(This post gets really, really ranty. As an apology, I grabbed this PDF out of the new SRTP. Be the first on your block to get a copy of the new, improved system map.)
RTA quietly posted their final FY2010-2012 Short Range Transit Plan on their web site today. You can get your copy from here. I was perusing the final version of the plan, and little has changed from the draft. I was heartened in that an address was not included for the Riverside Transit Center, and a line that suggested that said center would allow bus "and rail" connections. Awesome. Then I saw it.
The JARC grant funds summary, which, in the draft, proposed late-night service on 1, 16, 19, 20, 22, 25 and 27. In the final, adopted SRTP, the summary lists routes 7, 8, 41, 74 and 79, with increased weekend service frequency.
RTA, first of all, this change to your plan was not released to the public prior to your board meeting on Thursday. The public was not given any opportunity to comment on this revision, as they should have. I know I would have submitted commentary. (As I'm doing now...)
Second, those funds were granted to accommodate non-traditional work schedules, such as night shift workers and the like. Increasing weekend service frequency, while it's nice, doesn't accommodate any sort of schedule change. It just reduces waiting times, which, once again, is nice, but it's not the purpose of the grant. The purpose of this grant was to increase the span of service, therefore allowing night-shift workers and the like to be able to get to and from their jobs. This is not accomplished by increasing frequency. The only improvement listed that accomplishes the purpose of this grant is the addition of weekend service on the 41.
Lastly, by shifting these funds to far-flung rural routes, you are essentially guaranteeing the failure of this project- especially when these routes obviously don't garner enough ridership for hourly service frequencies as-is, without federal subsidy. Hell, what does "success" even mean in the context of this service? You're not expanding the window of opportunity for employment for the transit-dependent. You may garner increased ridership on these routes, but even hourly buses aren't exactly a passenger draw, and these routes don't run through areas that are conducive to ridership growth. Now, college students that work weird shifts along the 1 and 16? They might ride your night buses. But rural routes like the ones listed in your final SRTP aren't going to be self-supporting after FY 2012, and you'll just be back where you started.
Oh, and RTA? I'm really bored this summer. I have a bike, a bus pass, a phone and a LOT of time on my hands. Don't think for a second you're getting away with this.