Man vs Bus

California drivers have it pretty rough don’t they? Anyone who has had to deal with rush hour traffic will tell you that an hour sitting on the freeway or gridlocked in an intersection is an exercise in will power to not just pull your head off your body. How do they ever cope?

The distance from the front door of my house to the Citrus College campus is 4.2 miles, or 13 minutes drive time.  Unfortunately, since I rely on public transportation, that 4.2 miles can vary anywhere from 40 minutes to a two-hour voyage home.

So as I sit at the bus stop on the corner of Citrus Avenue and Arrow Highway where my connecting bus should have been almost 40 minutes ago, I wonder why more people don’t use the buses.

It’s because we actually need to get to where we intend to go – not in two hours- now!

Time is money. Waiting almost 40 minutes for a connecting bus is so detrimental to workers who rely on public transportation.

If we were to show up to work almost an hour late with no explanation we would be fired without a doubt. Why do we not hold public transportation services to the same standard?

Essentially, public transportation is a service provided to us, for us. Bus drivers and executives are public servants. Yet the entire experience is so inconvenient, most of us never even bother to think about taking the bus.

This is not an attack on the idea public transportation as a whole. It is a verbal chastisement of the inefficiency and lack of attention that public transportation receives in the greater LA area.

The concept of public transportation is a great idea, and has made commuting throughout the L.A. area much easier in many ways but has failed in capturing the attention of the public.

In San Francisco, Washington D.C. and New York public transportation runs efficiently and effectively and is widely accepted by the community.

Good, reliable public transportation is an economical way for students to save on expenses that would come from owning a car. Gas, insurance, monthly payments, daily wear and tear can all make car ownership quite a costly hassle.

The biggest difference between the Northern California-based Bay Area Rapid Transit system and our local Foothill Transit lines is the timetable.

According to the Foothill Transit website, the 492 bus, which is one of the most popular bus lines, runs from the El Monte Bus Station to the Montclair Transfer Center via Arrow Highway, and makes stops every 30 minutes.

For a bus line running on one of the busiest streets in the San Gabriel Valley area, 30 minutes in unacceptable, even bus lines running through non-major streets in LA run in 15 minute intervals.

One of the most frustrating aspects of public transportation is the lack of transparency when it comes to late running buses.

I can understand that there are circumstances that cause delays from time to time, but as I was saying what passengers and patrons want most is a reason why. I wouldn’t nearly be as upset about having to wait 20 minutes for a bus if I knew there was a good reason behind it.

We live in an age of information and social media. There is an endless supply of useless information at my fingertips. I can find out when what my friends have for lunch on instagram, but I am left guessing as to why the 492 bus is running late?

I have tried various bus apps that claim to run on GPS satellites and real time information, but there is nothing that really informs regular bus patrons.

If a bus is running late we are just left there to wait, no explanation or reason.

Although Foothill Transit is active on both their Twitter and Facebook accounts and does their best to address their customer needs, I am convinced more can be done to meet and exceed customer’s standards.

What passengers want is convenience and reliability in their public transportation, in an age where I can order a pizza and track it through a mobile app, the fact that Southern Californian public transit companies have not been utilizing a similar service seems like such a disservice to the very customers they are trying to keep using their amenities.

It seems like the executives over at Foothill Transit and the LA Metro need to take some time and reevaluate how to make service consistent and dependable.

I would encourage them to wait at the Arrow Highway/Citrus Avenue bus stop; that should give them plenty of time to reflect.