Patriot citizens offer big, yet inexpensive lessons for government transportation agencies. As gas prices go up, we can use complete transit agency system maps.
A group of transit patriots from all over the state teamed up and produced what the government has not: A
state-wide transit map linking major California destinations via
rail and major connecting buses. The actual map was produced and
released last November.
However, the map inspired The Atlantic Media Company, a group exploring
innovative ideas, to contact the map developer Alfred Twu and see if it
was possible to travel from the Mexico border all the way up into Oregon
only riding public transportation trains and buses. Although the map
illustrates Amtrak train routes and major private sector inter-city
connectors, the itinerary would exclude these modes.
Twu concluded that such a trip was impractical, but certainly possible:
From the southern border crossing at San Ysidro, take the San Diego
Trolley to downtown San Diego, connect to the NCTD Coaster, and then
transfer to Metrolink at
Oceanside. From there, ride Metrolink through Los Angeles Union Station
to Lancaster. After that, take some
Eastern Sierra Transit Authority buses up US Route 395 to Reno. From Reno, take the
Sage Stage bus system into Oregon. According to The Atlantic Media
Company, the journey would take over 32 hours, span 480 miles, and cost
$41.25. Not to worry, there's a selection of private sector inter-city
lines available as a
speedy alternative according to Twu's map, yet there are still several
transit gaps. The Transit Coalition, for example, continues to advocate
for public agencies to clear the way for private carriers to serve the
Los Angeles-to-San Diego
inland corridor via the I-15 Freeway.
Public transportation agencies also have much to learn from this mapping
project. As prices at the gas pump rise, so too will be a surge in the
number of people switching to public transportation. The riding public
will need agency system transit maps that are complete with both
agency-operated and connecting inter-agency routes. By including these
routes on their system maps, transit agencies could better educate
riders of available routes and thus improve the
productivity of their systems at minimal cost. For instance, one would
never know that an Omnitrans express bus between Riverside and San
Bernardino existed just by looking at
this RTA system map. Likewise, how would a San Bernardino County bus
rider headed from Ontario to Corona know where to transfer to RTA buses
based on the
Omnitrans system map alone? OCTA's map leaves this important question:
Where's the Metro Line 460 connection into Los Angeles? A resident
who lives in Santa Ana and works in LA would more likely travel by bus
if he saw Line 460, an all-day local-plus-express hybrid route, on his
local agency's bus route map.
In contrast, Foothill Transit smartly illustrates not only its
agency-operated lines, but all other connecting inter-agency routes on
system map, thus making bus trip planning in the San Gabriel Valley more efficient.
Los Angeles Metro does likewise. Public transit agencies throughout
Southern California should therefore make it a standard practice to
include connecting inter-agency routes on their official system maps.
Twu's state-wide map clearly
shows the public benefit and with gas prices once again going through
the roof, the public needs to be made more aware of their travel options
without having to refer to several maps of multiple transit operators.