Did You Know? March is “Try Transit” Month!

Probably not, since Caltrans didn't try very hard to make sure anyone knew

Caltrans didn’t release its “NewsFlash” encouraging people to “Try Transit” this month until late yesterday, after half the month was gone. Is that a hint that the department of transportation has a little difficulty believing its own message? Unfortunately, that seems likely, especially given how weak the message is.

Not everyone can just TRY transit, and that’s in part because Caltrans keeps building wider, faster roads so people can drive cars instead. It’s true that Caltrans doesn’t actually run transit service, but it does help plan, fund, and build the infrastructure that makes it possible to “try” transit.

Here’s a thought, Caltrans. Since you have a goal of increasing transit trips in the state, how about instead of building more highway lanes, you build transit-only lanes and work with local agencies to see what they need in order to provide frequent, quality bus service on those new lanes, with all kinds of connections on both ends of those trips so people can get where they’re going without hopping in a car?

And then your message can be how much better it is to take transit, so people will want to make their trips without hauling a car along for the ride. Here are two examples, from Denmark and Toronto, of better messages than the weak suggestion just to “Try Transit.”

And at the very least, if you’re going to hold a month-long campaign to encourage transit use, start on the first day of the month, and make sure the message gets out in multiple ways, every day.

Meanwhile, folks: give transit a try. If you can.


Caltrans Is Looking for a New Transportation Planning Division Chief

Long-time Caltrans planning chief Katie Benouar is retiring, so there’s a job opening up at the top of the transportation planning division. Given Caltrans’ recent upper level shifts in focus from a “highway department” to one that focuses, or tries to focus, on all transportation users—even bikes—this is a key position. It needs someone who […]