Get the private sector onboard with a public-private partnership.
Even though there has already been much discussion about it for the past
several years, let alone the last few weeks, the location of a proposed
transit center in Downtown Riverside is once again
back on the public agenda in Riverside. This time, the Riverside
Transit Agency's Board of Directors will vote to rescind last month's
approval to redevelop the existing Downtown Terminal station and instead
staff to study alternative locations.
Recap of Riverside Transit Center Progress:
The Riverside Downtown Terminal is currently located northwest of the
downtown core and the current facility is too small to sustain the
growth in transit demand. Greyhound Bus Lines also operates a terminal
next door; its facility is long overdue for a remodel. Local officials
proposed closing the Downtown Terminal and developing a multi modal
transit center at the Riverside Downtown Metrolink Station to address
long term growth; a smart thing to do. In 2006, Compass Blueprint studied
the area and concluded that private developer investments be included
to fund recommendations such as a pedestrian bridge over the 91 Freeway
into the downtown core. Public officials have not been able to secure
the funding as of now.
Early in September, with transit rerouting yet to be analyzed and
federal funds in jeopardy, the City of Riverside had considered shelving
the multi-modal project altogether and instead decide to renovate the
existing downtown bus terminal.
After the September 27, 2012 RTA Board meeting where the agency approved
plans to demolish and rebuild the existing Riverside Downtown Terminal,
the Riverside City Manager and the downtown business community
contacted RTA and expressed concerns regarding the plans. The specifics
were not disclosed; however the issue will be brought up again at the
November 13, 2012 Riverside City Council Meeting. In response, RTA
convened a special Executive Committee meeting and staff was directed to
conduct another site feasibility study of the Riverside Transit Center.
Stop the Nonsense:
The Transit Coalition believes public officials at both the local and
federal level must stop this stuff right now. We already have an existing report
explaining the benefits of building the Riverside Transit Center
adjacent to the Metrolink Station. Spending extra public money to
re-scout and re-study the transit center's location is not the best
approach, even if its bundled with RTA's upcoming Comprehensive
Operational Analysis report. If Downtown Riverside's market economy was
robust and RTA's bus system was first-rate, we could invest additional
transportation dollars for another site feasibility study for the
Riverside Transit Center. But the Compass Blueprint report has
sufficient data. The private industry also continues to have limited
confidence in Downtown Riverside. That means private expansion remains
slow and very few new jobs being created. Unnecessary spending of
precious public transit dollars must stop. There is no question about
Funding the Riverside Transit Center at the Metrolink Station:
As The Transit Coalition has been addressing for the
past several years, seamless connections between the growing Metrolink
train network and connecting local RTA buses at Downtown Riverside is
limited. The 91 Freeway also continues to divide the train station with
the heart of the downtown core.
Compass Blueprint studied these issues and opportunities and offered
several suggestions. Other than adding a carpool lane to the 91
freeway, not much has changed since 2006 in regards to demographics.
These are the primary reasons why the Coalition continues to advocate
for the transit center to be built next to the train station combined
a pedestrian bridge over the freeway.
Public officials may not seem to know what to do to build this transit
center and bridge. So let The Transit Coalition offer a possible
solution. Get the private sector onboard with a public-private
Incline developers into the area by designating the Metrolink
station block as a specific plan as suggested by Compass Blueprint.
Offer a developer incentive for including the bus bays, parking
structures, and the freeway pedestrian
overpass as part of the transit-oriented development. Establish
business-friendly policies so that owners and entrepreneurs can better
invest in property and build up a private sector job marketplace. The
result would be a
powerful free market job site like
Irvine Towers in Downtown Riverside complete with a multi-modal
transit center, seamless rail connections and a pedestrian bridge to the
Now that's good oversight on building a robust transit center for
Downtown Riverside that would "meet [RTA's] needs well into the future".