Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Frequent Rider Miles?

So today on the bus...

visual: I rush to work today in my hot pink headband, purple-ish blue lululemon relaxed fit pants and an almost seafoam green jacket. Blackberry at my ears and blue flip flops on my seat, I await my ride.

It is a quiet day today. I am up early and the sun is just arising, but even so, the World seems to sleep in late today and the hustle and bustle has slowed down. It seems to make me slow down.

I wait for my bus and ponder my iPod. It sits bright and green in the pocket of my pants - yet, I leave it alone. My bus pulls up; I jump on and and bid my bus driver a wonderful morning. He responds with a whispered thanks. Quiet all over this place.

As I am riding, I look around the bus. What do we have here today?

Not too much. Sleepy passengers and loose windows banging with each pothole on Wilshire Boulevard.

I ponder the recent tips I have received about a TAP card and day passes, as I check my backpack for quarters for my ride home later today. The change thing can be a hassle. However, as of late, my Christmas presents and birthday presents have consisted of quarters. You think I am kidding, my Grandparents gave me a bag shaped as Santa Clause for Christmas full or quarters, and my Mom was in town last weekend and gave me a box of quarters for Valentine's Day. Creative, yes. Necessary, of course! Its pretty amusing when you see me open my gift and I am so happy to have all this silver....for the bus!

However, on that note, I began to wonder why the bus does not utilize a frequent bus rider program? Naive, maybe? Brilliant, possibly? Southwest, American Airlines, Cold Stone Creamery - they all have great incentives for your 13th flight free, or 10th cone on us! I think the Metro could take a tip!

Well, all this thinking became an action. I departed my bus ride and later that day emailed Metro.net. I informed them of the bus 'frequent rider program' idea and perhaps offering some type of incentive to get our city green and coax people to the fun that is Public Transportation! I signed my customer comment, Your Truly, "Snob On a Bus".

And wouldn't you know, they wrote me back!

Due to the number of transit public and the reduction in state/federal funding, is not possible to offer free rides. However, there may be discounts available using TAP cards on their website www.taptogo.net.

Metro Customer Relations(213) 922-6235


First and foremost, thank you to Metro Customer Relations for getting back to me so quickly and with additional information to explore. Impressive.

Second, I have visited www.taptogo.net and there are promises of incentives and discounts to come in the future. But as of right now, nothing.

I will do some research on state/federal funding - but as of right now, we have no punch card or 8th ride free....yet.

21 comments:

  1. what a great idea. an idea that has a heartbeat to one day come to fruition.

    maybe there should be some kind of metro lottery. like the millionth passer gets a lifetime free pass and a new car. now that would be ironic. good stuff jacquelyn!

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  2. NYC gives you a free 11th ride with every 10 rides purchased if you buy a transit card.

    Of course, you don't need quarters to ride the subway/busses in NYC. You can buy a transit card at all subway stations and many newspaper shops.

    And with a transit card you can transfer free from subway to busses.

    It's not lack of funding, it's lack of effort to modernize mass transit in LA.

    How much do they spend on roads?

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  3. I've seen the editorials about your riding, and i'm just now getting to your blog. Salut! ...Your story is familiar to me, as i did the same a year ago with the Blue Bus in Santa Monica. A lot to learn there. Only got on the MTA twice. Blue Bus has a bulk pass, which i learned of when the job i started going to passed it out to me when i started. What a perk(!), which never before had i considered to appreciate as a great thing, as my budget of silver was drastically short of getting me to the my first paycheck.

    Per your experience: I hear ya. ..Cheers!

    I live at the beach, and when i got here, i got a bike (a beach cruiser) and didn't get in the damn car for weeks. I couldn't have cared less about it. i was tired of gettin' in it. ...i found myself in debates about whether you needed a car in L.A or not, and my argument was, "live near the beach, and who cares about a car! Get it all done there. Everything you need." ..So, as i was late on payments for my super-nice, 4wd volvo, i let it go. Alas.. i ended up needing a better job fast. Enter: Dress-up job at a metals trading firm at water gardens in Santa Monica. (i'm in Venice.) ...Even though a tad inconvenient at times, all was cool and dandy, including experiences similar to yours, for a while. Until, i started getting trapped outside in the rain. Then, i wanted my car back.

