When a Planner Commutes by Bus: Score Card
For many urbanists, walking the talk regarding an urban, transit oriented life style while remaining gainfully employed means a reverse commute, i.e., commuting from a downtown home to a job in the suburbs. Such a commute can be more difficult to accomplish via public transit than a traditional commute. Nearly all cities are the center of local and regional transit lines, including light rail. On the suburban ends of such transit lines are often park-n-ride lots and connecting transit routes to capture suburban residents who don't live adjacent to the direct transit routes to urban centers. Of course, the "last mile" remains a conundrum in much of American transit commuting, but it is arguably worse for those having to accomplish a reverse commute. One's personal car can be used to address the first mile gap in a transit commute but not the last mile gap.
When transit user, downtown resident, and L.A. County planner Clement Lau's office was moved from Koreatown to Alhambra, his public transit commute became a rather time consuming multi-leg endeavor. His new Alhambra workplace is only reachable from downtown by using, at least part of the way, an automobile or bus. Nevertheless, his walk-subway-bus-walk commute has some hidden rewards. On the other hand, he has become fully aware of the hierarchy of public perception about transit modes, with buses occupying (unfairly) the bottom rung. Nevertheless, he believes there are some significant opportunities for improving the L.A. bus network, without major infrastructure expenditures. For example, improvement is needed in the areas of reliability, scheduling, and communicating with users, and getting real time information to them when there are delays. To read more of his observations and recommendations, please see the source article.