Monday, August 30, 2010

Crazy Irvine-Corona Tunnel Plans Shelved

For background, RCTC and OCTA were cooking up an 11.5-mile megatunnel under the Cleveland National Forest that would provide 104 feet of traffic right-of-way between Irvine and Corona, along with a tunnel for unspecified rail service. It was slated to connect to the future Mid-County Parkway in Riverside County, and the Eastern Corridor Toll Road in Orange County. Over the last several years, we've spent a little over $7m in federal grant money studying the project.

Well, the study is over, and the agency in charge of the project has voted unanimously to scrap it. Turns out that the cost of the tunnels would run at a spendy $28.3 bn- keep in mind, that's half of the cost of the entire state's high speed rail system. Also, the toll-increment financing method that the agency wanted to use proved untenable. (Personally, I also want to remind OC pols that the last time they tried to build a toll road and count on toll revenues, it didn't work out so well.)

The remaining $7.5 million in grant money can be spent on projects in the CA-91 corridor. I can only hope that that might include expanded Metrolink or bus (216 and 794) service through the canyon... but who am I kidding? This is Orange County. That's freeway money.

Friday, August 27, 2010

We Pay Councilmembers' Gas Bills

Apparently, back in 2007, our enlightened city leaders decided that Councilmembers would be entitled to the use of a city-owned vehicle, complete with city-paid insurance, maintenance, and even gasoline. For the last three years, we've been paying to subsidize the Council's travels, and there isn't even a restriction that they utilize these cars only for City business. The cost of this subsidy runs between $417 and $585 a month, depending on whether or not the driver is Councilman Steve Adams.

Even worse, though, Council salaries have included a $350 per month as long as I'm aware of.

In a city that has been touted as "California's first Emerald City", a city that is working on burnishing its green cred and building transportation alternatives, a city where every City employee is entitled to free transit service just by flashing their ID card (and I can only assume this extends to Councilmembers, as they are City employees)... why are we paying to subsidize the fossil fuelled transportation of our politicians?

I understand that the bus doesn't quite cut it for many of the meetings and business that Councilmembers must attend- distant board meetings and the like. Perhaps a City contract with ZipCar is in order, with City employees given certain allowances on their ZipCards for City business. (This would also help make downtown more livable by bringing ZipCar there.) But for most business, our politicians should enjoy the free transit service we give them, or they should pay for their driving out of their own pockets.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Featured on the HSR Blog!

Daniel Krause, vice-chair of Californians for High-Speed Rail, asked me to write a blog post about the situation that we find ourselves in, with city leaders arguing for a distant greenfield station for HSR, rather than the natural downtown location that ought to be chosen.

Also, while I re-hash many of the issues I have previously addressed here, the post is NOT a re-post of anything I've previously written. Go read it!

There is No Such Thing as a Green Car

From yesterday's Carbusters blog:

The basic point is this: there is no such thing as a green car. It is not sustainable for individuals to hop into a two, four or eight thousand pound metal box for mobility.

I concur.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Help Me Block Car Ads

It has come to my attention that ads for things like the local Jeep dealer, and Progressive car insurance, are popping up on my blog. Google is picky about what sorts of categories of ads you can block- "Video Games" is one, for example, but "Automobile & Suburban Sprawl" is not. Therefore, I have to block these ads on a per-company basis. If you see an ad that is antithetical to the mission of this blog, please let me know what web site it links to.

September Service Changes

The details of the September service changes are out, and the good news is that there aren't any serious cuts to be had. The one major cut is the removal of service on the 25 through Grand Terrace, but replacement service on that route will be provided on the new Omnitrans 325. In fact, since Omni's service changes go into effect on September 7th and RTA's on September 12th, there will actually be a few days of overlapping service. (Yes, I'm going to try and ride through there on one of those days, just for the hell of it.) With that, let's take a look at what's coming next month.

Minor Schedule Adjustments
The following routes have only minor schedule adjustments coming, mostly to improve connections to other routes or local schools and colleges: 1, 7, 8, 16, 18, 19, 20, 22, 40, 41, 51, 79.

