I was reading this post about how transit agencies can leverage word-of-mouth advertising to increase ridership, and the thought occurred to me: I whine about RTA a lot on this blog. An unfamiliar reader might get the impression that our transit system is inconvenient, slow, and unreliable, their administration unresponsive and callous, and other generally bad things about the system. Let me make something clear right now:
I love my transit system.
I grew up in a place with anemic transit. There is a total of one bus stop in my entire hometown, with only one scheduled daily trip (with others available by 24-hour advance reservation). Riding the bus was something that had to be planned well in advance, and I didn't do it much. More than most of my peers, to be sure, but still not that often. (Transit there is even worse now, with no connection to the rest of the world besides Greyhound.)
I love the fact that I can roll out of bed at 9 in the morning and decide on a whim that I'd like to go to any of a thousand different places in Greater Los Angeles, and hop on the next bus and go. I enjoy the clean, comfortable and safe interiors of RTA buses and (especially) Metrolink trains. I have a warm, squishy spot in my heart for U-Pass, the program that provides me, and my fellow UCR students, with free rides from Montclair to Escondido. I really enjoy all the reading I get done on the bus. One of my favourite places to be in the world is in one of the sideways-facing seats at the rear of the bus (more legroom!), lost in a good book.
I'll even admit to enjoying that feeling I get when people around me complain about traffic and parking. And gas prices? I haven't thought about them in months.
RTA and other regional transit operators run, on balance, a well-designed an efficient system that's safe, clean, reliable and affordable. I truly encourage anyone and everyone to try riding for a while, just to see if it works for you. I'm not going to stop working to make our system better, but I don't want anyone to be turned off from riding because of my rants. Get out there and ride, folks.
Oh, and by the way, here's a story from the PE- I'm not the only crazy who loves the bus. :)