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Regional Transit bus tough bargain to beat

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Regional Transit bus tough bargain to beat

Riders on the Regional Transit District bus from Stockton to Manteca.

VINCE REMBULAT/The Bulletin


POSTED June 7, 2014 1:10 a.m.

For efficiency and bargain, the bus gets high marks.

A full one-day pass was $4 – nearly the current price for a gallon of gas – and my ride from Stockton to Manteca was clockwork.

Yes, I rode the bus to work on Friday.

I grew up taking the bus so I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to a day of bus hopping. But I also had to be fair to the folks at the San Joaquin Regional Transit District.

RTD offers a variety of services:

• Metro – Fixed routes in the Stockton Metropolitan area, including the Bus Rapid Transit.

• Intercity – Fixed routes, linking Stockton with Lodi, Tracy, Manteca, Ripon and Lathrop.

• San Joaquin Commuter – A subscription bus service that connects folks in San Joaquin County to Sacramento and the Bay Area, including BART.

• Hopper – A deviated fixed-route bus service connecting Ripon, Escalon, Manteca, Lathrop and French Camp to Stockton, Tracy and Lodi. The Metro Hopper has eight deviated fixed-routes to everywhere you may need to go.

• Dial-A-Ride – This curb-to-curb service is ideal for those with physical disabilities or unable to perform skills necessary to use the RTD fixed route services.

My morning hop took me on Metro from the University of the Pacific (my walk from home to there was exactly a half-mile).

I decided to travel light, bringing only a note pad, camera, pens, and cell phone sans the charger while coming in cold. By that, I knew only of the bus schedule but not the operating procedures such as using the self-service payment kiosk, for starters.

Sounds easy? It would’ve been if only the machine was operating properly. The padding on the keys was defaced. As my bus neared – the time was 6:35, as scheduled – I found myself frantically trying to get a pass from the payment kiosk but to no avail. Without needing much of an explanation, the driver simply waved me in.

Inside were a mother and her four children, a man crowding the aisle with a large plastic bag of recyclables, and another who may have played power forward for his basketball team. The kids played while the woman often uttered, “You stop that!”

We arrived at Downtown Transit Center shortly before 7 o’clock with enough time to not only purchase my day pass but await Bus 91 on the Intercity-fixed route to Manteca and Ripon.

Unbeknownst I was standing at the wrong depot at the transit hub. Fortunately, I saw Bus 91 along the side street only to disappear in the front of the RTD building at 421 E. Weber Ave.

The front entrance to the transit hub was where I caught the bus to Manteca. Ridership here was about nine people including an eighth-grade boy of the San Joaquin County Office of Education’s Excel Academy – this was his last day of school – and perhaps some wannabe rap artist. The latter talked nonstop during my 35-minute ride.

 But that’s what you get while riding the bus – an array of characters and plenty of fixed, gazed looks.

And right on time, Bus 91 pulled into the Manteca Transit Center at 7:49. My jaunt from there to the Manteca Bulletin office was about five minutes.

This was one of the few times I made to work before the start of our actual business hours. Give or take a few minutes.

For that, I have the RTD to thank.

Information on the San Joaquin Regional Transit District including plans for your next trip can be obtained by logging on to www.sanjoaquinrtd.com.

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