Corona Transit Center
The following routes will change routing and schedules in order to provide service to the new Corona Transit Center: 3, 206, 216.

No longer serving Tequesquite Loop
The 29 and 49 will terminate at Downtown Terminal, no longer providing service to Tequesquite and Pine.

14 combined with 25
The 25 will be discontinued, and the 14 will run what used to be its route, serving Highgrove and the Loma Linda VA hospital, but terminating at Tyler Mall. There will be no service through Grand Terrace, with the new route 14 using I-215 and I-10 for service to the VA Hospital.

Pierce Street Shuffle
Because the 14 will no longer serve Pierce & Sterling, the 15 will be extended from Tyler Mall to Pierce & Sterling via Indiana. The 12 will pick up the former 15 routing along Hole and Pierce. All segments will actually see either the same or more frequent service.

New service to Bonsall
The 202 will now serve Hwy. 76 and Camino Del Rey in Bonsall.

Understand that we're not out of the woods yet, but economic forecasts are looking more stable at this time. We may have seen the worst of the transit funding crisis.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

This Week in Transit, 8/22

For those of you who missed it, check out the epic comment thread on this post.
Here's your week in transit.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Another reason to build HSR downtown: to beat Corona.

Back in this post, I talked about some of the reasons to build the HSR station downtown, rather than in bumblefuck nowhere near March Field. (By the way, you should read the comments- the spirited discussion is a vindication of my decision to allow anonymous comments.) Here's another: so we can ensure that we get the station instead of Corona. The High-Speed Rail Authority is required to evaluate potential alignments and station sites in terms of the potential they hold for dense development and connections to existing transportation infrastructure. Well, let's take a look, shall we?

SitePotential for DensityTransportation Connections
March FieldNone- Greenfield set in suburban sprawl1 local bus line, 1 (to-be-built) commuter rail line
Corona (Downtown)Some- I-15 skirts downtown, with potential for infill5 bus lines, one of them express, 2 commuter rail lines
Corona (Dos Lagos)None- Greenfield set in suburban sprawl1 bus line
Riverside (Downtown)Explosive- urban downtown undergoing significant investment10 local bus lines, 5 express bus lines, a planned BRT line, and 4 commuter rail lines

As you can see, the most credible argument that we, as a city, can make to the Rail Authority about why they should choose a Riverside alignment over a Corona alignment is the thing that we have and that Corona lacks- a dense, urban downtown.

Also, many have argued that the Riverside station is a better bet for ridership from the populated areas of the Inland Empire- that Corona, situated on the edge of a mountainous wilderness and a nearly impassible canyon, would be too far away for San Bernardino residents to get to. They're right, of course, but March Field is only better if you believe that people will still be driving well into the 21st century- which I do not. For transit riders, especially from San Bernardino and Rubidoux, a downtown Riverside site is a significant improvement over Corona, with connections via both Metrolink and local bus services. However, getting to a March Field site will be yet another transfer to undoubtedly lousy service on either the Perris Valley Line or infrequent RTA bus service- these riders might find a Corona site much simpler.

In summary, the tension between a downtown Riverside station and a March Field station may be a moot point. It may be a choice between a downtown Riverside station, and one in Corona.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Our long national nightmare is half over.

One of our two wars, the one in Iraq, is officially over. Of course, this is the war that has been "officially over" so many times it's not even funny, but this time the announcement comes accompanied with the sight of American vehicles trundling across the Kuwaiti border 50,000 servicemembers will remain in Iraq for "Operation New Dawn", which is what the military is calling the attempt at training Iraq's military and police forces.

Whether we won or lost the war is a question I will leave to military historians. And, of course, this isn't an ideal situation- I'd much rather see every American out of both Iraq and Afghanistan tomorrow. However, this is a sign that things are moving in the right direction, and a victory for those of us who seek peace.

