Metro is taking a survey in preparation for its new Long-Range Plan, which Victor Obeso generously talked with us about a few months ago. The Long-Range Plan, which is separate from Metro’s short-term Strategic Plan, will be the agency’s first long-range plan in decades. The last day to take the survey is Sunday, August 9. We encourage all STB readers to weigh in today, no matter how (or whether) you use the bus, and no matter whether you typically agree with our views or not.
A bit more about some of my own answers below the jump, for those who are interested.
4 + 5. For what, and when, do I want to use the bus? For everything! The more trips for which I can use the bus, the better. I wanted to check all of the boxes in response to both of these questions. But I decided against it for the “when” question, because I want to emphasize to Metro just how important usable night and weekend service is to true mobility. I checked “late at night” and both weekend boxes.
7. Why do I dislike peak express service? Well, the answer is really “because it’s so expensive per passenger it serves.” But that’s not one of the choices. The best is “because I have to wait longer for a bus during non-peak times.” Service hours devoted to a single express trip and its accompanying deadhead could often provide multiple trips on a local route, dramatically increasing possible frequency. Similarly, on question 8, I answered that more express service would make me ride the bus less often, because it implies a worse all-day network. If I have to wait for a half-hourly bus off-peak, chances are good I’m going to drive my car instead, especially for trips within my local area where parking is easy.
10. Why do I dislike infrequent local service? It’s too slow. I would prefer more frequent service along fewer corridors, even if I have to walk a bit further. Infrequent service is slow enough that driving is often much faster, particularly if you can’t plan your departure or return time carefully in advance.
12. Why do I like frequent service? I couldn’t resist checking “other” here in order to enter “all of the above.” Frequent service along major corridors is the type of service that enables trips between any two destinations at all times of day and on all days of the week, without planning in advance, and without undue delays. If both lines of a transfer are frequent, the transfer is far less painful; for that reason, frequency is what changes transit from something that can take you to just a couple of places into something that opens up the entire county without need for a car. I would ride the bus far more often if a frequent network were available to take me to every major destination, not just two downtowns.
15. What is the ideal service mix? On the LRP website, Metro proposes three different distributions of frequent, express and local service: frequent emphasis (F 70%/E 5%/L 25%), express emphasis (F 25%/E 50%/L 25%), and local emphasis (F 25%/E 15%/L 60%). The current network is in between these extremes, by my calculation approximately F 40%/E 30%/L 30% depending on how you define the categories. My view is even more pro-frequent corridors than Metro’s frequent-emphasis scenario: I asked for 80% frequent, 10% local, and 10% express. To a very rough approximation (with a bit more express service) this is what you will find in the network plans I’ve prepared.
16. What are your capital improvement priorities? Metro provides seven potential capital priorities here. I care about four of them, and I think all four are important, so I have a hard time ranking them. My first four are f) new grade-separated transit ROWs, a) speed/reliability improvements on arterials, e) pedestrian/bike improvements, and g) new information technology. I find these four clearly more important than the other three. In Question 17, I also requested stop consolidation along frequent corridors.
18. How can Metro improve intermodal connections? Metro provided two right answers here, and each implies the other. “Reducing travel time” and “making transfers easier” go hand-in-hand.
Again, the survey closes Sunday. Please take it! Your answers will influence major decisions by Metro, with far-reaching long-term effects.