Thursday, April 30, 2009


The City Council elections are just around the corner, and so it's time for RiR to make a few picks. I'll be trying to confine this analysis to transportation issues and immediately related subjects, such as land-use and development.

Ward 2: Andy Melendrez
This one is kind of a no-brainer. Councilman Melendrez is the only friend public transport has on the current City Council. I am a little upset with him over the Greyhound issue, when he stated that he didn't want Greyhound in his ward, but it seems like he has changed his opinion over time. He was a vocal proponent of the multi-modal transit center, and the only council member not to vote against Greyhound in Downtown. I only wish he could have been more effective in this fight, rather than being hampered by conflict-of-interest regulations.

Candidate Rasso is running on a law-and-order platform. We have seen over the last few months what that means for public transit... a concentrated campaign against it, centered around "vagrancy."

Candidate Smith seems to be a viable candidate. He mentions the City's Green Action Plan among his platform. His wife is a public school teacher, which should require some sensitivity to local education issues. He seems to genuinely support education and reinvestment in our area, and so seems to be a good second pick. However, he completely leaves out transportation in his platform, so I had to go with the candidate who's record I know.

I am, by the way, a Ward 2 resident, so this is the most important race for me.

Ward 4: Paul Davis
Candidate Davis does not mention transportation in his platform, but he does mention freeways and land use. He supports bringing jobs and housing to Riverside, which will, as he puts it, get people "off our freeways". He also mentions that he supports public space and parks, which are essential for any urban area to function properly. (If done right... I can recommend good readings on the subject.)

Councilman Schiavone voted against Greyhound, and has a record that makes him particularly transit-unfriendly. 8 years is enough.

Ward 6: Write-in?
I can't, in good conscience, make a pick in the Ward 6 race. None of the candidates support the goals and values of responsible, sustainable development and transportation. Write me in if you like, though I don't think I'm eligible (as I said, I live in Ward 2). Better yet, find a good progressive out there who'd fight for our city and our planet, and write him/her in.

Councilwoman Hart is out for obvious reasons.

Candidate Alfaro seems to mean well, but half of her statements on the IE Craigslist page (which was one of the only paces I could find anything out about her) were about stopping "multi-story projects". So... more sprawl, eh?

Candidate Scherer says nearly nothing about transportation and land use, but his "conservative political philosophy" (grounded "in his religion") says to me that he'd like to pare back government. That's not the way we need to go in this recession. Government includes transportation services.

UPDATE: Frequent commenter twodogkd mentions that it's her belief that "Bill Scherer may be a good candidate and would support keeping Greyhound in Riverside." Apparently he is against the eminent domain abuse that is forcing the bus operator out of their terminal, consistent with his belief in private enterprise. Her comments are below this post. My response is below her comments.

So there you are. Riding in Riverside's picks for the 2009 City Council elections. Ballots go out May 4th!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Recall my post earlier this year about the service cuts coming in June. I've finally found the Board Actions from that meeting, and I figured I'd let you know what's going on.

Once again, you win some, you lose some. Looks like Moreno Valley will hold on to #17. However, the 36 Calimesa (which RiR has fought hard for), 38 Eastvale, and 38E Metrolink Express are going to be canceled. Eastvale riders, I'm still pretty sure that the 38 is going to be merged into the 3, which will keep a connection to Metrolink at the North Corona station. Unless you work in Pomona or Industry, you'll be alright. Riders with jobs in the OC will actually gain from this, not to mention you'll have easier connections into Corona (1 bus) and Riverside (Routes 1 and 149 at North Main) under the new system. The action notice further states that 22 routes will experience "service changes" (cuts) designed to eliminate "service duplication" (reasonable headways).

This is a severe blow to Calimesa riders, unfortunately. However, MoVal, Corona and Riverside look like they'll avoid the worst cuts. Now it's just a waiting game to see what comes out in the June Ride Guide.

Oh, and the RCC Upass will continue for a second year. Woot! According to the RTA Reader, the program generated an average 70,000 boardings a month from students in the RCC district. I believe ASRCC is going to be voting on a small student fee that will fund this program permanently. Good luck guys.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

When did this happen?