    All in all, I went 9 full months. I have a car again, but the bus is a great thing.

    Per cars: if/ when you're ready... i have several (!) friends who have learned how to manage getting great cars from repo auctions and the like for less than $800. There is a strategy, a method, and checklist, but it is so. If you go to the police auctions, the trick is to focus on the mercedes, because any auto dealers there to cherry-pick the good finds for selling will avoid 'em-- they won't even bid on 'em-- because they'll have to wait there for a while that day for a mercedes dealer person to come outfit the car with a new key. (the cars usually don;t come with keys, per the repo/ impound.. and any ol' key maker cant do the mercedes keys, apparently.

    best to you! cheers

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  4. "When you're ready" to get a car again? Bah. Then what would you have to blog about? Artists need to actually experience life to have something to write about. How much would you have to say about sitting in traffic ... alone? "Snob in a Car." Who cares? There's millions of those.

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  5. Found your blog after John and Ken railed you on their radio show. Obviously no publicity is bad publicity in L.A. ;)

    Invest in tokens. If the rates go up, the tokens hold their value. I bought five hundred tokens when they were .90 just before they went up to 1.10. It was cheaper than a pass because I don't ride every day.

    But, now I've rethought my whole living situation, so none of that will matter, any more.

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  6. Love your blog! Until a frequent rider program is implemented, I suggest riders check with their employer. Some companies offer rideshare incentives, such as discounts on monthly passes.

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  7. LA and other CA cities need to have transit cards now that they have subways and buses.There isn't any excuse not to have them, they are easier and cheeper for the city and surely easier for a full time rider such as yourself, The San Diego Trolley system has the same issues. Its a lack of thought and perhaps the city's unfamiliarity with mass transit. After all, they haven't done this long here.

    Regards.

    Reamus

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  8. She should just get a Xooter! That way her 22 minute walk to the bus would be cut in half. Transfers could be avoided altogether and it only weights about 10 lbs.

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  9. Dear Jacquelyn,
    Checking out your blog today after reading the LA Times article here in Tampa Bay. Your posts are very entertaining and interesting.

    I rode busses and trains daily all through high school and college in the mass-transit-rich Northeast Corridor. It must be hard to do so in a mass-transit-averse place like LA (or Tampa Bay for that matter.)

    Kudos on your lifestyle, blog, and fashion statements. May Fame become your travelling companion.
    Best fishes,
    ~Eugene

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  10. I was directed to your blog from the Times article online. I found that via a link at bikeforums.net in the Living Car Free Forum. It's great that you have the ability to use public transit. I'm in a small town in Montana and the service is much more restricted, therefore I use a bicycle to get around. In winter I use my bicycle with studded tires and a tiny motor.

    To help get to the bus stops faster you might try a Xootr. I've got one for short trips. Many people use a Xootr or a folding bicycle in conjunction with public transit. It gives them more range away from transit stops.

    Bicycles are usually faster than busses for trips ten miles long or less. You also might try a Segway if you need to be more independent and not get sweaty on your journeys. I can't use one here because ice is on the ground one quarter of the year. Still, bicycles are faster.

    Your writing is very entertaining. Keep it up.

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  11. Great blog! Keep it up :)

    I use a combination of bike and bus to get around in Louisville, Kentucky, and have also traveled extensively by public transit in the Baltimore/DC corridor, where my sister lives, and around Connecticut, where my Mom lives.

    I think a couple others have probably commented on this, but here's my two bits: I've noticed that most transit systems do kind of do the 'buy so many rides, get so many free' thing by selling packs of tickets or multi-ride passes.

    Louisville's bus system, TARC, offers tickets at 10 for $12.50. That breaks down to $1.25/ride, or a savings of $0.25 each time you use a ticket -- so, basically, for every 12-pack, you're getting two free rides (transfers are also free on TARC, which is really nice).

