|One Sweet Ride: San Diego MTS BRT Rapid Route 235 bypasses stopped traffic in Escondido in the I-15 Express Lanes during the afternoon rush hour. Commuters were resting and socializing on board after a hard day's work.|
Transit Talking Points by: Nicholas Ventrone, Community Engagement Director
One common complaint I hear from commuters is that ridesharing to work such as taking transit or riding in a vanpool adds too much time to an already long commute, even with the presence of high occupancy vehicle lane infrastructure and Metrolink regional rail service. The dissents are understandable. A commute between Wildomar and Irvine can last in excess of 90 minutes to 2 hours each way by driving alone. With a commuter vanpool, add in about a 5-10 minute layover at each Park & Ride stop. With RTA CommuterLink and Metrolink transit add in anywhere from 30-60 minutes for the added layovers, transfers and stops.
But with the added commute times can come something productive and that is why commuter-oriented amenities need to be available on transit fleets, and such mobile telecommuting should be encouraged by employers so that commuters can get work done while on the road or rails.
Rush Hour Transit Field Study: Riverside County to Kearny Mesa
Last week, I had an all day appointment in the Kearny Mesa area in San Diego County. Since this region is a job-rich spot with many of its workers commuting out of Southwest Riverside County, I knew I had some choices to get up and down this major commuter corridor known as the I-15 freeway.
|I-15 Express Lanes BRT: Del Lago Transit Station Direct Access Ramp during the AM rush hour.|
Planning a private carpool for a single roundtrip was out of the question. Normally, organizing such a carpool with a stranger takes time to plan.
That leaves taking the bus. Being a transit advocate, I knew there were peak-hour express options to get between the Inland Empire and San Diego County fairly quickly. Here is a run-down of the itinerary:
Arrive Temecula Harveston Park - 7:00AM
RTA Route 217 - 7:06AM ($3 Fare One Way)
Arrive Escondido Transit Center - 7:55AM
MTS Rapid 235/I-15 Express Lanes BRT - 8:17AM ($5 Regional Day Pass from Sprinter TVM)
Arrive Kearny Mesa Transit Center - 9:02AM
Finish Appointment/Arrive Kearny Mesa Transit Center - 4:00PM
MTS Rapid 235/I-15 Express Lanes BRT - 4:15PM (Use Day Pass)
Arrive Escondido Transit Center - 5:17PM
RTA Route 217 - 5:30PM ($3 Fare One Way)
Arrive Temecula Harveston Park - 6:17PM
As you can see, the bus commute time with the layovers plus the time to/from the Park & Ride lot is over 2 hours. This is commonly a valid excuse of why many commuters don't take the bus. Many don't want to be on the road that long doing nothing. But that does not mean that commuters are stuck doing nothing. The added time can easily be neutralized and made productive. Not to mention my transit fare for the entire day spanning almost 100 miles roundtrip was only $11, and that's the full general public fare.
Yes, taking the bus or train generally takes longer than driving solo door-to-door. But that does not mean that those extra minutes on the road or rails have to be wasted. When one drives alone long distances to/from work every day in rush hour traffic by spending over 1-2 hours each day on the road, that is generally time wasted. 90 minutes each way or 3 hours round trip of doing nothing but driving during the rush hour was too much for me. Yes, there's the radio. Yes, there's hands-free devices for phone calls. But because of the limited productivity options available for solo drivers, too much time gets wasted on the road. For a sane, productive and stress-free commute, the time behind the wheel should be no more than 30-45 minutes each way. Last month's series on smart growth addressed that. Also, to be fair, many district managers and workers who work in the service sector who need to haul their tools and belongings to various worksites throughout the day are often paid for their mileage traveled.
|Photo: Riverside Transit Agency|
Besides work, there's productive leisure that riders can take advantage of too. Many commuters resort to taking a power nap for extra shut eye. Others may catch up on the news. Some socialize and make friends with the other passengers.
The Riverside Transit Agency has a few mottoes for its CommuterLink express bus services. They are "Enjoy Rush Hour: The Riverside Transit Agency is making the miserable commute a thing of the past." and "Take a stand against traffic. Ride an express bus." I was not in a position into driving solo in miserable rush hour traffic for nearly 3 hours. I had other things to do during the time span. That's why I elected to take the bus to my Kearny Mesa appointment last week.