RTA route 1 now connects to the Metrolink station on weekends. They ought to have been doing this 5 years ago, and it's still a little ways from perfect... but at least they're doing it now, right?

Connections on the Saturday Eastbound bus available to IEOC trains 857, 859, 860 and 861, San Bernardino trains 351 and 357, and Amtrak California bus 5415.

Connections on the Saturday Westbound bus available to IEOC trains 860 and 861, and Amtrak California bus 5417.

Connections on the Sunday Eastbound bus available to IEOC trains 857, 858 and 859, San Bernardino train 365, and Amtrak California buses 5415, 5417 and 5403.

Connections on the Sunday Westbound bus available to IEOC trains 858 and 860.

Note that train 860 on Saturdays becomes 377 with service to Los Angeles via San Bernardino, and 858 becomes 375 with similar service.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hey, Ward 6

Councilwoman Nancy Hart, running for re-election, spoke at a candidate's forum sponsored by The Group on 4/4/09. Readers who were at that forum asked me to post this audio, so you could see what the Councilwoman thinks about the Greyhound situation.

Either use the player above, or download the file here. (40k VBR MP3, ~1:45)

Some choice excerpts:

Moderator: Greyhound is scheduled to leave Downtown Riverside June 30th, with no alternative locations... Will you take action to ensure that Greyhound remains in Riverside with no break in service?

Councilwoman Hart: Probably not with no break in service. We have made a deal with Greyhound... They accepted the money, so evidently they are willing to move somewhere else.

In other cities, Greyhound does not have a depot. All they have is... is like an ATM machine... They don't have places where you can have vagrancy happen. Greyhound does not need to be in the middle of Downtown Riverside behind the Fox Theatre. (emphasis mine)

I don't think I need to tell you that this isn't exactly the kind of progressive representation we're looking for from our City Council.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


The Blogger control panel now allows me to easily add Google AdSense advertisements to the blog, and I think I get enough traffic on here that it might be worth it to enable these ads and make a bit of money out of this little chunk of cyberspace, being a starving college student and all.

I'm not going to do it, however, if it's going to piss you guys off. So I've posted a poll. Let me know what you think.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Fare Shake

As promised, a line-by-line analysis of the new RTA fares. I'm mostly pleased with the outcome of this change. The few exceptions are noted below.

Cash Fares:
General was $1.25, now $1.50
Senior/Disabled was $0.65, now $0.75
Child fares hold at $0.25 each.

These increases were expected, and the RTA seems to have taken the "one big increase" option here. With any luck, this will provide the needed cash influx to stave off service cuts better than the alternative 5%-a-year increase. These prices are in line with the proposed changes that I highlighted back in January, and I still find them prudent.

Day Passes:
General was $3.75, now $4.00
Senior/Disabled was $1.85, now $2.00

Huzzah! Here there be victory! The RTA has changed its policy on exorbitant Day Pass fares, and the cost of the new Day Passes has actually decreased in terms of multiples of base fare. This was my primary objection to January's proposed fare structure, and it seems RTA listened.

7-Day Pass:
Was $12, now $16.00

Well, you win some, you lose some. While still a value compared to 7 day passes, the 7 Day increased by a little over 1 multiple of the base fare. Also, it won't be sold onboard, which limits access to the transit system for what seems to be no reason at all. If anyone at RTA wants to comment on the decision to discontinue onboard sales, let me know.

31-Day Pass:
Was 31 days, now 30
General: was $43, now $50
Senior: was $21, now $23
Youth: was $32, now $35

So, the 30-31 day thing seems petty, but really it's like the job furloughs we're seeing all over. A tiny inconvenience for a lot of people means we avoid a big inconvenience for more. 12 monthly passes now puts you 5 days shy of a year, where it used to put you 7 days over. Not the end of the world. Moreover, every pass is cheaper by at least one multiple of base fare, with the Senior/Disabled pass being an impressive 4.33 multiples cheaper. This is a reasonable response to inflation, and better yet, it takes into account the limited budgets of sensitive riders (seniors, the disabled, and youth).

