Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Trolleys Expand Their Range

According to the Transit Coalition's Nicholas Ventrone, RTA is now running route 24 in Temecula with their trolley-themed buses. Observant riders will note that (because of the useless and ornate cowcatcher on the front) these buses lack bicycle racks. If I haven't mentioned this shortcoming before on the blog, I'm disappointed in myself- this limitation severely curtails bicycle capacity in the UCR area by not accepting bicycles on the 51 and 53 shuttles. Of course, these are relatively short-distance routes, both of which cover easily-biked distances. The 24, on the other hand, is one of the main local bus routes in the Temecula area, covering nearly the entire city on an over-10-mile route.

In areas with poor public transit service, like Riverside and especially Temecula, the combination of bicycles and public transit can afford users substantially more flexibility than either mode alone. Ensuring that this combination is unusable will drive customers away from transit, increase automobile use, and significantly reduce the utility of route 24.

Stylized trolley-themed buses are not incompatible with bike racks- the entire Highlander Hauler fleet (UCR's shuttle system) is a set of blue Cable Car Classics trolleys, and each one of them is equipped with a little-used bicycle rack. RTA's trolleys choose to utilize the space in the front of the bus for useless ornamentation rather than bicycle capacity. I urge RTA to find a way to return bicycle capacity to Route 24 as soon as possible.


Anonymous said...

Would ridership rise if RTA ran the bike rack equipped CommuterLink buses, complete with Wireless Internet and cushion seats.

JN said...

It would certainly increase due to cyclists being able to ride, and I'd like to think a few other folks around the margins might be enticed by wi-fi and comfy chairs. Of course, it's not going to happen as RTA has barely enough of these to cover CommuterLink service (and often runs non-wi-fi vans to cover shortages).

That said, given the choice between increasing amenities (such as wi-fi, TV and comfy seats) and improving service, we should support the latter. People want transit first and foremost to go where they need to go, when they need to go there. Beyond that, anything else is just icing on the cake.