Friday, May 27, 2011

Connecting Desert Communities

One problem with San Bernardino County's smaller, more rural transit providers is the fact that they operate as islands, failing to provide inter-regional connections that are critical for many local residents. Anyone from the Victor Valley knows that it is difficult to live your life entirely within its confines, and that journeys "down the hill" to the more urbanized areas of the Inland Empire are commonplace for most. A good portion of Victor Valley residents commute "down the hill" as well. Similarly, residents in both the Victor Valley and Barstow have social, economic and governmental reasons for taking trips between both communities- I took my first driver's license exam at the Barstow DMV, for example. (I failed that time, later passing in Victorville.)

Unfortunately, for anyone in the Victor Valley or Barstow areas who finds themselves without access to a car, there was essentially no regional transit service in the desert communities. The Victor Valley Commuter service, which used to run weekday peak-hours between various points in the Victor Valley, was discontinued many years ago due to low ridership. (I've discussed why in a previous post.) Greyhound is an option, but not a terribly convenient one for bus riders as most local buses don't serve the (admittedly very nice) terminal. Amtrak does serve Victorville with one train daily, but the arrival times don't connect with local transit service for service to LA. (With a few hours' waiting at the station, you could use transit to connect to/from service to points east.)

At least one glaring hole in the transit network has been closed, though. No, sadly, it is not the Victor Valley-San Bernardino bus that I'd really love to see- although SANBAG has concluded their Commuter Needs Study and will hopefully start something up soon. However, the Victor Valley Transit Authority now provides service on the "B-V Link" route, connecting Victorville with Barstow. Fare is $6 each way, and it includes a transfer to all VVTA and BAT routes. Unlike the VV Commuter, this service is designed to connect with major destinations and transit services, linking VVTA's transfer points at the Victor Valley Mall and 7th and Lorene with BAT's transfer point at City Hall, as well as major medical destinations and Barstow's Senior Centre. Of course, it only runs three days a week... but you've gotta start somewhere.

I wonder if they use the Metroliners that used to run the Commuter service...

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

"I wonder if they use the Metroliners that used to run the Commuter service...", All Neoplan AN345's were aquired by Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) for thier Commuter Express service.

JN said...

Thanks, anon. That means the ride to Barstow has got to be pretty uncomfortable...