Thursday, September 10, 2009

Getting To The Train

NPR has a great piece on intermodal planning, and the unpleasant things that happen when cities and regions fail to account for it. A highlight was the story of one rider who chose to take the train in to Raleigh, NC with her children, rather than drive, and found the transit connections there rather lacking.

"I knew we were going to have to walk a little bit," Hancock said, pulling maps out of her handbag. They decided to walk to the nearest bus stop, navigating along broken pavement on a street without a sidewalk. Then, they stood in 99-degree heat at a bus stop with no bench or canopy...

"In the future, I probably would just drive it," Hancock says.

This story happened in North Carolina, but it could have just as easily happened in San Bernardino or Riverside, both of whom lack strong inter-modal connections between their rail stations and bus networks. San Bernardino is pouring a bit of change into a multi-modal transit centre that is to include Omni buses, Metrolink, and the new sbX and Redlands light rail projects (though where Amtrak will stop remains a mystery). Riverside is slated to move the current downtown terminal to a new Metrolink-adjacent multi-modal transit centre, complete with Amtrak California, Greyhound, and other transport options. However, both plans are lacking firm political will from key actors, namely the City of San Bernardino and RTA, and when we'll see either is anyone's guess. I've had the experience of walking a few blocks from the Metrolink to the University & Lemon stop or the downtown terminal to catch a bus many, many times, and it's so much more pleasant when (as in Los Angeles, Montclair, Fontana, Santa Ana, and other places) I can simply step off the train and onto a bus. When the system works together, it makes for a convenient alternative to the private automobile. When it doesn't, it simply drives people back to said automobile. What we need for the future is obvious, isn't it?

By the way, The Transport Politic responded to the NPR story with this post. It's an interesting take, though one that I don't think applies as well to CA-HSR's Central Valley stations, or to the Inland Empire.

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