In a county as vast as Los Angeles, regional connectivity is paramount. While nearly half of Santa Clarita residents live and work locally, the other half make the daily commute outside of the City. With increasing drive times and roadway congestion, you may be one of many who have turned to public transportation. If you have not yet explored the option of public transportation, I’d like to suggest you make it one of your New Year’s resolutions. In Santa Clarita, our residents have the option to travel to neighboring communities using the Metrolink rail system or Santa Clarita Transit’s own commuter routes. Our commuter buses connect to North Hollywood, downtown Los Angeles, Warner Center, and Century City. Personally, I like to use Metrolink to get to meetings in and around downtown Los Angeles. I often combine the trip back to Santa Clarita between Metro’s Red Line and Santa Clarita Transit’s commuter bus from North Hollywood. For many commuters, a trip may involve more than one bus or train and span multiple transportation agencies. While this may sound difficult; especially for a daily commute, many helpful tools are now available to simplify the process. Many commuters might want to use public transit, but think it would be too difficult to find the answers they need: How do I know what to pay? If I transfer buses, do I pay twice? To address common questions, and to simplify daily commutes, Los Angeles transit operators, including Santa Clarita Transit staff, have created the Transit Access Pass program, otherwise known as “TAP.” TAP allows riders to load stored value (cash) and a variety of passes onto a single card for use throughout Los Angeles County. With a TAP card, a rider can quickly pay the correct fare and reload online at taptogo.net or at any of the regional TAP vendors. In Santa Clarita alone, there are now 15 locations available to purchase and load TAP cards, including four new outlets in select Ralph’s supermarkets. Also, improvements have been made to simplify the task of planning trips. Santa Clarita Transit provides schedules and real-time arrival data to third-party trip planning tool apps, such as Moovit and Transit App. These apps allow users to plan an entire trip at the touch of a button and offer onboard notifications, such as when a passenger is nearing their destination. A neat tip I enjoy sharing with first-time riders is called the “Bus Finder” map which can be found on SantaClaritaTransit.com. This digital map provides riders with up-to-the-minute information on the current location of their bus via the web, cell phone or electronic bus stop signage installed at key areas throughout the transit system. With the Bus Finder map, passengers can track the location of each GPS-equipped bus to accurately identify arrival times. There are 24 various public transportation operators in Los Angeles County. Simplifying and streamlining these public transportation options is an endeavor managed by Los Angeles County that requires carefully planned coordination between countless transportation professionals. However, ensuring our residents here in Santa Clarita have access to that public transportation is the job of the City. Santa Clarita City staff, regional operators and elected officials put in a lot of work to provide residents with practical transportation options both in and out of our City. Our dedicated transit team continues to work closely with engineering and planning staff on projects that will increase the use of public transportation such as the upcoming Vista Canyon project, which will include a new bus transit center and Metrolink station. With so many helpful tools in place, now is a great time for you to try out Santa Clarita Transit. Visit SantaClaritaTransit.com today for answers to frequently asked questions and information on transfer stations, bus fares, schedules, routes, and much more. To plan your trip on the Metrolink, go to metrolinktrains.com. Please join me in using public transportation and leaving freeway gridlock behind. You can also receive real-time Santa Clarita Transit updates by following @SCTBus on Twitter. Marsha McLean is a Santa Clarita City Council member and can be reached at: email@example.com.