are within their group averages," the staff explain in an issue paper. "This could leave some areas of higher ridership without access to service."

So instead of taking a chain saw and lopping off whole limbs from the tree of service, and perhaps threatening the tree's survival, the staff has set about with pruning sheers. It is deeply regrettable that any cuts are necessary, but clearly thoughtful pruning is to be preferred to the alternative.

The proposed service cuts have been split into two blocks. The first would take effect Sept. 6. The second in January. Whether the January cuts would be necessary would depend upon the state of the budget in September.

The staff's pruning has targeted for the first round of cuts those low-performing routes where alternative service is available. In addition, reducing service on routes rather than eliminating them and modifying routes to minimize the impact of changes are also guiding the pruning shears.

Even with the use of shears rather than chain saws, the preferred option would cut nearly 10 percent of bus service and displace roughly 40 drivers. An estimated 800,000 annual passengers would be affected.

Here's the proposal. Click to enlarge. Pay attention to the notes.

Eliminating the No. 9 community shuttle on Walnut Avenue in Carmichael and modifying the No. 82 to cover much of that route on every other trip will leave me with hourly bus service since I live inside the area likely to be skipped in order to cover Walnut.

The elimination of the No. 73 in Rancho Cordova will discomfort the wife's already uncomfortable bus to light rail to bus to work and back daily commute. Instead of having a choice of overlapping hourly buses -- in effect a bus every half-hour -- she'll have just one chance each hour to make her connection.

If, in September, it looks like more cuts will be needed, RT may have to pick up that chain saw and whack evening or late night and weekend bus and rail service. Alternatively, or maybe even in addition, the community bus service and the express routes could disappear.

Or maybe the board can break that 50-50 tie and finally start charging for parking. Third time's the charm, as they say.

Here's the full issue paper

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sacramento Regional Transit's budget woes

In January 2008, Sacramento Regional Transit cut bus service 5 percent in order to balance the 2008 fiscal year budget. To balance the 2009 budget, RT eliminated the free rides for Paratransit-qualified riders, raised the price of monthly passes from $85 to $100, daily passes from $5 to $6 and single fares from $2 to $2.25.

Now for 2010, RT is again standing in a budget hole looking for a way out.

Monday evening, RT staff will present its proposals for balancing the coming year's budget and get some direction from the district's Executive Board Committee on whether any of these ideas will fly when the issue gets a public hearing before the full board on June 8.

The fare increases that took effect in January aren't generating as much cash as staff had hoped. It is now estimated that fare revenues have fallen $2.6 million below the levels anticipated when the fare increases were adopted. Fare revenue in 2010 could be as much as $3 million below earlier projections.

The decline in RT's share of Measure A sales tax revenues combined with the fare shortfalls has dug a $9.0 million hole in the coming 2010 budget.

What to do? Fare hikes and other potential changes are in the works, including the possible elimination of the lifetime pass, the free ride RT offers to residents who are age 75 and older.

First the handicapped and now the elderly. Children next?

Actually, RT hasn't given up its efforts to balance the budget on the backs of the handicapped. Staff are suggesting that the monthly Paratransit pass either be eliminated or the cost significantly hiked. Staff point out that the Paratransit monthly pass is not required by federal ADA regulations. And in the 18 years that the Paratransit monthly pass has been offered, there has been just one price increase – from $80 to $100 in 2003. During the same period, the single Paratransit fare has risen from $1 to $4.50. It's no wonder sales of monthly Paratransit passes have quadrupled since 2003.

I admit it's a cheap shot to suggest RT is picking on the handicapped and the elderly. None of RT's riders will be spared as staff look for ways to fill the budget hole. Well, that's not completely true either. Staff haven't tried to resurrect the twice-rejected parking fee proposal. But everyone else will have to contribute if RT is going to balance its budget.

Staff are proposing single fares increase from $2.25 to $2.50 and the discount fare from $1.10 to $1.25. The daily pass would go to $6.50. Only the monthly pass would remain unchanged. RT wants to encourage riders who stopped buying the monthly pass after this year's price increase to start buying the monthly passes again.

But even those fare increases won't be enough to cover the 2010 shortfall. RT estimates $7.2 million in service reductions and other cost-containment options – a continuing hiring freeze and no wage or benefit cost increases in pending union contracts – will still be necessary.

The service cuts proposal deserves a separate discussion. Staff are proposing some interesting choices for the board.

Here's the staff budget report to the board

Monday, May 18, 2009

Clean energy without transit? Craziness in Washington

Limousine liberal ... is a pejorative North American political term used to illustrate perceived hypocrisy by a political liberal of upper class or upper middle class status, such as calling for the use of mass transit while frequently using limousines or private jets...
So that's what I think best explains what's going on in Washington, D.C., right now.

