Substituting public transportation for private vehicles can cut down Marin’s carbon footprint, a local governmental panel believes.
Members of San Anselmo’s Quality of Life Commission came to that collective conclusion after individually riding buses as part of a recent experiment. Commissioners found the trips — in addition to saving gas and money — were relaxing, fun and a way to meet friendly drivers and passengers.
Lea Dutton, the panel’s secretary, originally proposed the test runs.
Youth Commissioner Maddison Brusman, a student at Drake High School, first took Golden Gate Transit bus No. 29 from San Anselmo’s hub to Fairfax “to eat lunch and work on a project.”
Buses, he determined, are a “win-win. I don’t have to drive, I don’t need to worry about gas, it’s dirt-cheap, there’s friendly service, there are routes to just about everywhere, it reduces traffic, and, most importantly, it cuts down on our carbon footprint.”
He was pleasantly shocked, he added, “that my cost of travel was only $1.”
Brusman said he plans “on utilizing public transportation much more frequently now, and would encourage others to make it a priority to do so as well.”
Commissioner Chantal Maher, who rode the opposite way — from Fairfax to San Anselmo — found the seats “all warm and cushiony, upholstered with a soft fabric cover.” And the vehicle, she noted, “was much more luxurious inside than the buses I remember riding back in Los Angeles, which were always stinky, overcrowded, loud and unpleasant.”
She was particularly impressed by the local buses having, above each seat, “a light and fan, jut like they have on airplanes.”
Commissioner Sita Khufu commented that she’d lived in Marin 25 years before taking a local bus. Then, because of the QOL panel’s experiment, she did — to Larkspur Landing, to catch a ferry to San Francisco.
“I was surprised and pleased,” she said, “that they held up the boat until everyone was able to board with their kids, bikes and coolers — and I was glad to see that they have special rates for disabled people, people on Medicare, children and commuters.”
She subsequently was happy to learn “that all buses kneel, are lift-equipped, and have tie-downs to secure wheelchairs.”
Dutton, meanwhile, took the No. 22 bus from San Anselmo to Sausalito. She discovered that although it was a little inconvenient, since it ran only once an hour, it still was “a great way to chat with friends, read or just watch the scenery along the way. It was also a great way to avoid the hassles of parking.”
Commissioner Jelani Bertoni determined that a bike ride or hike to Stinson Beach was less stressful because he knew “once you arrive at the coast you can hop onto the West Marin Stagecoach and get chauffeured right back to San Anselmo.”
The same was true, he said, when he biked with a buddy to Point Reyes. “Knowing we would be able to take the bus back gave us the confidence to meander all around the San Geronimo Valley [and] Samuel P. Taylor state park.”
Savannah Sanford, who recently finished her term as youth commissioner, rode into downtown San Rafael and “talked to a couple of other kids” who’d taken the same trip. They told her “it was great because they didn’t have to lay out gas money, didn’t have to wait for their parents to pick them up, and there were plenty of buses scheduled.”