I look forward to next summer, when President Obama has promised that the same sights will come out of Afghanistan.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Welcome MSJC!

As of today, students of Mount San Jacinto College ride all RTA buses for free, joining the students of UCR, La Sierra, Cal Baptist, and RCC's Riverside and Moreno Valley campuses in RTA's expanding free-ride programs. Unlike the other campuses, however, MSJC students need to ensure that their ID cards carry a valid Go-Pass sticker for the semester.

Students needing instructions on getting a sticker can find them here.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Overheard OnBoard 2010-08-15

Crazy Evangelical at University/Lemon: "The gays, they just like to flaunt it. You'd never see a straight couple, for example, kissing on the bus."

Me: "Speak for yourself, man. I'll kiss my wife on the bus every chance I get."

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Ribbon Cutting!

The new Corona Transit Center will be the site of a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony on September 7th at 10:00. It's going to be exciting to see a project that was nought but dirt earlier this year come to fruition, and this project has been a long time coming. Our local Congress-critter is scheduled to speak, as is Corona Mayor Karen Spiegel and RTA Chair Jeff Comerchero.

RSVPs to the event are requested, and can be sent to Mari Hernandez via e-mail, or at (951) 565-5044.

Also, I note that RTA has provided public transport directions to the site this time, a significant improvement over their last invitation. Could my gentle chiding be getting to them?

Friday, August 13, 2010

New Comment Policy

Since Blogger has now implemented automatic comment spam detection, and since that algorithm seems to finally stop the onslaught of the Chinese spammers (nothing I ever did worked), I am disabling comment registration. Anonymous lurkers, feel free to comment and contribute to the discussion!

If spam increases markedly, I will turn it back on, but I don't see that as a problem.

Killing the Benefits of HSR

Some days I think that our city officials get it. Going to the Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting and listening to the City's plan for bikes-as-transportation was inspiring, and then to learn that they'd already started implementing that plan was downright incredible. Watching the implementation of programs like Riverside Go Transit gives me the warm fuzzies, even if the program hasn't yet been expanded to all those who could benefit. I'm always glad to see an article like this one in the local paper, pointing out just how hard City officials are fighting for a high-speed rail station in Riverside.

And then I read that their definition of "Riverside" is March Field.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the area, here's a map:

View HSR in Riverside in a larger map

The train station to the west is the current station downtown. The train station to the east is the proposed March Field station. Just by looking at it, you can tell that it's in the middle of freakin' nowhere. There is literally nothing within walking distance of those railroad tracks, unless we believe that HSR passengers are going to ride to Riverside to hike in Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park. So let's go take a look at the benefits of the HSR project, and see just why this location is so very, very bad.

  1. HSR provides quicker trips than flying, because of the mess of airport terminal procedures.

  2. Well, this one still works. Airports haven't gotten better, and the speed of the train is going to be about the same no matter where we put the station.

  3. HSR allows for convenient downtown-to-downtown travel.

  4. Putting the HSR station at March Field completely destroys this advantage. Even on a traffic-free day, that site is 20 minutes outside of downtown in a residential development with a K-Mart. Unless business travellers need to get on the HSR for a new pair of socks and a Twinkie, the March Field site is a bad idea. By contrast, a downtown site would put riders within blocks of major state, county and city offices, as well as major business firms, a federal courthouse, and the bulk of the court apparatus of Riverside County.

