Placer County Transit sent out an extraordinary notice to its express bus customers recently. Unless riders had purchased commuter passes for Sacramento in the past three months, the notice said, they would be barred from purchasing them in the future. In other words Placer Transit – a public bus agency that operates in one of the most car-centered communities on the planet – had run out of seats on its buses.
Of course we can’t know for sure what filled up the buses all of a sudden, but we can guess: four dollar a gallon gasoline, the recession, a housing collapse – all come to mind. Whatever the reason, more Placer county residents want to ride buses to their jobs in Sacramento. That’s a good thing, something to be encouraged, for a lot of reasons: fewer cars on the roads helps clean the air, reduces congestion, and slows global warming.
The state saved the day. It found a pot of money to pay for an extra bus to accommodate Placer’s overload for the next two years. Good. But what happens when the two years are up, or even before, if demand for buses grows even stronger. Placer and the state need to start planning for that now.
Ginger Rutland writes for The Sacramento Bee opinion pages.