Well, the January edition of RTA's Ride Guide has been released, both on the web site and on board buses. Being the transit geek that I am, I'm always among the first to take a look at the book and see what's changed in my local transit system. This quarter's offerings are... disappointing. We all knew that some routes were losing service. The only route that serves Riverside proper that will be downgraded is the 206, which will no longer run on Saturdays. (On Saturdays, it terminated at Tyler Mall instead of the Corona Metrolink.) However, we lost route 39, formerly the Jurupa Shuttle, which was one of a small handful of services in the poorly-connected Jurupa Valley. Also, routes 17 (Moreno Valley), 33 (East Hemet) and 36 (Yucaipa/Calimesa) are all losing Saturday service. (Many other routes have had times "adjusted", so be sure to check your route before January.)
Note what we HAVEN'T seen- the recently promised Commuterlink 212/214 (San Jacinto and Hemet) and late-night expansion on routes 1, 15, and 16. Though "late-night" is a bit of a misnomer, as the expanded service would only extend for an hour after the current last trips (which currently end at 22:00, 21:00 and 20:30 respectively), even this modest expansion seems to have been passed over. Must the beleagured denizens of Riverside wait yet another quarter for desperately-needed connectivity?
I think it goes without saying that the Winter 2009 schedule is yet another example of the worst possible policies for this situation. We are heading into a deep recession, with most economic indicators nose-diving and unemployment skyrocketing. Our region is already poorly-connected as far as public transit goes. Ridership has been increasing by huge margins, and the last thing we need to do right now is to cut service. This simply closes opportunities and drives people back to their cars (no pun intended). Another quarter without an upgrade is another quarter where the people of Riverside suffer.
Times edited for standards compliance, typo removed.