  5. HSR allows for car-free travel, because it can be tied in to local transportation infrastructure.

  6. Currently, only one bus route serves the March Field site- the 20. The 20 is a relatively low-patronage hourly route that runs along Alessandro and then stops a mile short of downtown at Magnolia & Jurupa. It is so poorly-patronized because of the areas through which it runs- once it passes the Riverside Plaza, it travels through a cemetery, and then plies its way through low-density suburban housing, most of which is literally walled-off from the main street. In Moreno Valley, the route isn't much better, flying past mostly vacant lots, with the occasional suburban strip mall. Don't get me wrong, the 20 is a valuable link in the transportation system, but it will never be a frequent one. Of course, even if the 20 ran frequently, it would place a significant hardship on riders from other areas- think Corona or Perris- who want to get to the train.
    City officials posit that HSR riders can utilize the future Perris Valley Line, which will also use that station site, to get into downtown. However, the PV Line is only scheduled for six runs a day. It's not as if we're talking about a rapid transit line with departures every ten minutes or so. The PV Line will, like all Metrolink lines, be timed to serve commuters, so it is inevitable that it will not do a very good job of serving HSR travellers most of the time. The lack of real intermodal connections at the March Field site will turn it into a sea of parking lots and rental car counters, much like Ontario Airport is today.
    City officials have also argued that the presence of the HSR station will cause more frequent transportation service to call on the area. This is simply untrue. Local transit routes are not supported by single destinations along the line, but by ridership throughout the route. The old streetcar companies knew this so well that they would actually build attractions on their lines to ensure continuous ridership- many of the early amusement parks were built in this manner. The Alessandro corridor is low-density sprawl, and it will not attract enough ridership to support a route frequent enough to meet the needs of HSR riders.
    By contrast, the downtown site is directly linked to the current transportation infrastructure, with dozens of departures an hour to destinations throughout the city and county. It, too, will be a stop on the Perris Valley Line, so if riders from Perris or the Alessandro area would use the PVL to get to HSR, they would still be able to do so. It will also benefit from the extensive CommuterLink express route system, as well as local buses to the entire city and surrounding area.

  7. HSR is a development tool, allowing cities to encourage development and density where they are most needed.

  8. Don't get me wrong- I think that HSR will generate development wherever it is placed, be it March Field or downtown. The question is, what sort of development do we want to encourage? The City has done well in recent years by investing heavily in re-developing downtown Riverside, parking gaffes notwithstanding. The area has the potential to become a bona fide urban downtown, with jobs, restaurants, and housing all within walking distance. A high-speed rail station would be a boon to all of the new residents and employees downtown will see in the coming decades, and would spur even more dense, walkable urban development.
    A station at March Field, by contrast, is an investment in sprawl, by definition. It's a greenfield site, surrounded by single-use auto-dependent development for miles in every direction. There's no reason to build densely- there's plenty of land, and no reason not to use it. There's plenty of space for more parking lots, nice wide arterials nearby, and freeway access immediately adjacent. Density begets density, and sprawl begets sprawl. To site an HSR station in sprawl will only invite more.
    Mayor Loveridge really ought to know better. He was just reading Richard Florida's The Great Reset, in which Florida argues EXACTLY this- that HSR is a tool designed to connect dense downtowns in a larger region. The HSR blog has a great summary of that argument today.

In conclusion, I am strongly in favour of high-speed rail. California wants it, and California needs it. We've needed it for decades. I'm also strongly in favour of HSR in Riverside- the Corona alignment makes absolutely no sense, as it doesn't actually get close to the people who live in the Inland Empire. However, with a $40bn price tag, we need to be actively involved in the project and make sure that it gets built properly. We won't get another shot at this. High-speed rail, by its very nature, is a creature of dense, urban downtowns. It therefore follows that we must ensure that the Riverside station gets built in OUR dense, urban downtown, rather than a greenfield site in the middle of sprawl central.

UPDATE: I've added some lines to the map above so folks can visualize what an approach to downtown would look like, as opposed to March Field. To me, it looks like the alignment through Rubidoux and the current UP alignment would be less technically challenging than the I-215 alignment, and both of them will consist of substantial aerial structure, so they should cost in the same neighbourhoods.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Environmental Catastrophe- Oil Tanker Safely Reaches Port

The Onion takes a satirical look at the only environmental catastrophe worse than an oil spill- a successful delivery.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Alternatives for Grand Terrace

Omnitrans recently posted up the details of their new OmniGO community shuttle service, which will begin serving Yucaipa, Chino and Grand Terrace on 7 September. Most notably, the route 325 will cover what used to be the route of the RTA 25 through Grand Terrace between Iowa/I-215 and the Loma Linda VA Hospital. (This portion of the route will be discontinued in RTA's own service changes next month, in order to cut costs.)

