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Jump Aboard The CultureBus

September 17, 2008

By the end of this week, San Francisco culture vultures will have their own special mode of transportation to help them get around the city.

Starting on September 20, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's CultureBus will transport people to and from many of the city's main cultural institutions. For a flat fare of $7 for adults and $5 for seniors, youths and people with disabilities, the entirely new bus route (route 74X) gives customers unlimited access to CultureBus for the day.

The bus runs between downtown San Francisco to Golden Gate Park, stopping near various cultural institutions along the way, including the Asian Art Museum, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, the de Young Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Yerba Buena Neighborhood and the California Academy of Sciences, which reopens in Golden Gate Park on September 27.

The Culture Bus represents the first collaboration between the City and County of San Francisco, the SFMTA, the San Francisco Convention Visitors Bureau, the Yerba Buena Alliance and various cultural institutions.

I think the bus service is a terrific idea. Not only does it make ecological sense, but it also helps people save money that might otherwise be spent on expensive taxi cabs. Plus, being on a bus with fellow arts lovers is bound to inspire interesting arts-related conversations along the journey.

The only thing that disappoints me slightly about the service is its currently very limited hours. Excluding certain holidays, CultureBus will run approximately every 20 minutes, from 8:40 a.m. to 5:50 p.m. daily. This is fine for museum-goers, but what about people who want to take the bus to the opera, ballet or theater in the evening?

Of course, it's early days yet and the service is no doubt in embryonic stage. "At this time, CultureBus is designed to take locals and visitors to the various museums throughout the city," CultureBus' public relations manager, Kevin Kopjak, informed me when I quizzed him about the limited hours yesterday via email. "At the end of the first year, the results will be evaluated and plans to expand the program will be investigated. This would include looking into adding other cultural institutions, CultureBus stops and extended hours to the program." Hopefully CultureBus will take off and become the way to travel to all kinds of arts events in the not too distant future.

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