Last week, Rep. Henry Waxman introduced H.R. 2454, the “American Clean Energy and Security Act.” As William Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association points out, the bill provides investment and transition assistance to numerous private industries but ignores public transit.

As Millar points out:
"Public transportation use last year prevented the emission of more than 37 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide. Those emissions savings are equivalent to the electricity used by 4.9 million households. Our nation’s transportation system produces one-third of all carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the U.S., and transportation is the fastest growing domestic source of greenhouse gas emissions, yet public transportation receives zero allowance value in ACESA.

In contrast, the electricity sector will receive up to 35 percent of ACESA annual allowances.

Public transportation use in America saves 4.2 billion gallons of fuel each year and helps Americans reduce their commuting costs by escaping the high costs of gasoline and car ownership. In fact, riding public transportation can save an individual an average of $8,691 a year based on recent average gas and parking prices, yet public transportation receives zero allowance value in ACESA.

In contrast, oil refineries will receive up to 2 percent of ACESA annual allowances.

Expanding public transportation is a proven strategy to make our transportation system more efficient and our roads less congested. Transit use saves more than 541 million hours in travel time and hundreds of millions of gallons of gasoline by preventing congestion each year. According to the Center for Clean Air Policy, growth in vehicle travel will negate much of the emission savings from improved vehicle economy and new fuels. Even with a fully electrified transportation system, public transportation will be needed to fight congestion and expand mobility, yet public transportation receives zero allowance value in ACESA.

In contrast, the automotive industry will receive up to 3 percent of ACESA annual allowances to develop advanced automobile technologies."
This is just too dumb to believe. Waxman's committee is in the process of marking up this bill. APTA is encouraging its members to contact their representatives. Everyone should do so.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Going down the spiraling road of bus service cuts

Without a word of discussion, the Sacramento Regional Transit District board Monday evening unanimously approved a staff request to start the process required to cut bus service. Thirty-six weekday, Saturday and Sunday routes face reduction, realignment or elimination. The first round of bus service cuts could begin as soon as Sept. 6, followed by a second round Jan. 3, 2010.

The consent calendar item seeking board approval for the public hearing on the service cuts didn't even merit a separate vote.

This is the same board that couldn't find a majority to support charging suburban drive-and-park light rail commuters for parking, but it's unanimously in favor of discussing, and most likely approving, significant bus service cuts.

The first service cut hearing will be held June 8. On June 22, the board will be asked to adopt specific changes. At that June 22 meeting, the board will be asked to set a hearing for the January 2010 bus service cuts. That hearing would be held July 27 and the changes would go to the board for adoption on Aug. 24.

On July 10, the district would take the September changes to its union, the Amalgamated Transit Union. On Oct. 2, the January changes would be delivered to the ATU.

The first cuts would take effect Sept. 6 and the second round on Jan. 3.

(For specifics on the routes in danger go back to this post or read this staff report.)

The district doesn't want for customers, just money. At the board meeting, General Manager Mike Wiley announced that systemwide ridership was up 3.51 percent in March over March of last year, and light rail ridership was up 13.48 percent. The wet blanket was bus ridership, which increased over February but fell 5.05 percent below the heights of ridership last year in March.

Looking at 12-month rolling year comparisons -- April 2008 to March 2009 compared with April 2007 to March 2008 -- overall ridership is up 9.4 percent, rail is up 15.5 percent and bus ridership is 3.5 percent higher.

On average more people now ride the trains each month than take the bus, and that is significant for the district because it costs just $2.85 per passenger for train riders, while average cost for bus riders is $4.90.

Wily explained to the board that the increases in year-to-date ridership was likely to level out or even decline in coming months. Last year at this time was when gas prices started to shoot up and the Interstate 5 rebuilding disrupted normal commute patterns. RT even did a little marketing that Wiley credited with increasing ridership.

None of those incentives to ride transit exist today, and the two-edged sword of the economic downturn -- an incentive to save money by taking transit balanced against the loss of sales tax revenue caused by the weak economy -- is bleeding RT more than helping.

Here's the complete March 2009 Key Performance Report from tonight's agenda package.

Sacramento Regional Transit staff proposing service cuts

The Sacramento Regional Transit District board will decide tonight whether to schedule a hearing June 8 that could lead to bus service reductions across the city as soon as Sept. 6.

