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.