Thursday, January 22, 2009

Rapid Bus? Update

In an earlier post, I bemoaned the proposed waste of stimulus dollars on so-called rapid transit initiatives. Desperate to fill space, the local fishwrap published my letter to the editor on the same subject (scroll about halfway down to read it).

So I gave public transportation a try anyway, with my youngest (online handle: mew2ds); recently riding the so called "express bus" downtown, making one transfer to get to his school. He will be sans transportation next semester, as Mrs. Daddy goes back to school herself, so this was a test run to see if the public transportation system was a viable alternative. It was, barely. I'm hoping this motivates him to get and keep his license his senior year, right now, he just has the permit.

So we carefully plotted out the whole route, careful to give ourselves an 18 minute cushion. It is about three blocks to our initial bus stop, not too bad; but being lazy, we caught a ride anyway. No need, because our bus was eight minutes late. Not to worry, right, we're on the express bus. My first gaffe was committed as I boarded the bus; I forgot about that whole exact change thing; so I ended up donating ten bucks to the city coffers of "Enron by the Bay."

View Larger Map

As we debarked at our downtown transfer, (bus 50 to bus 3, Fifth and Broadway, if you zoom in you can see the bus stops), we saw our #3 bus pulling away. Our eight minute cushion for the transfer had evaporated. Not to worry, the 120 bus also goes north on Fifth, however, when it pulled up, we noticed the warning: LTD STOPS, which we took to mean limited stops. Maybe a bad idea to hop on we thought. We ended up waiting a little beyond the advertised fifteen minutes for the next #3 bus. Finally, we were dropped right by the school, exactly ten minutes late for school. All told, an 11 minute car ride turned into a one hour public transportation adventure.

Some observations; the buses were clean and appeared well maintained; not so all of the riders, there were a plethora of new scents. Also, our bus was crowded for most of the trip. Downtown is filled with both business people and employees hustling to work and sketchy characters, just hustling, or not.

A 7 mile, 11 minute trip that would cost me $1.50 in gas in the Civic (based on the round trip) was $10 and one hour on the bus. To be fair, the student monthly pass will be $34 and theoretically could be used for 20 round trips per month, but still, there would not be much savings. For frequent flyers(?), the bus pass is certainly the way to go, but having to budget an hour of your life, two if you took the bus home, certainly explains why everyone who can afford to, takes their car.


  1. Yes, but that hour was spent mingling with the community, something that should encourage you to embrace diversity and organize said community.

    You're just not trying, dude.

  2. Dude, impressive to take that journey.


  3. Guessing there aren't any classmates in the area he can catch a ride with, if he chips in some gas money?

  4. Foxfier,
    Thanks for the suggestion, but car pooling really isn't an option. I actually think this will all work out.

  5. Yeah, I'm a ranch kid-- I know it's not usually possible in cities-- but I had to ask. ^.^