Monday, August 10, 2009

Omnitrans Oversights

So I was out at the IEA West Side luncheon at Victoria Gardens in Rancho. I carpooled there, but my carpool was heading back to Loma Linda and so I eschewed catching a ride with other attendees and decided to take the train home.

And, since I'm posting about it, you know something went wrong.

I caught the 66 on Foothill towards the Fontana Metrolink, and showed my Metrolink 10-Trip pass to the driver... who then proceeded to argue with me that said pass was not valid on that route. I had to remind him that Metrolink tickets are indeed valid for travel to and from any Metrolink station, and I'm lucky that I know the Omni fare policy well. Novice riders- you know, the type that would normally use a Metrolink ticket as a transfer- would probably be intimidated off the bus, or naievely drop the $1.35 in the farebox.

So, after a wait for one of the rare Sunday Metrolink trains at Fontana, I got to Downtown San Bernardino. The line only intermittently stops in Riverside, and I wasn't waiting until 20:00 for a train home (it was around 1700 at this point), so I decided to walk to 4th & F and catch the 215. I also intended to use my Metrolink ticket as a transfer on that route.

This may seem strange for people inexperienced with RTA, but let me explain. RTA has a policy similar to Omnitrans- Metrolink tickets are valid for travel on any route that serves a Metrolink station. (Incidentally, this is not restricted, as in Omni's case, solely to travel to and from said station.) Here's the thing with RTA, though. They allow passengers on Metrolink to use their tickets for a transfer pretty much anywhere within walking distance of the train station, including downtown terminal, especially on weekends. This sort of wink-wink nudge-nudge policy allows for a lot of flexibility in our otherwise poorly-designed downtown transit mix.

Omnitrans, however, adheres to their policy strictly. Unless you're going to or from a train station, and we mean RIGHT to the train station (in San Bernardino this means route 1 only), no Metrolink transfers.

LA and Orange Counties have this particular policy right. A valid Metrolink ticket is a pass, everywhere, all day, every day, no questions asked. And San Bernardino seemed to be thinking intermodally- I praised their new downtown transit center back in June. So what gives?

End of story, I dropped $1.35 in the farebox (Guys- 25 or 50... please...) and got home after a nearly three hour transit trip.

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