Looking Into Commuting By Bus   1 comment

The employee commuter survey that my company just put out served as a reminder that I wanted to try taking the bus to work from our new home. At our old house it was not possible. And now after a visit to the Sacramento Regional Transit website, I’m not sure it’ll ever happen at our new house either. Why do they even bother? Is public transportation in other cities in similarly bad shape?

Here’s my dream: Start the morning off with a nice quarter mile walk to the bus stop down the block. Have time to read or pray the rosary during a ride lasting not more than 25 minutes with not more than one transfer. Walk across the parking lot and into my office building. Repeat in reverse in the evening. This has been a dream of mine for about a decade now, since graduating from college. Back then, I had the best morning routine ever as I got dressed and ate breakfast at home and then prayed the rosary on my 10 minute walk to the bus stop and 10 minute bus trip to North Campus. Even during the cold Ann Arbor winters it felt so good for the soul to have that short (and brisk paced) morning walk. The reverse trip was a great decompressor, and offered quality “me” time without needing to resort to psychologically unproductive “veg in front of the TV” time.

OK. Now reality (based on the website, not personal experience).

The bus is EXPENSIVE! It’s $2.50 per trip, not including transfers. Since the route between my home and office requires at least one transfer, that’s a total of $10 per day at the basic single fare. The practical solution would be to purchase a daily pass for $6, and if I could ride the bus more than 16 days per month the $100 monthly pass would reduce the cost a bit more (down to around $3 day for a daily rider). But compare that with my current driving costs. A recent gas station receipt indicates that my fuel costs are $0.09/mile in the winter (the worst gas mileage season), so my 4 mile one-way commute costs me approximately $0.72/day for fuel only. Using the current federal auto reimbursement rate of $0.19/mile to account for maintenance as well brings the total cost of my commute to $1.52/day. (I don’t think the $0.51/mile business reimbursement rate applies since I pay registration and insurance whether or not I drive the car, but even at that rate it is $4.08/day). I’m not a mathematician, but $6 > $1.52! This may sound odd, but I don’t think I can AFFORD to take the bus to work.

This would be a rather stressful exercise consisting of watching the clock and standing, as opposed to sitting and reading. The bus that comes by my house runs ONCE AN HOUR and the bus that goes by my office runs twice an hour, so there’s no flexibility with time. According to the trip planner on the RT website the shortest possible commute time is 35 minutes if I bus to light rail (12 min), take light rail a couple stations (4 min wait, 4 min ride), and then bus to work (10 min wait, 5 min ride). If I just take the two buses it is 47 minutes, which consists of a 7 min ride, 30 min wait, and 10 min ride. Add walking time to and from the bus stops and my 10 minute driving commute turns into almost an hour-long transit commute.

Now I understand why the places that I’ve heard of having success with transit keep the fares super low, with lots of buses/shuttles/trains on frequent schedules, and restrict vehicle access from many areas (low fares x many riders equals more money than high fares x few riders). Those things have to happen first before people decide to use transit. Not the other way around. Transit is an essential part of healthy modern communities, but it has to make sense. Inconvenient expensive transit is just not going to gain ridership, and is therefore nothing but greenwashing for cities like Sacramento.


Posted February 3, 2011 by mayakey in conscious living, energy use, frugal living

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One response to “Looking Into Commuting By Bus

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  1. Pingback: A Prius Owner Happy To See The Yellow Stickers Go « Love Knowledge Zeal & Fortitude

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