Friday, July 31, 2009
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. :)
Thursday, July 30, 2009
I am still NOT HAPPY. Google Transit bliss (with all of Greater LA's major operators- Metro, Foothill, Omni, OCTA, RTA) lasted less than a month.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Now, do I know what the motivation for this is? Yup. This is part of that age-old inland-coastal divide in California politics, and Calvert's long frustration with the massive amount of goods that move through the IE from Los Angeles and Long Beach without a commensurate tax benefit to us. He also suggests that this money be used to pay for railroad grade separation, which points out that his only real focus on public transport is to segregate drivers from those noisy, well-lit killer trains.
Does any of this make me think, for even a second, that Kenny is a friend to public transit? Nope. Does it change the fact that I'll be working very, very hard to ensure that he's jobless come 2010? Nope. Does it mitigate, in any way, the shameless right-wing pandering and hypocritical christian moralising that he's famous for? Not at all. But I will give credit where credit is due.
Pictures of flying pigs to come.
Friday, July 24, 2009
View Larger Map
That abomination is what shows up when I try to plan a trip down Tyler way. "Drive to the Riverside Metrolink Station" it says. Not "Route 16 to Route 1". Riverside Transit data in Google Transit has been down for a few days, and I am not happy about it. I don't know who's fault this is. I do know I want it fixed. Now.
(EDIT: RTA's Google Transit data is back up, and the map now shows a proper routing to the Tyler Mall.)
Thursday, July 23, 2009
A midwestern discount airline, AirTran Airways, has a special program called AirTran U. For folks between the ages of 18 and 22, they charge $69 per short flight and $99 per long flight (LA is always long) if you're willing to fly standby. The downside? From LA, you only get three choices of destinations- Baltimore, Atlanta or Milwaukee. You're welcome to connect from there to anywhere you like- for an extra $69 per segment, standby only.
If you're like me- that is to say, cash-poor but time-wealthy and flexible- it's a fantastic deal. New, safe and comfortable aircraft with onboard XM and internet await the lucky traveler who gets a seat. I missed a flight once, the Friday night red-eye to LA from BWI, but everything else went swimmingly. College kids with the travel itch are honour-bound to check it out.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
FlyAway is a dedicated public express bus network designed to get folks from various points in the southland to LAX. They go to UCLA, Van Nuys and Union Station. I didn't check the schedules for the other routes, but the Union Station bus runs at least hourly, 24/7. It's quick and convenient to Metrolink, and it beats the Red-Blue-Green-Shuttle shuffle that links Metro's rail lines to LAX. I highly recommend the service.
That said, I have a couple of issues with it. One, and they don't make this very clear anywhere, all payment for the bus is done at the Union Station end, regardless of where you board. No signs or staff make this apparent at the airport, and this made for some stressful moments at LAX while waiting for the bus. A sign at each bus stop, "Payment due upon arrival" or some such, would improve this immensely.
Second, while the service does accept EZ Transit Passes (presumably for those who work at the airport) for credit equal to the pass' base fare, they do not accept Metrolink tickets as EZ Passes, for any sort of credit. If the goal of this service is to encourage transit riding to the airport, this seems counterintuitive. However, if the goal is simply to encourage parking elsewhere (as the parking information-laden brochure seems to suggest- Union Station's daily lot is $8/day), then I'm slightly soured on the service. We want to encourage people to ride transit, even to the airport. Even $1 off of FlyAway's fare would be an incentive for them to do so, rather than simply drive to cheap parking.
Lastly, the fare vending situation is a touch counterintuitive. There's a ticket booth at Patsouras Transit Plaza that you must buy your tickets from, and yet the booth requires cash only. If it's cash only, why can't it be collected onboard? If it's a fixed booth, why can't they install a Visa machine? And really, if you're going to have fixed fare payment, you'd lower the (remember: 24/7) labour costs of the service by simply installing a ticket machine. Put in $6, get out ticket. Life's good.
So, overall, FlyAway- awesome. Tune in tomorrow, when I actually go flying.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Saturday, July 4, 2009
This is the last westbound #17 bus, at Cottonwood and Frederick in Moreno Valley. Also posted up at the Flickr page are the last eastbound #17, as well as some shots of the 18A at Moreno Valley Mall. 18A, of course, also no longer exists.
Oh, and happy 4th everyone.
Friday, July 3, 2009
Hey, if we ever build that Magnolia Ave. streetcar, we can buy American.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
All in all? Things have been pretty good. We eat out less than we used to, which is an improvement in our finances as well. I've built the CrateBike, and made very effective use of it. We also have been using grocery delivery, which rocks. What strikes me the most is that, besides my wife complaining a bit more whenever she wants to go somewhere, and carpooling with friends for social events more often, our lives haven't really changed all that much. Of course, I'm an outlier. I was already pretty auto-independent when this event happened. (The only reason we were driving that night was because our family's in the high desert. No transit options.) Most people I know would have their entire lives thrown into chaos were they to find themselves suddenly without access to a car. They're very used to a day strung together by driving. Many don't live in a neighbourhood where car-free life be very practical. Many tract developments are miles away from the nearest grocery store, for example. I'm fortunate enough to have the Canyon Crest Towne Centre and a frequent transit line within walking distance.
So, does this mean I'm finally read to cut the car cord? Not quite. Well, I'm ready to entirely, but the wife is probably attending Cal State San Bernardino in the winter, and, beyond a very long bike ride, there simply aren't any commute alternatives for the night classes she'll have to take. Add to that student teaching, and we'll probably have to wait until after her credential is earned to go car-free. And even that depends on where she can find a job. But this summer is a good demonstration of what is possible, even here in the IE.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
However, I DON'T approve of the purposes the City is using the money for. Councilman Gardner wants this increase to build his Parking Structure to Nowhere for the Fox Theatre, completely destroying the purpose of subsidising the theatre in the first place. Fantastic, Mr. Gardner. Now stop being an idiot and let the rest of us re-vitalize downtown. Channel your parking fines into improved transit service, or build up a fund for the Riverside Rapid Streetcar.