The OmniGo service will have fixed-route fares, is numbered to correspond to the major fixed-route connection that the shuttles serve (365 serving the 65 in Chino, 325 serving the former RTA 25, and 308/309 serving routes 8 and 9 in Yucaipa), and it appears to be timed to make connections to said routes- the 325 is listed with a 70 minute frequency, which happens to be the frequency of the current route 25. (I don't have official confirmation on this, but it stands to reason that it is the case.)

More details at Omni's site.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What to Do With the BP Fines

The Washington Post, among other media outlets, recently reported on the magnitude of the fines that are expected to be levied against BP for the oil-splosion in the Gulf:

If BP is not found to have acted with negligence, the penalty would be $1,100 per barrel. About 4.1 million barrels escaped into the gulf, according to the new estimate, so that fine would come to $4.5 billion. If BP is found to have acted with "gross negligence" in the lead-up to the spill, the maximum penalty would be $4,300 a barrel, which would work out to $17.6 billion.

For comparison's sake, Los Angeles County MTA spends 1.8 billion a year on transit operations. (Page 23 of the 2009 Annual Report, massive PDF warning.) The lower estimate of BP's fine could fund Southern California's largest transit operator for two and a half years, the higher one for nearly a decade. These are not small numbers. Money like this could make a serious dent in funding for all sorts of government programs.

I'm unaware if there is a statutory requirement that these fines go toward certain programs, but if there is, Congress should be encouraged to change it. Since this crisis was caused by our inordinate hunger for oil, the money our government takes in from BP should be used to get our nation off of oil. We should take that $17.6bn and create a grant program for maintaining and expanding transit service and building infrastructure for cycling and walking across this country. For that kind of money, we could build nearly 680 miles of light rail. (Only 302 miles of light rail currently exist in the entire state of California, between the San Diego Trolley, the SPRINTER, Metro Rail, Muni Metro, VTA light rail and Sacramento RT.) We could stripe thousands of miles of bike lanes or build thousands of miles of multi-use path. This money represents an opportunity to make substantial improvements to our transportation infrastructure, lessening the likelihood that a disaster of this sort would happen again.

(Of course, since the Senate Republicans are still ardently practising the Tarantino, this has no chance of passing. They'll probably give the money back to BP in a tax cut.)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

On Bikes, Buses and "Cool"

This blog was started explicitly as a transit blog. (That logo up there? It's a bus stop.) I started writing because I truly, passionately care about our transit system in Riverside. The bus and Metrolink got my wife and I where we needed to go for many years, and there hasn't been a time when I'm not thankful that I live in a place that provides safe, convenient and cost-effective public transit. I think that public transit is essential to the present and future of our society, and I genuinely enjoy riding the bus- it's a great time for me to catch up on reading, playing the odd video game on my cellphone (I have an NES emulator- Super Mario 3 anyone?), or just relaxing and staring out the window.

The way that my advocacy efforts and this blog have evolved over what has been a nearly two-year run so far have me a bit concerned, though. After spending some time in the Los Angeles livable streets blogosphere, and the greater movement, I see a lot of focus on bicycles and bicycling. On this blog, I do discuss bicycle issues (I am a cyclist after all), but I think it's important to make sure bicycles are put in their proper place in a balanced transportation system.

Don't get me wrong. Bikes are awesome. They're cheap, reliable, easy to use, easy to repair, produce zero greenhouse gas emissions, require next to no space to park, and make short trips a breeze, even in suburban auto-dependent hell. They're also a lot of fun, and a great way to get some much-needed exercise- I have lost a couple of inches around the waist since I started cycling for transportation seriously. Bikes are certainly part of the solution, but they are not the whole solution.

