Monday, August 20, 2012

Good News from RTA this September!

It's rare that I get to write a post like this, so when I do, it's exciting. The September service changes are out (due to go into effect on the 9th), and they are almost entirely good news. RTA service is expanding, albeit by mostly tiny changes around the margins, in response to record levels of ridership on the system. Two mild service discontinuations are offset by pretty substantial expansions elsewhere. Let's take a look.

Minor changes: Routes 7, 11, 23, 40, 41, 61, 79

All of these routes have minor schedule tweaks to make better connections or better serve local demand. If you ride them, you should probably check the new times.

Mixed trip changes: Routes 12, 206

Each of these routes gained a new trip, but at a price: the 12 gained a 2:30p trip but lost a 4:30p, the 206 gained a new 4:36p southbound but will now short-turn the 5:22p trip.

Trip extensions: Routes 1, 12, 22, 51

Each of these routes will see morning, evening or weekend extensions of trips that used to short-turn. On the 1 in particular, all of the late-night short turns at Downtown Terminal have been extended all the way to UCR.

Frequency enhancements: Routes 1, 16, 19, 27

Each of these routes will see frequency improvements. On the 1 in particular, frequencies will improve to 18 minutes, approaching those of a moderately-useful urban bus system. On the 1 and 27, though, I worry that RTA is sacrificing clock-face scheduling for minor capacity improvement.

The 16 will see a return to clock-face scheduling, at a new 20-minute frequency. That said, it does come at a price: The route will now terminate at Downtown, lopping off the run it used to make up into the north side. The stretch is a hair under 2km, and alternate service is available on the 12 and (to some extent) 29, although I expect a lot of these trips will switch to walking or cycling.

Discontinued route: Route 53

And it's official-- we can lament the loss of our beloved Beer Bear Runner. The late-night UCR shuttle was funded by the campus primarily as a safety measure, although I primarily used it as a bragging tool-- 20 hours a day of transit service to my apartment!-- and a way to get home from the campus pub. The campus decided not to fund it, presumably after seeing the abysmal ridership numbers, and RTA had no reason to continue the service on its own dime.

New destination: Route 210 to Palm Springs!

A gap that has existed in SoCal transit since 2004, with the demise of the SuperBus-equipped SunLink, will be filled. SunLine Transit (the primary operator in the Palm Springs area) will operate several trips that are currently run as the Route 210 CommuterLink. These trips will extend from Palm Springs all the way in to Riverside, continuing to make normal scheduled stops at Banning and Moreno Valley. There will be two westbound trips in the morning and two eastbound trips in the afternoon, and (as far as I can tell) no reverse commute or weekend service. RTA also says that their passes will be accepted between Banning and Riverside on Sunline-operated runs.

I think there are still some unanswered questions. First, will riders with universal transit passes, like CityPass and UPass, be able to ride the Sunline buses as well? Second, will RTA passes be good as credit towards the full Riverside-Palm Springs fare, or will such riders have to pay cash? Lastly, will Sunline passes be good for transfer to RTA at transfer points? But aside from all this, I'm glad to see this service start up, and hope that it sticks around a bit longer than the short-lived SunLink. (I must admit that I did always want to ride one of those SuperBuses, though, and never did get the chance.)

So there you have it, a service change update almost entirely filled with good news. Transit in Riverside is expanding, core routes are getting frequencies that are almost-useful, and ridership seems to be heading in only one direction: up.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

To answer your first question, the route is seperated into two, RTA's 210 in its current form, and Sunline's 220 with the extension to Palm Springs. Route numbers are key here, due to the route being seperated by zones; With route 2[1]0 serving zone 1, and route 2[2]0 also serving zone 2.

Fare is also divided into two zones (similar to the old 149), RTA fare media (including the UPass & CityPass) be valid on Route 220, but only in Zone 1 (Riverside-Banning). An upcharge will be required to travel to/from Zone 2 (Palm Springs) when using RTA fare media. More info on this route and its fare(s) can be found in the new schedule on the RTA site.

Second, RTA accepts neighboring transit passes for a one way trip at thier "points of contact", such as Omni passes and vice-versa at the V.A. Hosp. in Loma Linda, Michigan & Center in Highgrove, Downtown Terminal, and Mulberry & Marlay in Fontana. One can only assume this will be respected at this route's points of contact in Riverside and Moreno Valley.

My apologies if this confused you more, if any questions remain, consult your RideGuide or don't hesiatate give RTA a call.