Cut: 10-Tripper and Annual Pass

As far as the Annual Pass goes, I think this was a failed RTA experiment. I'm betting that not enough riders committed to buying their transportation in 365-day blocks to make it worth their while to offer such a pass. While it was an interesting idea, I don't think that there's anyone being directly hurt by the dropping of the annual pass. If you can afford to drop $450 on a bus pass all at once, you probably don't need the discount provided by the pass. That said, if anyone out there in readerland CAN afford to drop $450 on the annual pass, if you can buy it and validate it before June 28th you can avoid the fare increase for another full year. (K-12 students, it's $375 and seniors and disabled, it's $220.)

The 10 Tripper is being cut, which I think is a mistake. It provided the ease of a bus pass with the commitment of cash fare, and I think it ought to be continued to encourage new riders. I also think it ought to be sold on board. However, if the RTA really didn't see the use out of it, I don't think it's the worst loss we could have suffered.

Suddenly More Expensive: Commuterlink

I don't like it, nor does anyone who rides Commuterlink on a pass. However, the RTA was the only operator in the area to operate an extensive express bus system and then not charge more for it. The last fare increase we saw was the CommuterLink cash fare, and now the pass fare is going up. (Personally, I'm a U-Pass rider, so I get out of it anyway. :D) On the upside, there is now a monthly pass option for those riders who use the 149-Orange County often. Up until now, you'd have to carry an inconvenient $1.65 (exact change!) each way to go along with your pass.
I would urge RTA, in making this move, to ensure that local passes are worth credit towards the express fare. Local riders should swipe their passes and pay $1.50 to ride occasionally. Furthermore, RTA needs to ensure that transfer agreements are in place with all of the systems that CommuterLink comes into contact with (for you planning guys, I'll make it easy: Omnitrans, Foothill, OCTA, NCTD Sprinter & Breeze, NCTD Coaster, Pass Transit, Corona Cruiser and Metrolink)

I'll go ahead and post an analysis of the actual fare changes, for comparison with the one I did of the proposed changes in January.

Monday, April 20, 2009


An article flashed across the intertubes that I had to call to your attention.

This piece, by the ever-excellent Dan Bernstein in the PE, says that the City has changed it's stance on the 'Hound. Apparently, they now embrace the idea that the 'Hound should be part of that inter-modal transit center by the train station. (Apparently, a brain cell made it's way into the Council chambers, despite the best efforts of security.)

I'm not sure what Mr. Bernstein is sourcing, or if this truly represents a real policy change. If he's just sourcing that Transportation Committee meeting, then I doubt that any real change has occurred. Anyone with more information is encouraged to bring it to my attention, via the usual comment box.

Stickin' Around

Hello loyal readers. Sorry about the break, I'l be back to posting soon. Just wanted to let you all know that I've been accepted to the PhD program in political science at UCR. To you, that means this blog is gonna be around for quite a while. Enjoy!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Transportation Committee, 4/9

So I've been quiet. My various roles in life have been catching up to me lately, and I've taken some time off from blogging last week because everything else was so overwhelming. I won't bother you with the details. I'll just get in to where I left off: the Transportation Committee meeting last Thursday.

Two major items were on the agenda: Greyhound and High-Speed Rail. I didn't even know about the latter, but it was pretty awesome.

On the issue of Greyhound, the planning department of the City recommended to the Committee that the City push forward in building a true intermodal transit center at the Downtown Metrolink, to include RTA, Metrolink, Amtrak, and, as Councilman Melendrez made repeatedly clear, as many private bus operators as could be persuaded to join in on the plan. The Councilman also suggested that the visibility of our city's Amtrak service should be raised, a point I agree with strongly. While all members were highly in favour of said transit center (including Councilman Adams! *gasp*), the Committee did not actually address the issue of the current Greyhound station, as the action item on their desk was "to recommend that the City work with Greyhound should they choose to return to the city in the future" (paraphrasing). However, the public comments made clear that the issue is far from closed in the minds of those affected.
A member of the Eastside community, frequent commenter Karen Wright, a few other members of the public representing themselves, the president of the Riverside Chamber of Commerce (amazingly) and myself commented on the issue. With the exception of the CoC President, every single person there made clear that continuous, uninterrupted Greyhound service to Riverside is important to us. I also delivered a petition of around a hundred signatures at UCR. The public opinion on the issue is clear from both those who attend these meetings and those who comment in the local paper: Greyhound must stay.
The Chamber President, to my happy surprise, strongly supported the idea of an intermodal transit center. She did not directly address the issue of Greyhound leaving, though I am told in the past her organization was a driving force behind ridding Downtown of Greyhound.
To sum up: Hope on the horizon for a modern intermodal transit center at the downtown Metrolink. Probably no action on saving Greyhound anytime soon. We shall see at the next Council meeting.