The automobile, despite its shortcomings, is a fantastically versatile tool. I have made trips in an automobile that range in destination from the corner store to Vancouver and Brooklyn. We're talking about a transportation system that allows for any vehicle owner to make a journey of nearly any length at any time they choose, and that is something powerful and seductive. I firmly believe that the costs of such mobility far outweigh the benefits, but we need to keep in mind just how impressive a tool for transportation an automobile is, when we are advocating for alternatives.

We will not replace the car with any one mode of transportation. This is not a situation where we can simply swap car for bike and move on. Walking, cycling, local buses, express buses, intercity buses, BRT buses, light rail, heavy rail, commuter and intercity rail, and even taxicabs have their place in the car-free transportation toolbox of the future. I understand that bicycles are "cool" right now, but bikes are simply one piece of this puzzle. We can't favour one mode at the expense of all others- that's how we got into this mess in the first place.

And moreover, we can't neglect certain modes of transport in our toolbox, especially those that are ubiquitous, cheap and versatile. I speak, of course, of the bus. Many who advocate for transportation alternatives today will happily walk to the store, get on a bike or ride a train, but boarding a bus is essentially out of the question. This is unacceptable- the bus is a fact of modern alternative transportation, and for good reason. Riding the bus is currently associated with the extremely poor, and we must work to change that. The fact that Riverside has a Bicycle Advisory Committee and yet no Transit Rider Advisory Committee is very telling- local politicians want to know what cyclists need in infrastructure, but they assume they know what bus riders need. (That's service to the welfare office, social security and unemployment of course.)

In summary, I don't want this to become a "bike blog." Yes, bikes are awesome. No, bikes won't solve our transportation problems alone. Bikes are useful- bikes on the bus, many times moreso. We must, as a movement, put aside the stigma of the bus and work for an efficient, balanced transportation system using whatever tools are available and appropriate.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Downtown Bike Loop

Downtown Bike Loop, originally uploaded by plattypus1.

The new Downtown Bicycle Loop is a roughly 6-mile loop that uses mostly existing striped lanes and the Fairmount-Tequesquite portion of the Santa Ana River Trail. New lanes will be appearing on the southern side of Downtown near 14th street.

The city has designed this path with cyclists in mind. Besides the brilliant signage, pictured above, Public Works has ensured that every bit of the loop in both directions is either on the major phase of stoplights- meaning that you don't have to trigger the light to get a green- or that the loop sensitivity is high enough to detect bicycles. This is really the beginning of a high-quality system of bike routes throughout the city- wayfinding signs are planned to be added to the loop when the 3rd/Blaine bike lanes are complete, noting the connection to UCR.

Below is a map of the new loop. I encourage everyone to get out there and ride it.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Why Car-Free Means "Loser" in American English

There's an excellent article in Slate today (via the Metro Library Blog) that talks about how the notion that cars are inherent in a successful life makes its way into the public consciousness. A hint- it transfers in Hollywood.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

This Week in Transit, 8/1

Here's your week in transit!

Corona Cruiser and Pass Transit on Google Transit

I'm not quite sure when it happened, exactly, but both Corona Cruiser and Pass Transit are now available in Google Transit. The Cruiser is available just like any other transit agency, with bus stop icons on the map with detailed information. The functionality in Banning and Beaumont is in that strange limbo where RTA used to be, with only trip planning functionality but no bus stop icons.

UPDATE: Further complicating matters, it appears that only the Pass Transit routes operated by the City of Banning- routes 1, 5, and 6- are available in Google Transit. Pass Transit 2, 3, 4 and the Cabazon Express are operated by the city of Beaumont, and are not apparently available.

This leaves only two agencies in Riverside County without Google Transit trip planning- Sunline (who says that it's "coming soon") and PVVTA in Blythe.

Summer Transit HOWTO: Museums, Zoos and Other Attractions

The third and final part of my Summer Transit HOWTO series will cover museums, zoos and other attractions in the southland. You can also find and read part 1- amusement parks and part 2- beaches and the outdoors.

As in earlier instalments of this series, all directions are from downtown Riverside.

