I happened to pick up the September/October 2008 edition of the Greater Santa Ana Business Alliance's newsletter CityLine at The Depot at Santa Ana, and they had a fascinating article titled "Light Rail System Moving Closer to Reality." In essence, light rail will be a reality in five years, from the Metrolink station to Garden Grove: read more→
Orange County Transit
One of the great things about rapid buses is that with introduction of rapid bus service, most transit agencies push a fresher, more hip transit marketing effort. Take Metro. I'm a big fan of their style, and it's not undeserved: their work has won them a 10-page exposé in Communication Arts magazine's Interactive Annual 12. read more→
Kudos to Metrolink for testing out sending system status alerts using bleeding-edge SMS text messages. According to Metrolink's post on Twitter,
We've been sending ‘tweets’ to our ‘followers’ since mid-August 2008 as a pilot program and we plan to continue to test Twitter's effectiveness over the next few months but we need your feedback. But first you have to subscribe. Visit twitter.com to learn how to set up your free account. Next, use your cell phone or computer and send the following message to 40404: follow Metrolink. You should get a confirmation that you are now following Metrolink.
What kind of messages does Metrolink send out? Take a look at their web feed at http://twitter.com/metrolink and you'll find nuggets such as "Antel. Vall. Line Train 222 is 28 min. late out of Lancaster". This is the kind of quality up-to-the-minute information commuters have been craving for when they've found out their train has been delayed for an ambiguous amount of time, and information that should be on every LED display at every station!
(By the way, this initiative is similar to the Caltrain twitter feed that Ravi Pina, a Tellme, set up, except his feed is user-powered and includes bits of train commentary like alerts for crotchety train conductors: http://twitter.com/caltrain ) read more→
Bravo! has a bright future ahead of it. OCTA's already talking about adding 6 additional rapid bus lines and 3 or 4 bus rapid transit or light rail lines to northwestern Orange County. Both OCTA and Los Angeles's Metro want to improve transportation between Los Angeles County and Orange County. read more→
I noticed there's some OCTA talk about making Metrolink-Amtrak-Coaster train services easier to use for first-time riders. They recently did focus group studies on how they could improve service along the LOSSAN corridor. In a memo on August 14, 2008 with the subject "Los Angeles-San Diego Rail Corridor Service Integration Focus Group Findings," OCTA notes that: read more→
A notable omission to Bravo! is the lack of a connection to John Wayne Airport. The closest it gets is Von Karman/Michelson, which is a pretty far walk from the airport. Its current route serves a lot of office complexes, but this would mostly be an area more appropriately served by commuter lines.
Another odd addition I've noticed is that Irvine Metrolink/Amtrak Station has a rapid bus connection. I've never seen stations so far away get this much attention, especially since the station was built primarily for commuters taking Metrolink. Irvine was built for cars and is nowhere near a walkable, sustainable community. Bus service within Irvine is notoriously infrequent (Irvine buses such as route 175 come every SEVENTY minutes). So having this suburban rapid bus connection makes no sense. It only seems to work if the Bravo Green Line operates primarily short trips.
Plus, I can't help but mention that we UC Irvine students are ready for more rapid transit options, but we're unfortunately stuck with the anemic ASUCI Shuttle system and a handful of commuter and community OCTA routes (read: infrequent service). Riders on line 79, which descends from Tustin through UC Irvine, must travel in standing-room only crowds in the mornings, but the bus comes every half hour to every hour. I wish UC Irvine had more green options. read more→
OCTA's planning on opening its very first bus rapid line, Bravo!, next year along Harbor Boulevard, with future lines along Bristol/State College Blvd and along 17th/Westminster. This is a huge step forward for transit in Orange County as this is its first local-limited pair bus line and will attract even more riders. Even better, their lines hit a lot of attractive destinations, including the Irvine Spectrum, Disneyland, South Coast Plaza, UCI Medical Center, Balboa Peninsula, plus numerous Metrolink and Amtrak train stations, where transfers will be a breeze once 30-minute train service starts in a few years. read more→
Finally, an update! (and a drawing for the first time in years.)
I didn't quite know what to do with this website for the longest time — and, in fact, I still don't. The most effective websites, I've found, offer a wealth of content for a specific niche, but for me, what exactly would my niche be? For awhile I toyed with starting my own freelancing business, but then I got employed by a wonderful 300-person Silicon Valley start-up and we got acquired by Microsoft. Then I thought of starting a "study hacks" weblog, even going so far as to register the domain name. And then, school happened. Compound this with the fact that Carolen says I'm likely in a "quarter life crisis": is there one single thing I'm interested in, that I can create a website around? A topic that can define me? I love so many different things that it's hard.
So, I'd like to start by picking a subtopic in my blog and seeing where this leads me. Transit in Orange County. I can't find another website dedicated to such an important topic in a county where cars are revered. With bus and train ridership shooting through the roof thanks to increased gas prices, plus all the cool transportation projects in the works, it's a topic ripe for discussion. I'll discuss news items, projects in the works, and tips for making transit work for you (if you happen to be in Orange County).
In the meantime, welcome to my website. I hope you enjoy the redesign. read more→
Public transit — especially in Santa Clara County — suffers a very negative image because it's billed as a form of transportation for the disabled, the impaired, the poor, or the senior who gave up driving. It's billed as difficult to use. It's billed as “ghetto” and unsavory. Though there are lots and lots of factors that make transit very unattractive, let's focus on one thing: does it look sexy? read more→