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transit crazy: the $60 bus transfer from LA

By enelson
Tuesday, August 14th, 2007 at 8:08 pm in AC Transit, Buses, connectivity.

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Some people like BART. Some people like AC Transit buses. Some people like buses to the exclusion of rail. Still others hate rail and believe that urban bus transit the only way to know one’s true humanity.

Then there’s the guy that AC Transit director Chris Peeples turned me onto, a Cal Poly prof by the name of Ralph E. Shaffer who writes op-ed pieces for papers down south.

I couldn’t find the one that Peeples sent me via e-mail, but I’m guessing it’s going to run soon in the Daily News of LA, because he makes a reference to a paper of that name.

Anyway, he talks about a renaissance of bus companies in California:

Encouraged by government subsidizes  at the fare box, regional transportation districts have  sprouted up in recent years. Dozens of cities,  counties and special districts run buses. A careful  examination of their schedules reveals that an intrepid bus  rider could travel from the Mexican border to the Bay Area without having to take Greyhound, Amtrak, hail a  cab or fly.

He then goes on to explain how he has made a hobby of this that’s right up there with driving 50 mph on the freeway and drafting trucks in a subcompact to save gas:

Imagine, all the way to Oakland by municipal  bus. I’m a bus nut. In 1978, I pioneered the route  via local buses from Los Angeles to Tijuana, with a  dozen transfers over 12 hours, all for a mere $3 and  change about three cents a mile. In the mid-1980s, I rode  over 400 miles in one day around the L.A. Basin aboard  RTD buses on a dollar pass a quarter-cent per mile.

I must say, if you want to get to know, I mean, really know the San Joaqun Valley, this would be a way to do it. Personally, I think I’d work my way up to picking tomatoes before putting myself through such torture as Prof. Shaffer.

Wednesday we leave early for  Huron, make two transfers in Fresno, and reach the  Children’s Hospital in Madera County at lunchtime, then on  to Chowchilla for dinner. Day Four: Here’s where the  system really breaks down. Perhaps jealously guarding  their borders or reluctant to encourage residents to  shop in a rival city, Neither Madera nor Merced transit  systems cross the county line dividing them. Nor will  their dial-a-ride service take a passenger to the  border. Thus, after an overnight stay in Chowchilla, we  hoof it eight miles up Minturn Road to Le Grand, catch  the bus to Merced, transfer to Livingston, then Turlock,  then Modesto. (An alternate route, without that hike,  is only available in summer via Lancaster,  Ridgecrest, Mammoth, Tioga Pass and Merced.

Oy. It’s bad enough riding the Capitol Corridor with my chardonnay, Amtrak burrito and DVDs for 3 1/2 hours a day. I’m sure the professor will get a great book out of this, but as for me, I’ve got a 80 minutes of NPR to listen to on my car radio.

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One Response to “transit crazy: the $60 bus transfer from LA”

  1. Jason Says:

    Drafting trucks? I hear truckers get pretty mad about that.

    That said, wow. That’s quite a trek. My hat’s off to someone who actually embarks on a trip like that.

    I mean, I don’t know how many times I’ve planned out a trip via Amtrak from Oakland to Sacto for a Rivercats game (basically impossible because there’s no train back to the Bay late enough to stay for a whole night game), or a trip to San Jose via Caltrain, and then just not gone because it would be too much of a hassle. Plus neither train is as bike-friendly as BART or even AC Transit (but that’s another issue).

    “Hoof it eight miles” in the Central Valley? At least it’s first thing in the morning, before it gets really hot.

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