In these frustrating times when many feel that government is dysfunctional, it is important to appreciate one of the successes of local government in Del Norte County
The Redwood Coast Transit system has operated in Del Norte County since 1996, but it was 2004 when the city and county decided to improve the leadership and accountability of the transit agency by forming Redwood Coast Transit Authority.
Since 2004, Redwood Coast Transit Authority has dramatically improved travel options in Crescent City and throughout Del Norte County. The Redwood Coast Transit system includes four Crescent City bus routes, Crescent City Dial-A-Ride, and routes to Klamath, Smith River, Hiouchi and Gasquet.
Besides improving local services, the authority quickly filled a need for intercity bus service when Greyhound discontinued its route along the Del Norte Coast. Redwood Coast Transit has twice-daily connections with Greyhound and Amtrak in Arcata, and five daily connections with the Curry Coastal Express service to the Oregon Coast.
The transit agency worked closely with Oregon and California Departments of Transportation to coordinate bus stop locations and schedules for the Southwest Point service to Medford and Klamath Falls. In 2011, the transit authority will add an evening roundtrip to Arcata.
All of these service improvements have occurred because RCTA is better managed. The service is more useful and so it is better utilized. For every hour that a transit vehicle operates, there are now twice as many passengers on board. And, while RCT vehicles still carry only six passengers per vehicle hour, that isn’t bad considering that the average includes large numbers of wheelchair boardings and assisted trips on dial-a-ride.
Because RCT is better utilized, it is also more cost-effective. Although passengers ride to many more places and travel much longer distances, the average cost for a passenger trip, $8.24, has declined 43 percent in the past six years.
RCT has managed to keep fares low. The local bus fare in Crescent City is only 75 cents and just 50 cents for senior citizens and passengers with disabilities. For $1.50, you can ride from Crescent City to Smith River or Klamath. For only $35, you can buy a pass to ride for an entire month on routes in Del Norte County, or for an entire week between Crescent City and Arcata.
The Redwood Coast Transit Authority is directed by two members of the county Board of Supervisors, two members of the Crescent City Council, and one at-large member. The agency’s only responsibility is public transit, and so it focuses solely on this important service.
RCTA contracts for services to save money and take advantage of the expertise that a contractor can offer. Despite this, anyone who rides Redwood Coast Transit knows that the drivers, the mechanic, the dispatchers, and day-to-day management are local residents who care about this transit system and feel that they are doing an important job in their community.