Monday, December 29, 2008

Metrolink is a bad joke...

"Every five hours" does NOT count as a headway in any respectable urban rail system.

I got a bit of money over the course of the holidays, from generous family members, and my desktop has been without a video card for quite a while. Rather than order it on the interwebs, I figured I'd spend some time out at one of my favourite pillars of consumerism, Fry's Electronics in Anaheim. After-christmas sales tend to be good places for deals, especially in those old-fashioned brick-and-mortar stores, and if I can save a buck or three on shipping, why not? However, after a successful and nearly entirely transit-oriented holiday, I wasn't about to battle traffic on the CA-91 to get there. So I hopped on the RTA 149 express to Orange.

Did I mention that U-Pass has a warm, squishy place in my heart? While most pass holders have to pay an extra $1.65 to ride the 149, U-Pass riders still ride free. *purr*. But I digress.

Bought an OCTA pass, took a bus up to Fry's, found a video card (nVidia 9400GT for $70 w/ $20 rebate!), took a bus back down towards the mall, munched on some In-N-Out, and when I was all done it was 14:25. So I looked at the pack of schedules in my bag and determined that I could either take the Metrolink home at 16:02 or the 149 at 16:55. Beauty. I splurged a bit and treated myself to a slightly-more-expensive train ride home. After taking the bus back up to the Anaheim Canyon Metrolink, I got to enjoy an hour and a half of waiting on the platform until the train carried me away.

During the course of this hour-and-a-friggin'-half wait, it occurred to me that Metrolink is probably just a bad joke being perpetrated on the populous of Southern California. Now officially the deadliest rail system in the country this decade, when the trains aren't crashing into freighters they're usually just not on the tracks. On the IE-OC line, there are three trains in each direction on Saturdays, and two on Sundays. Combined with inter-county express bus service, which is notable only because of its absence, and you leave passengers waiting on hard metal benches for hours and, undoubtedly, in cars or stuck at home.

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