Public Transit

Dear J—

Before 1992, which is a twenty-five year anniversary we’ll be observing soon, public transit meant Bus 24 and Bus 8 from the Spokane Transit Authority; between the two of them you could get from the house to the store in about an hour, providing you had the right timing down. You’d have to hit a certain schedule based on how far you were (usually about a twenty-minute walk) and what time of day it was, but I remember well the transfer station in downtown Spokane and walking around the block to get to where 8-Altamont would take us to the store.

Public transit was a planned event, governed by schedule and exact fare (seventy-five cents in those days, perhaps eighty by the time I left Spokane in 1992). Then came the Bay Area and all the magical wonder of trains and schedule-free living. BART would reliably pick up every ten to fifteen minutes, regardless of where you were going and just showing up, knowing you had a ride in a few minutes was mind-blowing. Couple that with the double-decker Market Street Subway and that first trip I took, with the dorm to Haight-Ashbury (also checking out the girls to see if they were impressed by this country bumpkin) was beyond revelatory, even if BART still had those brown wool seats and the MUNI N-Judah ride was a transfer via the old paper tickets and Boeing Vertol cars.

Nowadays we’re jaded; we have Clipper Cards and never need to fumble for change, but I keep hoping the train will get beyond schedules, the last sticking point of a seamless commute. Someday, perhaps.

Mike

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