Tuesday, February 10, 2009

How they do it in Fontana

Recently I posted on a little excursion to Los Angeles. All told, things went pretty smoothly. Last week I took a trip to Fontana to retrieve a sweater I lost. Smooth was... not the adjective that came to mind.

A lot of other words came to mind, but I won't post them here.

Where to start? Okay, summary time I suppose. I rode my bike from UCR to the downtown terminal, took Omni 215-San Bernardino to 4th & E, transferred to the 10-Fontana to Baseline and Citrus, rode my bike to Baseline and the 15 freeway, got my sweater, rode a couple of blocks back towards Citrus, got lunch, hopped the 67-Fontana to Baseline and Citrus, caught the 10-San Bernardino back downtown, took the 215-Riverside to the RTA terminal and the 16 back home.

It started out innocently enough. I put my bike on the 215's rack, sat down, put on my headphones and started doing some philosophy reading. Twenty minutes later I look up and something is wrong. We're on the 60 speeding eastbound, passing through Rubidoux.
After determining that the driver is a newbie on the route who was trying to save us some time, another rider and I manage to talk her to Colton, where she re-joins the route. I was hoping to catch a Metrolink in San Berdoo, but alas this will not be. Thirty minutes down, we roll into San Bernardino. (For the record, the driver handled herself admirably, and I hope she isn't reprimanded too sternly. The route she was trying to take was confusing.)

This annoys me about San Bernardino. They don't have a bus terminal. They have the "4th Street Transit Mall", which is a fancy way of saying they have a three-block-or-so area where all the buses eventually end up in. Long Beach has a transit mall, and it works well. The street is bus-only, with ample pedestrian crossings and well-labeled stop locations (not to mention Metro Light Rail). San Bernardino's transit mall is the exact opposite.

So I catch the 10 across the street and am reminded that not everyone has low-floor buses. I comment on this to my wife via text message, and jokingly suggest that I'm glad nobody needs to get on with a walker. Three stops later, you guessed it, an older lady with a walker. A mile or two after that, the interminable wait of a wheelchair lift. Omnitrans, RTA has a bigger service area and less population density and they can manage low-floor buses. You've a higher farebox recovery rate and you advertise on your buses, can't you get the old ladies on board in less than five minutes?

Anyway, after a nice, long forty-five minute ride (which the 90 express used to do in 20, before it was cancelled), I disembark at Citrus and check the bus book to see if I can make a connection to the 67. Surprise! No timed connections, and the 67 has 1-HOUR headways. I thought I left those behind in the high desert, but I did bring my bike for a reason.

Heading back, I got to enjoy waiting for the 67. It was mysteriously hot in Fontana (global warming, anyone?) and I was full of food, so not ideal riding conditions. (Let's be honest- I'm not in as good a shape as I once was. I'm trying!) Once onboard, I noted how full the bus was. Not surprising, considering it only shows up once an hour. When I got off at Citrus to wait for the 10, I noticed how awful the facilities were. No benches. No shade. No nothing but a sign in the ground. Thanks, Omni.

It was then that it occurred to me that I ought to have taken the 67 down to the Fontana Metrolink. Looking back, it wouldn't have saved me any time at all, and would have cost more, but the air-conditioning factor would have been nice.

Anyway, the trip to Fontana, one that would have taken me no more than an hour round trip in my car, took me from 10:15 'till around 4:00. Please, Omni, bring back the 90 express. It's the least you could do.


Browne Molyneux said...

You went to LA right up the street from my house and you couldn't even say hello. That's pretty messed up.


JN said...

Funny you mention it. I was down at USC while you folks were Red Line bar-hopping in December. Tried to get away, I really did, but everyone else wanted to stay in and have their liquor brought to them.