Light rail is great. Light rail is awful.
I commute to SN&R on light rail every day. I also take BART and Amtrak to the Bay Area instead of driving. And, when traveling overseas, I ride the Tube and TGVs and even those scary minibuses in North Africa (which often wind up roadside, engulfed in flames!). Mass transit is great. It can save our society. I'm a fan.
But something about public transit doesn't work in Sacramento.
Conveniently, this month is Regional Transit's official Ride Transit October campaign. There's a Twitter contest and giveaways (read more at www.sacrt.com) and even posters on light-rail trains urging riders to keep an eye out for RT general manager Mike Wiley, who will be on buses and trains all month long.
I've yet to bump into Wiley, but one of these days, I'll set up an official interview with the man. In the meantime, let's explore why more people don't ride light rail or the bus.
Consider my co-workers: There's an RT stop less than half-a-block from SN&R's headquarters. Of the employees here, at least 20 are fellow central-city dwellers and could easily ride RT but opt to drive.
No judging. But let's keep it real: These short-distance car rides are precisely the type of disposable trips society must eliminate to adapt to climate change.
Buuut: RT can be unpleasant. Want to take your bike on the train? Good luck with that during busy commutes. Can't pay $2.50? Sorry, no central-city fare discount—even if you're just going one stop. Drugs, poverty, uncleanliness, smartphone thieves—get used to it.
Light rail is relaxing and easy—remember, I'm a fan!—but sometimes it's awful.
Still, please join me (and Wiley!) and ride this month. We can talk about how to improve mass transit. It'll be a blast.
(Just keep your iPhone in your pocket.)