The Week in Livable Streets Events: Explore Metrolink with So.CA.TA.

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The day after Thanksgiving is a unique day. It is not a holiday
but many people get it off. Yet regular weekday transit service
generally operates. It presents a rare chance to explore transit in far
flung areas and ride services that only operate Monday to Friday
without having to take a day off from work.

It was in 1995 that Charles Hobbs, a long time member of Southern
California Transit Advocates, noted the foregoing in suggesting the
group undertake a Day After Thanksgiving study tour. Thus started what
has become an annual tradition. Generally in October interested members
caucus and vote
on where to go on the Day After Thanksgiving. Usually
3-5 proposals prepared by members vie to be the choice that year.Over the years the destinations have included:

1995 – Ventura County
1996 – Banning (Riverside County)
1997 – San Diego
1998 – Santa Barbara
1999 – Bakersfield
2000 – Ventura County II (this one was mostly SCAT, while the 1995 trip was mostly VISTA)
2001 – Lancaster and Kern County (Kern Regional)
2002 – Palm Springs (SunLINK)
2003 – Riverside and San Diego Counties (using RTA #202)
2004 – San Diego II (more suburban than the trip in 1997)
2005 – Eastern Ventura County (Thousand Oaks Transit/Simi Valley Transit)
2006 – San Diego III (Rural routes)
2007 – Bakersfield II
2008 – Ventura/Santa Barbara (Coastal Express)

This year it was Charles Hobbs who prepared the winning idea,
an all-Metrolink exploration riding most of the system in a single day. It has even been written up in the latest issue of Metrolink
Matters
, probably more exposure (and in an official organ, to boot!)
than any SO.CA.TA activity has ever received.

The tour will travel through most of the areas in which Metrolink
provides service — from Orange to San Bernardino to Moorpark to
Lancaster — and will take advantage of Metrolink’s discounted weekend
"Friends and Family 4-Pack" ticket offer
, which lowers the cost of
participation to $7.25 per person for the entire day and is
specifically available on "Thanksgiving Friday" as Metrolink dubs the
day after Thanksgiving.

Streetsblog
readers are welcome to join in the fun. We’ll meet up Friday November
27 at the Metrolink ticket vending machine at the east portal of Union
Station (the side closest to the Metro headquarters building, near the
giant aquarium) by 7:30 a.m. From there we’ll make our way to the
platform to catch our first train, departing at 8 a.m. We’ll have a 40
minute lunch break at Union Station in the early afternoon. And
bathrooms needs are no problem since Metrolink train cars have
facilities onboard. You can even bring a snack or beverage and partake
while watching the passing scenery.

Member Nick Matonak will be posting updates on the day of the event via his twitter page.If you plan to join us mid-trip you might want to check the
Metrolink twitter page to verify whether it shows any delays that may
have impeded our progress.

As our website notes, these trips aren’t just recreational. They
also help familiarize those on the trip with transit service
(frequency, hours of service, connections, etc.) in other areas. And
our participants who don’t use transit daily get a dose of "seat of the
pants" knowledge about transit issues.

I’ll acknowledge that the day after Thanksgiving isn’t
representative as to ridership patterns. Many folks who have the day
off stay home or are shopping. Colleges and schools don’t have classes,
which is especially apparent when you take a bus that serves a
University and find it mostly empty when assuredly during a regular
weekday it likely has ample patronage. Although this effect generally
eases and ridership visibly increases by mid-afternoon.

I have the unique honor of being the only person who has
participated in all 14 trips, and I will be joining in to
experience the adventure this year once again. It should be an
interesting day.

  • Would like to see Metrolink bring a train to Santa Barbara rather than transfer to the Coastal Express. It would seem the idea should be for Metrolink to explore where service could be extended to. There is a LOSSAN study in which one of the scenarios is Metrolink as the provider for service to Santa Barbara/Goleta. The roads are failing us, and today, the day before Thanksgiving, southbound traffic has been backed up for miles since mid afternoon, and is still gridlock at 7PM.

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