Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bicycle Advisory Committee Meeting

The Bike Advisory Committee will meet tomorrow night, Thursday the 29th, in the 5th Floor Large Conference Room at City Hall.

Mega good news!

I've written before about the wonders of the low-cost express bus network along the East Coast's I-95 corridor. Since the federal DOT shut down a good number of the chinatown lines, the situation isn't quite as friendly as it was when I wrote that post, but one company has been making the best of it. MegaBus, a subsidiary of British transport firm Stagecoach Group, has an extensive network of curb-to-curb buses across the eastern half of the country. They started with a New York-centered network, and now have services throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Texas. Their buses are clean, modern, and have sort-of-reliable free wi-fi and on-board power outlets. Best of all, the service is cheap, with fares as low as $1 (usually one seat on each bus) and generally in the $20 range.

Of course, since we live on the wrong coast, MegaBus is unfamiliar to most of us Californians. The company did run a Las Vegas-Los Angeles-San Francisco service for a time back in 2007, but it was poorly-marketed and soon cancelled. (I say it was poorly marketed because, as an ardent observer of all things transit, I didn't hear about it until it was facing cancellation.)

That said, there is some great news out today. MegaBus is back-- and not only back in SoCal, but they're introducing new service to Riverside! Service is available on LA-Oakland-SF, LA-San Jose-SF, LA-Riverside-Vegas, and SF-Sacramento-Reno routes. (Note that you can't buy trips for short segments, eg. SF-Oakland, SF-San Jose, or LA-Riverside.) Service will start on December 12th, and the first week's service is all just $1. Beyond that, if you book quick, you'll probably still get the coveted $1 for any travel you have planned. The new buses will serve LA Union Station and the Riverside Downtown Metrolink.

I should also note that MegaBus runs an around-the-clock schedule, with departures from Riverside at 1:30 in the morning. It appears that there are four runs daily in each direction, with every run on the LA-LV route stopping in Riverside.

So, officially, there is a good way to get to Vegas without a car. You should book now!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Grids? Bad idea

Tonight, the City Council formally designated the empty lot across Vine from the Metrolink station as a site for the future multi-modal transit center. This is, unfortunately, after they had to divert $2 million of federal money to the existing downtown terminal due to deadlines. I'm not happy to see a bunch of money poured in to renovating the terminal, because it is still inconveniently far from the Metrolink station, but I suppose a renovated terminal is better than losing $2 million in transit dollars.

Anyway, this designation is a welcome step forward, but I was very concerned to hear that the Council mentioned something about RTA moving towards a grid system during the meeting. I've posted previously on how a grid system works, and how RTA shouldn't be run as a grid due to the geography and funding constraints. Now, unless the Council and RTA are coming up with a way to basically triple the agency's budget (oh please oh please oh please), I hope this grid system talk just goes away.

Furthermore, I am frightened by the fact that Councilman Melendrez, who sits on the RTA board, and City Manager Scott Barber, have no idea what a grid system is.