Friday, October 30, 2009

Comment Policy

Hey everyone- bad news.
The comment spam has found my blog. I'm sorry to have to do this, but I'm making the RiR comments section registered users only. Please note that you can use any of the following accounts to comment on the site:
Google Account

I know many people comment on here anonymously, and I'm sad to do this, but I don't have the time nor the energy to deal with spammers.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Community Meeting Alert!

Posted in the new RTA Reader (you read the RTA Reader, don't you?) is a community meeting notice- November 9th at 6pm at RTA headquarters, staff are seeking recommendations regarding a number of proposals. Specifically, they name interlining 29 and 49, route detours for service to the Perris Transit Centre and during the Magnolia underpass construction, and converting 149 to a CommuterLink route. All of these sound pretty innocuous, but a close eye is warranted- how do they plan to interline 29 and 49? Those routes serve pretty different areas (Limonite via Mira Loma and Mission via Pedley to South Fontana), which are already very under-served. Also, does making the 149 a CommuterLink just change the livery of the bus and the fare structure, or are they planning on making it weekday-peak-only just like all of the other CommuterLink routes? I'll be at the meeting to ask.

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my 23rd birthday, and apparently City and RTA officials decided they needed to get me something nice. It was very thoughtful, guys, but you didn't need to spend $9 million on little 'ole me.

The Riverside Multi-Modal Transit Centre is "on track", according to an article in the PE today. From the looks of the little infographic, the center will fit in where the current Lifetouch photography building is now. This isn't quite the optimal location for it- rail patrons will still have to walk across the parking lot to reach their train- but it's a substantial improvement to the 6+ block walk between the train and bus terminals that currently exists. Also mentioned in the news story is a building with a waiting area, restrooms, and Greyhound and RTA ticket sales. Yes, Greyhound would also be invited to use the terminal. That means Amtrak trains and buses, Greyhound, Metrolink and RTA all on the same spot. This is a very, very good thing.

Of course, one little thing that does draw my ire in this article is the fact that the biggest threat to the terminal project is- you guessed it- freeway widening. The 91 may be widened to the point that the property in question is not conducive to building a transit centre. With the bias that RCTC has towards Metrolink parking, I doubt they'll give up any of Metrolink's parking spots in favour of a transit centre, so that might kill the project. If a road project kills my transit centre, I will be a very, very unhappy blogger, but I think that goes without saying.

I'm also very glad to see that the PE quoted RTA CEO Larry Rubio on this, because as recently as the last RTA meeting, I was told in no uncertain terms that RTA's official position on the transit centre project was to remain at the Mission Inn Ave. site. Good to see they've changed their minds.

And guys, if you need to dedicate this thing to somebody, consider a tireless advocate for better transportation in Riverside. ;)

P.S.- Apparently, an old high school friend of my mother stumbled upon this blog site and thought it was cool. Hello! I'm glad to know I'm famous.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Anti-spending Congressman protests lousy transit service

I try not to be blatantly partisan on this blog, but I did mention I'm a strong liberal, right? So it should come as no surprise that I was seeing red when I found this post on Wonkette today. A Republican congressman voted against funding for DC's Metro system, and then was surprised and indignant when that system failed to transport protesters from his district... to a rally... to protest government spending.

This is one of those annoyances of American politics- the connection in peoples' minds between taxation and government services has been severed, and this is especially true for those on the right. It's even worse here in California, because, through the initiative process, we manage to vote for a whole boatload of services, and then turn around and vote for another boatload of tax cuts.

Ladies and gentlemen- taxes pay for good things. Schools, bridges, police and fire, and yes, public transport. These are things that would not exist if it were left to the private sector to provide them, or if they were provided, would be provided at an inadequate level and for the elite few. I would happily pay an extra penny on the dollar in sales tax if it went to supporting a real public transport system here in Riverside.

I don't know what my point is in all of this. I guess I just want to point out why our state is going down the tubes so quickly, and ask all of you to think about this when you make political decisions. Taxes mean services. They are not some random theft from your paycheck or grocery bill because politicians like to see you suffer. If we want a well-functioning society, we have to be willing to pay for it.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Free Stuff!

As part of National Rideshare Week (who knew?), Omnitrans is offering a download-and-print web coupon for a free day pass any day of this week. Go get it from their web site.

I'm working on a few posts, but they're either long or technical and I've been busy. I'll probably have something interesting up tomorrow.

Transfer Policies

UPDATE: I forgot all about Corona Cruiser passes. They've been added.

Part of the reason I write this little blog is to ensure that you folks out there have the best possible transit experience, while trying to poke RTA's soft underbelly to ensure that that experience gets better. As I've mentioned before, during my interview with the Ralph and Tim podcast, knowing your fare and transfer policies is essential to ensuring that you are not overpaying for your ride on transit. There are many, many ways to ride free on our local transit systems (all legal!), and you should take advantage of them rather than dropping your $1.50 in the fare box without question. This post was prompted by an experience last night at the Metrolink, where a gentleman paid for his bus trip, even though he had ridden the train in. As most readers are aware, Metrolink tickets are good for one transfer away from the train station. In light of this experience, I am writing this public-service post to call attention to the transfer policies of our various local transit agencies, in the hopes that you readers will find them useful.

Transfers and Free Rides on RTA:
  • Riverside County Jury Summons- Good for unlimited rides on RTA during its period of validity.

  • City of Riverside & RTA Employee ID- Good for unlimited rides on RTA.

  • RCC, UCR, La Sierra U or Cal Baptist U ID card- Good for unlimited rides on RTA.

  • Valid Omnitrans pass (must have dates on back)- Good for one local fare on 25 in Loma Linda, 49 at Country Village, and on all local routes at Downtown Terminal.

  • Metrolink ticket or pass- Good for rides to and from any Metrolink station, on trips that serve that station only. Includes CommuterLink. (Unofficially, good at University & Orange and University & Park for trips that do not, especially on weekends.)

  • OCTA passes are good as $1.50 credit towards fare on 149 at the Village at Orange.

  • Pass Transit passes are good as $0.75 credit towards fare on local routes at the Beaumont Wal-Mart.

  • Corona Cruiser passes are good for one local fare on RTA routes in the City of Corona.

Transfers with your RTA pass:
Note: CityPass and U-Pass participants do not receive these privileges.
  • OCTA local routes serving the Village at Orange.

  • Omnitrans 215 at Downtown Terminal, 82 at Country Village, and all local routes serving Loma Linda V.A. Hospital, Ontario Mills Mall and Montclair TransCenter.

  • RTA passes are good for one local fare on Corona Cruiser routes from the point of contact.

  • RTA connects with Foothill Transit at the Montclair TransCenter. RTA passes are not officially listed as an accepted transfer medium in the Foothill bus book, but I have used one to some success in the past. YMMV.

Omnitrans has a very good summary of their own transfer politices available at their web site.

The way the budgetary process works involves each agency setting aside a certain amount of money to re-imburse others for the cost of these transfers. This money has essentially already been spent- you aren't doing any good by not using it. Keep these policies in mind when you're out and about on our local transit systems- they may well save you a bit.