First off, why not start locally? Downtown Riverside is a veritable treasure trove of museums. The Riverside Metropolitan Museum, the Riverside Art Museum, the UCR-California Museum of Photography, and the Mission Inn Museum all reside right downtown. If you're reading this post after this October, you'll also find the UCR-Culver Centre for the Arts, which will contain the Sweeny Art Gallery among other things. Best of all, you can visit all four of these institutions combined for under $10- the Metropolitan Museum is free ($5 suggested donation), the UCR-CMP is free until September 1st, the Riverside Art Museum is $5, and the Mission Inn Museum is $2 (not including the tour). The Metropolitan Museum, Riverside Art Museum and Mission Inn Museum are all within a block of each other on Mission Inn between Market and Lemon. The UCR-CMP is on the Pedestrian Mall just past University.

Further south in the City is the California Citrus State Historic Park. This working citrus farm celebrates the economic legacy of Riverside and the surrounding region, and is a great place to snag cheap, farm-fresh oranges as well. Best of all, there are no fees for pedestrians or cyclists. Take 1, 10, 12, 13, 14 or 15 to the Galleria at Tyler (1 is usually the quickest, followed by 14) and grab a Hemet-bound 27 to Magnolia & Dufferin, or take the 22 to Van Buren and Trautwein and catch the Riverside-bound 27 in to the same stop. Barring that, the park is only a block or two from the excellent Victoria Avenue bikeway- just take 14th street to Victoria, turn right and keep riding.

The San Bernardino County Museum in Redlands is an excellent institution, with an extensive natural history collection that shows the geological and biological past of the Inland Empire. At only $8, it's a bargain. Take Omni 215 to Mt. Vernon & Centrepoint, then cross the street and grab the Redlands-bound Omni 19 to Redlands & Nevada. Walk north on Nevada to Orange Tree Ln, then west on Orange Tree until you get to the museum. There are also a number of museum remote sites that you can visit- check Google Transit for directions.

For the rock star in you, there's the Fender Museum of Music and the Arts in Corona. The museum is a short walk from the North Main-Corona Metrolink (91 and IE-OC Lines), or you could ride the 1 to Belle & 6th, walk over to Main & 5th and catch either the 3 or the Corona Cruiser Blue Line to the stop adjacent to the Corona Plaza shopping centre, within half a block of the museum.

If you like trains, like I most obviously do, you can visit the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris. Wandering around their extensive collection of the golden age of both passenger rail and streetcars- including what's left of the Los Angeles Electric Railway and Pacific Electric fleets- is free, but on weekends, the museum operates some of their equipment. An all-day pass to ride costs $12. To get there, take the 22 to Perris Transit Centre, walk west on 4th street to A, turn left and walk about a mile to the museum. However, if it's a weekend, you have the option of arriving in style- the museum trains run from 11am to 5pm, and you can simply purchase your ticket at the Perris Depot (adjacent to the Transit Centre) and ride the rails to the museum. (I previously wrote about the OERM, and took lots of pictures on my last visit.)

If your tastes run more to the warm and fuzzy, the Santa Ana Zoo may be just the thing. Joseph Prentice, the man who donated the land for the zoo, did so with the stipulation that the City of Santa Ana keep at least 50 monkeys on site at all times. At an adult admission price of $8, that's 16 cents per monkey. Take the Metrolink IE-OC Line to Santa Ana station, then either walk the ~1.2 miles to the zoo (east on Fruit St., then right on Eastwood Ave., left on 4th St., right on Grand, left on 1st and right on Elk) or catch the OCTA 59 on Santa Ana Blvd. (just walk north on the Metrolink platform to the street, then turn left) to Grand & Chestnut, then cross the street and walk east on Chestnut to the zoo.