"State funding in the Public Transportation Account (PTA) has been reduced, and RT's State Transit Assistance (STA) share of funding has declined to zero beginning in Fiscal Year 2010. This will continue into future years. At the same time, Local Transportation Funds and Measure A funding have also declined due to the reduction in sales tax receipts. RT's revenues have therefore been reduced substantially in the Fiscal Year 2009 and Fiscal Year 2010 preliminary budgets, meaning that RT may no longer be able to provide the same level of service as in Fiscal Year 2008."
On the block are 18 weekday routes, 12 Saturday routes, six Sunday and holiday routes and four supplemental routes.

These routes do not meet productivity standards. The standards are based on boardings per revenue hour. A route that's below 70 percent of peer routes is considered failing.

And that's not the worst of it:
"Due to the severity of the budget situation, staff is preparing to make an additional service reduction in January 2010 as well."
Weekday routes on the chopping block this year:


Saturday routes:


Sunday routes:


Supplemental routes:


The agenda item from tonight's meeting is available here.

Video inspiration

"Built to Last" examines the impact of our built environment on the natural environment. This video was the winner of the Congress for New Urbanism CNU17 video contest.

The filmmaker's website.

Alert! A look at RT operations

I'm a great fan of Sacramento Regional Transit's efforts to alert riders to system outages or other disruptions. You can subscribe to the news feed and see all of the alerts, or you can sign up for individualized email. (See my earlier explanation.)

These alerts are only available currently for the "Neighborhood Ride" service. The alerts obviously won't be really useful until the system is expanded to cover all bus and rail routes. Still you learn a lot about the system, the district's priorities and stuff RT probably wouldn't brag about.

For example, read between the lines of this alert:

Sacramento Regional Transit

May 11, 2009 12:14 PM

Route 10 is going to be canceled from 4:46 pm to 7:20 pm due to operator availability. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Can you imagine a light rail route cancelled for the entire evening commute because the operator called in sick?

TransitAction on the dog and pony circuit

Sacramento Regional Transit is taking an abbreviated version of its TransitAction dog and pony show on the road again. Click on the image to see the schedule. RT's 30-year plan for the future of transit in the community will be on the agenda of several community groups. These meetings will be more convenient for working transit users, with evening meetings all starting at 7 p.m. RT's earlier effort at scheduling the full dog and pony show had problems.

The first meeting is tonight at 7 p.m. at the Neighborhood Services Community Partnership Meeting (Council Districts 1,2 and 3) at Joe Mims, Jr. Hagginwood Community Center 3271 Marysville Boulevard, Sacramento.

Friday, May 8, 2009

New starts and Sacramento's south line extension

The Annual Report on Funding Recommendations by the secretary of transportation was released today and it includes good news for Sacramento Regional Transit.

The Federal Transit Administration has identified Sacramento's south line extension from Meadowview to Cosumnes River College as one of five projects recommended for Full Funding Grant Agreements and Early System Work Agreements in the 2010 fiscal year.

California: Sacramento South Corridor Phase 2
The Sacramento Regional Transit District (RT) is proposing to implement an extension of its existing South Corridor light rail transit (LRT) line from its current terminus at Meadowview Road south and east to Cosumnes River College (CRC), near the intersection of State Highway 99 and Calvine Road. The four-station, 4.3-mile project would operate in an exclusive, primarily at-grade right-of-way requiring six street crossings along the alignment. The proposed extension will use existing RT vehicles and operate on 10-minute peak-period frequencies. Approximately 2,700 park-and-ride spaces would be constructed at three of the four proposed stations as part of the project.

The capital cost for the project is $270.00 million, with a proposed New Starts share of $135.00 million, or 50 percent. Congress has appropriated $11.34 million for the project through FY 2009. FTA recommends $40.00 million of New Starts funding for the project in FY 2010.
Here's the description of the South Corridor Phase 2 from the Annual Report on Funding Recommendations

The race for the cure from the bus

Here's another invitation to help the wife raise money for breast cancer research. The two of us will be walking in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure this Saturday.

Last year, the wife endured 16 weeks of chemo, then two surgeries, and finally seven weeks of daily radiation therapy. If it were not for the deadly consequences of doing nothing, one could make a reasonable case that for breast cancer, the cure is worse than the disease.

The wife is back on the bus and working, and now she wants to help others by raising money for breast cancer research.

To help the wife with a donation, click here.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A tiny idea with big problems

Of all the wrong ways to solve our traffic problems, putting twice as many cars on our highways certainly sounds the most wrong.

You can read more about this at I'm all for electric cars, but this idea needs more thought:
The Tango's ability to maneuver through traffic is second to none. Like a motorcycle, it can change lanes to gain advantage in traffic better than any car in history. Unlike a motorcycle, it is safe, dry, climate controlled, and can securely carry a reasonable amount of cargo. Where lane splitting is permitted (i.e., driving between lanes of stopped or slow-moving traffic), such as California, Europe, and Asia, the advantage can be staggering. In extremely heavy traffic, a Tango or motorcycle can travel in 20 seconds the distance that cars travel in 20 minutes.
I can just see the suburban moms in their SUVs squashing these things like bugs in June.

