Just how far can you ride a transit bus from Los Angeles, anyway? How about San Diego? Or Big Bear? Or even Bakersfield?
Spending 12 to 15 hours on buses can be fun (although a bit grueling), and is a good way to get to know your fellow SO.CA.TA members!
But these study tours aren't just recreational. They also help us familiarize ourselves with transit service (frequency, hours of service, connections, etc.) in other areas. And our members who don't use transit daily get a dose of "seat of the pants" knowledge about transit issues.
Currently, we conduct four types of study tours:
All-Local Transit: At least one direction of the trip must be completed using only public transit buses and trains. This includes all of the local bus, dial-a-ride and rail operators (MTA, Omnitrans, Foothill, etc.) as well as Metrolink, but excludes Amtrak, Greyhound, airport buses or taxicabs. Walking distance between connecting bus stops should not exceed one-quarter mile.
Local System: Participants meet at a chosen location in the Southern California Area, and ride one of the local systems (e.g. Santa Monica, Culver City, Torrance, etc.). Most of these take place on a Saturday.
Line/Service Type Specific: A specific local line or service type is chosen for observation and our members split up to ride multiple adjacent trips on the chosen line, or travel during a specific time of day (such as overnight "owl" service).
Non-Local System: We take Amtrak, Greyhound or other transportation to some point outside of the Los Angeles metropolitan area (Santa Barbara, Bakersfield, etc.) and spend the day riding the local transit there. Most of these are done as our annual Day After Thanksgiving study tour, because of the distance involved and the likelihood that weekend schedules are not representative of a system's operation.
Here are some of the study tours we've taken in the past:
Many more of our study tours are documented in the Transit Advocate newsletter.