Monday, August 22, 2011

Every Hour, Near the Hour

I live a block away from a busy intersection on Balboa Blvd in the Valley. Balboa Blvd is an artery that services Nordhoff Blvd and Ventura Blvd - one being a major artery to California State University, Northridge; the other being a major, major artery alongside the 101 freeway, to many businesses/restaurants/grocery stores, and of course, Metro itself - rapid bus 750 and local buses 150/240.

My question is this: why does local bus 236/237 run every hour, near the hour? Near the hour is not of importance - why does it run once an hour?

I don't think I need to go into why I'm asking this question. The reason it is being asked should be plain enough.

If you miss the bus or the bus is late, it can prove to be quite a damper on one's day. Very often have I seen and passed by people multiple times within the hour only to see them still standing, waiting for the bus. Who has time to wait 45+ minutes for a bus to arrive? Just in case it wasn't common knowledge, nobody gets their kicks from being stranded.

Balboa isn't the only street to be affected by poor transportation planning. White Oak Ave, another street I lived very close to, is in the same situation. Winnetka Ave and De Soto Ave are also subject to this - there's no bus that even goes up Woodley Ave, at least not along its entire length.

With the exception of Reseda and Van Nuys Blvd, that I am personally experienced with, most streets heading in a north-south direction in the Valley are grossly under-serviced by Metro. (Sepulveda's local bus at least runs slightly consistently, but Metro recently stopped service of its Rapid line.) The east-west direction streets - although not up to par as they should be given the population and the need - are better serviced, but that's not saying much when your connecting bus heading north-south isn't arriving for a while.

Every-hour-service during the day. Does this make sense to anyone? Metro regularly toots its own horn about its frequent service, most of which takes place Downtown. Unfortunately not everyone works, lives, and plays there. And while the Orange, Red, Green, Gold, Purple and Blue Lines are awesome in their own right, with local service lacking, it is laughable to deliver oneself such praise.

Sadly, this is not news.

This is NOT okay.

Who OK'd this?

And how do we fix this?


  1. You are right that this is not OK. Transit riders need to organize ourselves to get fair funding for transit.

  2. It's a funding issue no doubt. I have seen this happen where I live and in my former city. The price of gas goes up so service is cut back or some routes eliminated. Much of federal funding for public transit does not cover operating costs but cost for buses. A voter approved measure in my city increased sales taxes to fund, among other transit needs, the cost of hybrid electric buses. While I support hybrid electric transit, I think the better option would have been to retrofit diesel buses to run on biodeisel or recycles veg oil, spending less on buses and improving circulation times and extending routes to cover unserved areas (like mine). I'm already one of the converted so I have no misconceptions about riding a bus but those with no experience riding a city bus need a good deal of education about it. The uninitiated aren't going to try riding a bus if they have to wait an hour between buses. Improved ridership does make a difference in preserving levels of service.

    I have a coworker who insists that people who ride buses are dirty, crazy and unemployed. I pointed out that I rode the bus daily in Louisville and that it was quite pleasant and relaxing. When I asked my coworker, he admitted that he had never ridden a city bus! Unfortunately, I think those routes that go through low income neighborhoods where residents are more vulnerable to unemployment are more at risk for service cuts.

    I also think that bus riders have to be prepared to pay a little extra and employers need to do more to encourage their employees to use the bus by providing subsidies to cover the purchase of monthly or annual passes. Downtown Louisville makes it pretty expensive for people to park all day so downtown routes are usually quite full.

    I think the best options are for you to be advocate as a rider and a voter by attending the monthly meetings of your public transit organization, perhaps even join their board or commission. Write letters to the editor. Contact your Councilperson and let him or her know you care about this issue and if there is a citizens advocacy group for public transit, join and add your voice to the cause.