1. Riverside Transit Agency
Who: Riverside Transit Agency is the principal provider of bus service throughout Western Riverside County. It is a Joint Powers Agency supported by the county and several cities within said county, including Riverside. They are the principal subjects of this blog, though it doesn't seem like it at the moment.
What: RTA provides traditional local bus service, express bus service, the Trolley (50, 51, 52) shuttles, and dial-a-ride service for the disabled in cities (and for everyone in rural areas).
Where: Aside from their traditional service area (wherever you see one of those arrows that says "The Bus Stops Here"), you can also find RTA buses at the Village of Orange, Ontario Mills Mall, and the Montclair and Oceanside Transit Centers.
When: Routes operate on various schedules. In the city, most start between 4 and 6 am and end between 7 and 9 pm, with frequencies ranging from 20 minutes to an hour.
How Much: RTA cash fare is $1.25, with day passes $3.75. If you want to ride more than 3 buses in a day, get a day pass. CommuterLink express service is $2.25 (though day passes are still $3.75), and the 149 Orange County has its own fare structure. College students from UCR, RCC and (starting January 1st) La Sierra University ride free, as do City of Riverside and RTA employees, and there are discounts for seniors, the disabled, and K-12 students. Infants and toddlers are $0.25 each.
More Info: 1-800-800-7821 or www.riversidetransit.com
Who: The Southern California Regional Rail Authority, providing service as Metrolink, is an association of the five counties where it provides service: Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside. (Metrolink also provides service to Oceanside, which is in San Diego County, but SDC is not part of SCRRA.) They provide commuter train service throughout Southern California.
What: Commuter rail service, provided by large diesel locomotives primarily over freight railroads. Metrolink trains use tri-level coaches that are uniformly clean, comfortable, and provide on-board restrooms and drinking water.
Where: Pretty much anywhere throughout the Greater LA area west of Riverside, with the exception of the High Desert. There are two Metrolink stations here in Riverside, the Riverside-Downtown station (aka Marketplace Station) in, you guessed it, downtown, and the Riverside-La Sierra station, off of La Sierra Ave. and Indiana Ave. on the south side of the city. IE-OC, 91 and Riverside line trains serve Riverside-Downtown, where as La Sierra only sees the IE-OC and 91 lines. Riverside-Downtown also has limited San Bernardino line service on weekends.
When: The primary limitation of Metrolink service is its schedule. Service is mostly peak-time and peak direction, especially on the Riverside line. If you're heading west in the morning and east in the evening, you're good. Otherwise, you're probably grasping at straws. There is weekend service, but this is even more limited, and there is no late-night service.
How Much: Metrolink fares and passes vary based on distance traveled, and time purchased. One-way, round trip, 10-trip and monthly fares are available. The fare calculator is your friend. Discounts are available for seniors, youths (under 18), and the disabled. College discounts may be available- check with your campus parking office. Metrolink tickets are good as an "EZ Pass" in LA County, and are generally accepted for transfer with most connecting operators.
Another consideration on Metrolink is fare inspection. Metrolink operates on the "honor system," meaning that nobody checks your ticket at each boarding. Staff and LA County sheriffs randomly board and check everyone's ticket. Therefore, it is possible to travel on Metrolink without paying. Fare inspections, to be honest, are rare. However, if you're caught you'll be asked either to pay at your destination, or pay a hefty fine, depending on the mood of the inspector. I don't advocate fare evasion, but sometimes we've all faced being across the city with no money...
Edit: A commenter notes that he's experienced more regular fare inspection than I have. YMMV.
More Info:1-800-371-LINK or www.metrolinktrains.com
Who: A privately owned and operated subsidiary of Laidlaw, Greyhound operates intercity bus service throughout the US and Canada, with affiliates operating in Mexico.
What: Greyhound provides intercity bus service between terminals and bus stops across the country. While it may not be pleasant, it is an economical way to get from one city to another, and terminals are generally convenient to a city's downtown, which cannot be said of airports.
Where: Greyhound currently (11/19/08) operates from a terminal in downtown Riverside, adjacent to the RTA's downtown terminal. The City currently plans to force the closure of this terminal on January 31st of 2009. If this occurs, passengers may still board in San Bernardino. However, this blogger is attempting to fight the City's decision on this matter, and it is considered unresolved.
When: Bus service operates around the clock, but the station is staffed from 06:45 to 20:30. There are upwards of 20 departures daily, so check with Greyhound for times.
How Much: Fares are charged based on distance traveled, with discounts for seniors, the disabled, students with the Student Advantage card, and military personnel.
More Info: 1-800-231-2222 or www.greyhound.com
Who: Amtrak, otherwise known as the National Passenger Rail Corporation, is a private company wholly owned by the US government, and is in charge of maintaining passenger railway service throughout the country. Amtrak California is the name given to the partnership between NPRC and Caltrans for service within the state of California.
What: Amtrak operates one train daily in each direction , the Southwest Chief trains 3/4, serving Los Angeles/Albuquerque/Kansas City/Chicago and points between. Amtrak California Thruway Motorcoach service operates 4 buses daily, connecting with the San Joaquins in Bakersfield for service throughout California.
Where: Both the trains and buses serve the Riverside-Downtown Metrolink station, with trains boarding and alighting on the South platform. Note that, while the Thruway Motorcoach service does travel further south from Riverside (to Hemet or Indio), these buses are only available to passengers who have a train trip somewhere in their itinerary, hence the only destination available from Riverside is Bakersfield, and only if you are continuing your trip north on the San Joaquins from there.
When: The #3 heading towards LA rolls through at 05:53 if it's on time, and the #4 towards Chicago leaves at 20:03. Motorcoach service departs at 05:40, 08:55h, 10:55, and 13:40 and returns at 16:10, 17:50, 20:20, and 23:05.
How Much: Fares vary with distance traveled. Discounts available for seniors, the disabled, students with Student Advantage, youths under 15, AAA and NARP members. More discounts are available, check with Amtrak.
More Info:1-800-USA-RAIL or www.amtrak.com
Who: Omnitrans is the primary provider of bus service in the urban valley of San Bernardino County.
What: Aside from their extensive network of local buses, Omnitrans operates one express bus route, the 215, and it serves Riverside.
Where: Route 215 travels, as you might expect, along I-215 from RTA's Downtown Terminal to downtown San Bernardino, with an intermediate stop in Colton.
When: The route operates from 04:05 'till 22:30, with 30-45 minute frequency and limited weekend service.
How Much: Cash fare is $1.50. Day passes are $4. Valid RTA passes are good for one trip away from Riverside.
More Info: 1-800-966-6428 or www.omnitrans.org
Who: The Orange County Transportation Authority oversees not only bus service, but road and freeway construction and maintenance and Metrolink service within Orange County.
What: OCTA operates route 794 commuter express service to Costa Mesa. This route provides limited-stop peak-hour service to commuters, with tray tables and laptop power outlets available at every seat as part of the OCExpress program.
How Much: Cash fare is $3.75 Monthly passes are available for $128.00. OCTA and RTA local passes are good for $1.25 towards the fare. OCTA passes are not accepted on RTA.
More Info: (714)/(949) 636-RIDE or www.octa.net
7. Highlander Hauler
UPDATE: All Highlander Hauler service has been suspended. Alternate service is available on RTA routes 1, 16, 51 and 53.
So there ya go. All the transit companies that operate in our city. Now you can put all of these numbers in your cell phone. Life being what it is, however, I also suggest that you find a local cab company's number and store that as well. You never know. Good luck!