Public transportation to DVC would benefit from revamp



John Kesler

Imagine a world where two similar people leave DVC to head to the same place. One person gets to the place in about fifteen minutes, the other in about an hour. This sounds crazy, right?

Well, stop imagining that world because I’m going to blow your mind: this isn’t science fiction, this is Planet Earth. Thanks to the local bus system, the County Connection, getting around has never been so inefficient and annoying.

For the record, I often find myself relying on the bus to get home from school, which means that I couldn’t boycott it as I would have to walk six miles. Not like it makes much of a time difference if I did. According to Google Maps, it would take around an hour and 50 minutes to walk from my house to DVC compared to around an hour and 20 minutes to use the bus.

One of the issues I have with the bus is that, while I can rely on it to always run, I cannot rely on it to run well. In my two years of riding the Number 20 bus, I’ve found the bus can often leave late and I can never predict exactly when it will arrive at the Concord BART station. Instead, I have to guess within a 10 minute window.

Perhaps it’s even worse if I have to go to a destination beyond the Concord BART station, such as my house. I’ve arranged to be picked up at BART because it’s much faster than waiting another 15 minutes for the bus to leave the station and head towards my house.

This definitely qualifies as a First World Problem, as a broken bus system is still more useful than no bus system at all. However, even developing countries have bus systems that should make the County Connection go to bed without any supper.

In an article for Reuters, Timothy Gardner mentions that 120 cities all over the world (such as Bogota, Jakarta, Los Angeles and Mexico City) have implemented bus rapid transit systems, or BRTs. The BRTs have their own lanes, load from the front and the back (unlike the County Connection which loads from the front), and has the passengers purchase their fares in advance at the station.

Now Pleasant Hill isn’t anywhere near as busy as Mexico City, but a few of the ideas are sound and could be implemented by the County Connection. The bus doesn’t need to have its own lane (and in New York City it doesn’t), but I feel as though purchasing fares in advance would considerably speed up the slow process of loading the bus, which I’ve seen take up to seven minutes.

Also, the County Connection could probably remove some stops from the system, which may make the bus move faster and could save money as the bus has to start and stop less. While this would negatively impact riders, I would be fine with this sacrifice. There is no reason for two bus stops around the 7/11 at the end of Golf Club Road.

Ultimately, no suburban public transit offering will be as quick, flexible and efficient as driving a car. However, that doesn’t mean the County Connection shouldn’t try harder to speed up. I’ll be happier if I get to where I’m going in 45 minutes instead of an hour and 15.