Worse yet is the suggestion that a sea of these cars running in 6-foot half-lanes "can make the traffic jam a fading memory."

Bus drivers (not) doing the right thing

As I mentioned the other day (really, go see for yourself here), the wife is back riding the bus after taking a break from relying on Sacramento Regional Transit while she coped with the even more annoying task of battling breast cancer. High-fives all around for the wife surviving cancer treatment and not losing her desire to ride the bus and the train and the bus and walk to work and walk back to the bus to the train to the bus to home all the while leaving her car at home.

Anyway, as you might imagine, a person of such strong fiber has rather high expectations when it comes to bus drivers. Here's a little tale from the little lady:

I began riding the bus and train to work in March of 2008, suspending my commute in August to start medical treatment and resuming almost exactly a year later, with Spring blooming and a "new lease on life."

During my previous fling with transit I did not find much to remark upon - probably a good thing, except that I still feel bus drivers should get monthly recognition for good passenger service (and we need cup holders on the bus!). Good service includes ensuring that the elderly and others who have challenges can ride the bus in reasonable convenience and comfort. That didn't happen the other day, to RT's shame.

Some drivers are quiet and formal, others are relaxed and sociable. Either way is fine. What's important is to feel that your driver is competent, alert, in control of the bus. You want to feel confident that the driver will enforce rules, and not allow misconduct. That's one advantage over light rail. On the train, the driver is detached, remote; you're on your own. But at least it does have that ramp, and people know to leave the seating area behind the driver at the front of the train free and clear.

There are occasions when I or other passengers will gratefully sink into the only empty seat in the front of the bus. But I, and most people, reseat ourselves immediately when an elderly or disabled person or someone with a shopping cart or baby cart gets on.

So I was aghast and outraged the other day when a small, elderly woman with three grocery bags got on the bus as three young students sat glued to the seats reserved for seniors, and the driver did nothing. The woman had to squeeze herself and her three bags into the window side of another seat around a very large and uncooperative woman who appeared offended that she had to accommodate this woman and her bags.

Now, I won't mention the young woman in the single seat behind the driver, intently reading her book and looking up defiantly as passengers boarded. A mother with a baby carrier, a stroller, and a bag got on the bus. She wasn't disabled, but she may as well be if she has to travel with all that gear -- it's hard enough with a car. I doubt she was one of those "choice" riders out for jaunt to Nordstrom. That seat behind the driver would have been a practical and considerate convenience. Instead, she was able to sit next to an accommodating lady (facing the sullen girl) so that she could park her stroller and hold the carrier in her lap.

I figured even though the girl was crass, the mom was reasonably situated. The large lady was large enough to need the disabled space in front, so I couldn't fault her for sitting there, although she could have been less belligerent.

However, on the front bench facing the driver appeared to be two college students, one girl with cropped hair and lip piercings, a young man of moderate dress; that is to say, not in baggy pants and various hats and bandannas, but jeans and shirt and jacket: clean cut. They smirked as the little old lady, about 4' 10", struggled to get around the large woman and situate her three bags. She was obviously an immigrant, powerless and mute: stockings rolled up to her knees, kerchief around her white wispy hair. (Most elderly Americans who ride the bus wouldn't think twice about kicking someone out of their area, and vocally.)

I waited for the driver to turn around and instruct the students to move. After all, there were plenty of empty seats towards the back of the bus. The signs say the area is reserved for seniors and the disabled, right? Isn't the driver the captain of his ship? Isn't he there to ensure that passengers conform to basic rules of conduct on the bus, for the convenience of all?

I stared at the driver, then at the students, then at the old lady, and the mom, and back to the driver, and out the window; contemplating my cowardice. In a younger day, I would have said something to the kids, or gone up to the driver and asked him why he didn't make the young people move.

Now I'm like most people, worn down and nonconfrontational.

But I can still let RT know this driver was wrong and offensive. It's another reason why people don't ride the bus. My thought as a passenger is that if someone is bothering me or otherwise offending society, this driver is going to be a lump and do nothing.

I hope I never see that again.

(The bus was the #84 that stopped at Folsom and LaRiviera at 6:20 pm,
Monday evening, April 27.)
We'll give the wife a pass on not knowing her bus number. It was actually the No. 80. She takes the No. 84 in the morning. The two hourly buses covering different areas of North Highlands overlap to provide half-hour service between Watt/I-80 and Watt/Manlove.