There are, of course, plentiful museums and attractions in Los Angeles. For all of these, you'll need to ride the Metrolink to Union Station. On weekdays, take the Riverside Line directly there. On weekends, you'll need to ride the IE-OC line to Orange and then the OC line north, or take the Omni 215 to San Bernardino, walk or take the Omni 4 to the San Bernardino Metrolink and ride the San Bernardino line to LA. All directions for the following attractions are given from Union Station.

The Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown Los Angeles features a wide variety of, well, contemporary art. The museum is spread across two sites. The MOCA Grand Center is located at Grand & 3rd, a short walk from the Civic Center station on the Red and Purple Lines. From the station, walk northwest on 1st to Grand, and then southwest on Grand to the museum. For the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, take the Gold Line towards Soto and get off at Little Tokyo/Arts District. Walk northwest on 1st and turn right at the plaza between the buildings. Adult admission is $10 and is valid at both sites, and admission is two-for-one with your valid transit ticket. (Note- to get from one to the other, just walk the ~6 blocks down 1st street, or take the Metro 30 from Broadway & 1st to San Pedro & 1st.)

The Los Angeles Natural History Museum and the California Science Center are both located in Exposition Park, across from the USC campus. Each have enough science-y goodness to delight any geek or geek in training. Take the Metro Red or Purple Line to 7th/Metro Center and catch the LADOT DASH F from 7th/Flower to Exposition Park. Note that this part of the route is a turnaround loop- to go home, board at the same stop where you were dropped off. Dani and I got stranded in Los Angeles once because we didn't know this. (With the newly-completed Exposition Line, simply transfer to that at 7th/Metro, exiting at either Expo Park/USC or Expo/Vermont.) Show your valid transit ticket for $2 off admission to the Mummies of the World exhibit at the Cal Science Center.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits are on opposite sides of a park from each other. Satisfy your curiosity about the art of the past century, or the flora and fauna of the last Ice Age, with one convenient bus trip. Take the Metro Red or Purple Line to Wilshire/Vermont, then catch the Metro 720 or 920 Rapid to Wilshire & Fairfax. Walk back the way you came to get to the Page Museum. LACMA is behind the field of street lights.

Griffith Observatory is an astronomy geek's dream. The site has been a centre for public education about the stars since the turn of last century, and continues to stun visitors after its recent renovation. Unless you're a big, big fan of hiking, this is a weekends-only trip. Take the Metro Red Line to Vermont/Sunset, then grab the LADOT DASH Griffith Park Shuttle, which will take you straight to the observatory. This route is not in Google Transit, so do your own trip planning.

The Huntington Library in San Marino, CA is an art museum and botanical garden of the highest calibre, and has one of the most popular museum free days in the area (1st Thursday, reservations required, August is already sold out). Unfortunately, it isn't terribly easy to get to on transit, but if you feel like 1.5 miles worth of walking, take the Metro Gold Line to Allen and either start walking south on Allen or catch the Pasadena ARTS #10 to Del Mar & Allen, then start walking.

Finally, Los Angeles also has a zoo. Take the Metro Red Line to Universal City, then the Metro 96 to the zoo. Keep your transit ticket- it's good for $3 off the $14 adult admission charge.

Oh, and a special mention to a location that ought to be on here, but isn't- the Getty Center Los Angeles is one of the premiere art museums in the country, if not the world, and it's free. So why not include it in this guide? The transit trip to the Getty is over 5 hours. With Metrolink being Metrolink, by the time you get to the museum, you'd have a whole half an hour there before having to turn around and come back- barely enough time to ride the tram from the entrance gate to the museum grounds. For the curious, it's a ride on the Red line to Universal City, then a trip on the 750 to Ventura/Sepulveda and the 761 south to the museum. DO NOT TRY THIS, unless you have somebody bringing you home. If you want to take transit to the Getty, advocate for the Subway to the Sea- phase one of the Purple Line will bring riders to Wilshire/Westwood, where you could catch the 761. In the meantime, you could snag a ZipCar.

As always, standard disclaimers apply. Plan your trip carefully, and make sure you're not so lost in your outing that you miss the last bus home. RiR is not responsible for bad trip planning.