The Transit Coalition takes the misuse of public transportation money seriously as it pays for your mobility. We don't want that money to be wasted.
The two county-seat regions in the Inland Empire are caught up in a game
of political football with your public transportation dollars at hand.
Omnitrans' Rebranding Project:
Press Enterprise Columnist Cassie Macduff
wasn't too pleased when the reporter discovered that the Omnitrans
Board of Directors was never consulted over the transit agency's $1.9
million rebranding project. The proposal was reported to be approved as a
line item buried deep
within Omnitrans' budget. Fortunately, the final bill for the graphics
and printing turned out to be well under budget at approximately
which included this rebranding ceremony.
SANDAG and Omnitrans' operating budget:
At the same time, Omnitrans is not happy about what the San Bernardino
Associated Governments is up to with their proposals. SANDAG is
figuring out how to pay for the $130-$150 million Redlands Passenger
Rail project which will likely be a Metrolink extension to Redlands or a
dedicated light rail line. Normally, affected transit agencies would
back rail upgrades.
Omnitrans shot back after analyzing SANBAG's reports; the transit
agency claimed it would lose a whopping 20% of its bus operations budget
toward contributions to the rail line's price tag. Although nothing has
been finalized by the
SANBAG board, the Transit Coalition believes the idea of tapping into
Omnitrans operating budget to pay for the rails is a wrong move.
At present, there are no commuter or express buses overlapping the
proposed rail corridor to restructure. Maintaining Omnitrans existing
service or even adding rail feeder service is key to the region's
continued transit growth. The
Transit Coalition would like to see a first-rate rail line linking San
Bernardino to Redlands, but it must be done right. SANBAG must find a
sound means to pay for the train; tapping deeply into Omnitrans
operations and causing a 20%
decrease in bus service--absolutely unacceptable.
The Downtown Riverside Transit Center:
In Riverside, the Transit Coalition called for officials to
keep the Vine Street Transit Center Project and the Riverside City
Council agreed. Most of the project's secured funds will be spent toward
the new transit center. However, due to federal deadlines combined with
the 2008 public buyout
of the Riverside Greyhound bus station, $3 million of the
funds must be spent on upgrading the existing Downtown Terminal
Station. Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge treated this funding situation as
a lesson. The city would be wise to spend the $3 million on capital
items that could be repurposed
at the Vine Street Station later, such as benches, live next-bus-arrival
signs, information kiosks, security cameras, and trash cans.
The Transit Coalition takes the misuse of public transportation money
seriously as it pays for your mobility. We don't want that money to be
wasted, but it is an ongoing issue. Whether it's hiding a multi-million
dollar rebranding project
as a line budget item, raiding a transit agency's operating budget for
capital improvements, or the lack of oversight in building a transit
center on time, political football games with precious public transit
dollars is a serious problem.
It must stop.