This was another column I submitted to the Highlander, but it did not make the cut.
Our campus is growing each year. Parking is one obvious factor that gets worse as the years go by. New buildings have taken away parking spaces close to campus where transportation hub number one becomes the de facto choice for parking. Not all of us utilize the mass transit system that helps to get motorists off the street. The loss of individual freedom in where you want to go is one reason why many individuals still keep on using their automobiles. We come to campus from many different places, but for those who do not live close to UC Riverside commuting with mass transit is not pretty. People who I have come across mention one word when one has to travel a long trip which is the Metrolink commuter rail system. Metrolink has done wonders for the people who wish to avoid the 91 freeway when commuting to Los Angeles or Orange County, but there is a strong bias for those suburbanites who could not afford living in those counties. Looking at the San Bernardino line which goes from San Bernardino to Los Angeles and the Riverside line which goes from Riverside to Los Angeles the trips are not evenly balanced throughout the day. This leads to some to consider the bus system, which also has it’s benefits and it’s flaws.
Mass transit has its benefits. You can unwind by reading your assignments for class and get them done by the time you get home. Environmentalists will also like the fact that Riverside Transit Agency uses Clean Natural Gas fuel. The bus stop is located near Lothian Hall or Banockburn placed near the campus compared to the majority who has to use the transportation hubs. Parking services will gladly sell students, staff and faculty the necessary passes from Metrolink and the Riverside Transit Agency. The problem with fixed route service is if you are not taking a direct connection to the destination you need to go to you may end up waiting for the difference between the other bus. You are able to attend over 75 percent of the classes on campus without the need for a car, but for some you may have to take your car to class or beg for the kindness of strangers for a ride back.
The way home is also a problem because the bus operators are not likely to make their destinations during the approximate time. Traffic congestion at night has made bus service intolerable for many. Route 16 from Moreno Valley going to Downtown Riverside on Iowa and University around 5:10pm has been consistently late ever since October 2001. Route 100, a freeway express route to San Bernardino operated by Omnitrans fluctuates like the lottery due to it’s use of the freeway. The 91 freeway makes up a significant portion of the route and during rush hour I have cringed when I have missed my connection due to bottle neck traffic.
The late bus unfortunately causes missed connections to the routes needed to finish the journey. Los Angeles County has a superior transportation operation that makes life easier without a car a better option. Unlike San Bernardino and Riverside County most of the routes in Los Angeles County have a better frequency interval that makes getting to your destination painless along with 24 hour service for a half dozen routes. Unfortunately Southern California is not New York City, a car is strongly recommended. If these inconveniences can be fixed for the rail and bus system then the university population would reconsider using their vehicles to lighten the loan on the roads. First, Metrolink needs to partner with neighboring mass transit agencies to consider bus routes to supplement service during off peak hours. Second, the Riverside Transit Agency should consider signal manipulation technology as demonstrated with the Los Angeles MTA in their Metro Rapid may be necessary for RTA’s high demand routes. If the agencies can do the above then mass transportation will become a positive option for all.