Things were relatively quiet in terms of public transportation in the Inland Empire during the Thanksgiving weekend. However private sector bus carriers stood out in the news.
Greyhound for example reported growing popularity on its newer bus fleets over the holiday. The Press Enterprise interviewed waiting passengers at the Riverside Downtown bus terminal and found that they find convenience in taking the bus for their holiday travel needs. We've also conducted field studies aboard several private sector coaches in the past and find that spending a few extra hours on the bus is a lot better than dealing with the plummeting air service.
The bus ridership growth boils down to this. Passengers who elect to take the bus do not want to put up with the airport madness and expensive fares for short and mid-haul trips. Even though the bus may not win the race, going Greyhound, riding the Megabus or any other private coach is less stressful. Carriers are capitalizing on this.
Greyhound bus passengers headed to northern portions of the state said they preferred the bus over the train simply because there's no direct rail connection between Sylmar and Bakersfield. Gee, we wonder how that can be solved. Oh yeah, high speed rail done right. Follow this link and scroll down for a detailed analysis of the numerous benefits of running high speed trains through the Tejon Pass. Amtrak does operate the Coast Starlight between Los Angeles and points north along the coast but the train bypasses destinations in the San Joaquin Valley. Closing the rail gap through the Tejon Pass combined with local infrastructure improvements could one day make the backbone rail line profitable as ridership on the existing intercity lines would soar. Private investors would thus be inclined to pour more capital into California's rail transit system.
Back to intercity buses. If this growth pattern continues, we may be seeing more robust marketplace competition for intercity bus travel very soon. However, it is certainly in the public's interest that such carriers pick up passengers at or close to existing public transit hubs. We advocate for public officials to make both streetside and open bus bays at Inland Empire transit centers and major transfer points available for the private sector coaches which would considerably improve express bus transit options for riders at minimal public costs.