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Bus Transit Efficiency in Temecula & Murrieta
(10/9/2012)

The cities and RTA should straighten up the routes to attract riders.



Looking to get more people to ride its local buses, the Riverside Transit Agency launched a promotional campaign for the Murrieta and Temecula area which allows local residents and employees to try out the bus for free during the month of October. RTA ran ads in local newspapers and mailed out flyers in the area. Each ad had a coupon good toward an RTA day pass which could be redeemed aboard two of the area's local bus lines, Route 23 or 24. Both routes have seen substantial ridership gains; however, productivity performance for these routes remains a bit lackluster.

Fix the Circuitous Bus Routes:
Local area bus riders have attested in the past that both of these routes are extremely long and slow, or more accurately, very circuitous. Circuitous local bus routes have many loops and extensions, are difficult to understand, and use excessive resources. This explains why Routes 23 and 24 averaged less than 8.5 passenger boardings per hour combined with a high subsidy-per-passenger rate during the month of August despite the reported ridership gains.

Studies Back Straighter Bus Routing:
Two 2007 studies, one local, one federal, confirm that Murrieta's and Temecula's bus routes should be more direct. However, one doesn't even need these studies as evidence. The RTA System Map already shows the overwhelmingly circuitous nature of Routes 23 and 24 and local trips between southern Temecula and northern Murrieta can last in excess of 1 1/2 to 2 hours according to RTA route timetables.

Here's the reality: No choice rider would want to spend well over an hour aboard a bus for a 5-7 mile local trip. If RTA and the local cities desire to incline more patrons to ride the bus in Southwest Riverside County, each of the public entities must consider ways to simplify and streamline the area's local bus routes to offer more direct and bidirectional connections while also reducing unproductive costs and maintaining local transit mobility. Streamlined bus routing with through-service at the proposed Twin Cities Transit Center and timed transfers to connecting routes would significantly speed up trips. Travel times between major activity centers would then be reduced dramatically. That's how the public can be inclined to patronize the local bus system.
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