    Our monthly pass, at $42, lets you ride as often as you like within the calendar month -- you can rack up the savings *fast.* If you commute twice a day, 20 days/month, at $1.50 per ride, you're already spending $60/month, not counting non-work related rides, so the pass makes sense.

    I think it tends to work out the same way on other transit systems. In Baltimore, I saved tons of money using passes, and when I had a visitor from out of town, I bought him a one-week pass so we could go anywhere we wanted without spending an extra dime. I snag day- or week-passes whenever I visit DC, as well.

    Metro LA's 'EZ transit pass' looks like it might work out well -- $70 gets out unlimited bus and rail service, and you can add a premium stamp for $18 to extend its reach into an additional zone (not sure what that means; we're too small for zones, here :D).

    I would give it a try -- as much for convenience as for savings. It's so awesome to never have to worry about counting change :D

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  12. Hi there. Found your blog via the LA Times article ...just like everyone else :)

    First of all, thank you for taking your experiences and sharing them. I work in transportation, and have found that the peer experience is a great way to get people to re-evaluate their habits.

    I'm glad you're having such a positive experience with getting outside of your comfort zone. I moved to Salt Lake City from the NYC area and have had a hard time adjusting to *not* having transit everywhere. I'm working hard to change the stereotype of transit here, so your blog will be very insightful.

    I love that you're including your friends, engaging with bus drivers and enjoying personalizing LA. You make the city sound enticing -- where I previously thought I'd never put up with the sprawl and concrete.

    Hope you're having a great day. Maybe our lives will cross one of these days on a bus.

    -Deb Henry

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  13. More info on bus passes in LA

    http://www.metro.net/around/fares/

    PS Your blog makes me wish I lived in (or at least visited) LA!

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  14. The biggest boon would be for Metro to get TAP working the way it should. Culver City allows the loading of Cash Value on to its Cards Metro does not, but you can use the Culver City Cash value on Metro Bus and Rail and if you know the magic code you can use them on the Express buses. What would be nice is to be able to Load cash value online and through Metro ticket machines to a TAP Card and even better have it know when you have reached the $5 limit and Issue you a Day pass without intervention an in a sense that would give you a "free ride" with TAP.

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  15. Love the blog! I'm another Snob On a Bus, living in Silver Lake. I love the TAP card, and it saves alot of money when you factor in unexpected transfers, rerouting, etc. Only $62/month. Keep riding!

    Michela

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  16. Was just turned on to your blog - wonderful! I'm in Texas, Fort Worth, and our system is very mediocre. I rode daily for more than a year, and found it very enlightening and relaxing. We have (and I used)monthly passes which are quite cost-effective for daily riders - I think now around $60, and a system-wide pass for a little more that covers all of Dallas (DART) as well, including buses, light rail, commuter rail.

    Kudos for what you're doing - hope it spreads!

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  17. I too ride the 720 to work; 2.5 years now. Your experiences parallel mine, except for the conversing with strangers part. I think riding with the general public is the most unappealing aspect of it, but I refuse to participate in the Big Oil Game, so I will tolerate the public until they offer the ideal alternative-fuel passenger vehicle.

    Also, you should suggest your employer get on a Metro employer-subsidy program. I work for UCLA, and they pay 50% of the Metro pass fee. Another reason to tolerate the public; I'm saving a lot of $$ in the process.

    Until Villaraigosa gets that @!$#% Subway to the Sea finished, the 720 is all we've got. I'm praying I don't go completely insane before it's done.

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  18. p.s. How many times has the irony of your name being "Carr" been pointed out?

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  19. I recently viewed a presentation by a company that implements vehicle location devices. They supply an area of Spain as one of their customers. Their Metro/Bus lines do exactly that. Each person buys a card that is individual to them. Then the more they ride, the cheaper the rides are. You can go online and see what your current rate is what you have left on your card etc. I was told that they have 80-90% buy in on this. Almost nobody pays with cash. Even the local business buy into it. Hotels will purchase these cards and give them to guests at the concierge counter. It's an awesome idea.

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