Secondly, the CA-HSRA was at the meeting to present to the Committee the alignment issues with the LAX-SAN segment, which is due to pass through Riverside. Though this was a very early advisory meeting, I see one possible snag. Apparently RCTC has asked the HSRA to consider running the train through Corona instead of Riverside. Councilmen Gardner and Melendrez rightly shot this idea down, but Councilman Adams (our rep to RCTC) sounded like he favoured said route. I commented to suggest a few alignment and station locations, and implored the HSRA to link the train to our current transport infrastructure (such as it is). This is in the very early, early stages, but please keep your eye on it. This route will be decided, and it MUST MUST MUST run through Riverside. Don't let RCTC move it to Corona for no good reason.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Car costs

As many of you know, I live car-lite, not car-free. Yet. (We're working on it.) Accordingly, Monday was the day for me to go take care of the ritual sacrifice at the altar of AAA and DMV to ensure my vehicular operations, such as they are, comply with all local and state regulations. Namely, smog check, insurance and registration.

I don't have a car payment. My car was a gift to me for my 18th birthday. (Thanks, mom!) Even still, a "free" car costs a considerable chunk of our meager college-student income. This year's sacrifice was a little over $700. This is nothing extravagant- 1 smog test, 1 AAA membership (we decided to cancel the wife's card, as she doesn't drive), the cheapest liability-only auto insurance we could find, and $129 to the friendly DMV man. Some readers will point out that $700 really is rather low, comparatively speaking, for my yearly auto regulatory costs.

I will point out that $700, just one year's car costs, is enough to buy a sweet new folding bicycle, or 14 months of general 30-Day bus passes under the new fare structure. (More on that later.) It would also amount to around three months of our household food budget, six months of the cell phone bill, and a year's Internet bill. And, of course, this figure only counts the bare minimum it takes to legally park a car on a public street. To run it, you have to add in gas, maintenance, repairs, car washes, fast food, etc. I keep these operations costs to a minimum, but that doesn't change the fixed costs one bit.

How much is your car costing you?

Penguin Army

Windows and Mac peoples: The Linux Revolution is coming. Fear our Penguin army!

(For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about... I'm sorry.
Photo credit to fireurimagination at Incredimazing.)

Transportation Committee Meeting

I may have erroneously told some folks that the City Transportation Committee meeting was today at 1pm. I apologise for any inconvenience- it is THURSDAY at 1pm, in the 7th floor conference room. I've already got nearly 100 signatures to keep Greyhound right where it is. I suggest you all do the same.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Pointless Poll

My advisor mentioned in class that unscientific polls are now practically zero-cost, and that you could put one up on your web site in 5 minutes.

It took me three. :)

Vote to the right with your opinions on Critical Mass rides, where cyclists take over a city street by riding through it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Critical Mass Riverside

For those of you who don't know, Critical Mass is a loosely-organized group of cyclists who get together at a specified time to assert their rights under the law. The intention is to get enough bikes together that they fill the street. They cannot be accused of blocking traffic- they become the traffic. Such a thing is a regular occurrence in San Francisco and New York City, closing downtown streets to motor vehicles as a platoon of clean, emission-free passenger transports cruises along. As a cyclist (I <3 bus bike racks), I've always wanted to join in on such a ride, but all of the LA area rides are just starting up around the time the last train home is leaving.

Well, it turns out there is a Riverside Critical Mass. Now, I'd never heard of them, so it's possible that their current mass is a touch less than critical... but that's just a reason to join in, right?

They have a monthly ride, second Sunday at 16:00 at the downtown library, but they're also holding a special ride today, for what they're calling "Fossil Fuel Fool's Day". Meeting at RCC at 17:30, ride starts at 18:00. I'll be there, and I hope to see some of y'all as well.