Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Twin Cities Transit Center and High Speed Rail

Coordination between local and state public agencies would be an efficient and cost effective way to build a true multi-modal Twin Cities Transit Center.

A park in Murrieta. The Riverside Transit Agency has secured the funding for a proposed world-class transit center in the Temecula and Murrieta region. What makes this facility set apart from other transit centers? According to public officials, the Twin Cities Transit Center is envisioned to be a multi-modal transportation hub serving local bus routes, express bus services, potential bus rapid transit, and possible Metrolink rail extensions associated with the near term implementation of the Perris Valley Line.

It is evident that the Temecula Valley is not getting a full scale Grand Central Terminal just yet, at least not initially. To compare, the $9.1 million Twin Cities Transit Center will likely mimic the Montclair TransCenter or Pomona TransCenter; both cater to local routes, express lines, Silver Streak BRT and Metrolink trains. In contrast, Anaheim's massive intermodal transit center facility with its eye-catching architecture cost $184 million.

The transit center will without question benefit the riding public. However, The Transit Coalition has long been wondering how future high-speed rail service will fit into this transit center and has advocated for project coordination between this facility and the California High Speed Rail Authority's proposed Murrieta train station. The result would be a centralized first-rate multi-modal facility for the region. Such cooperation for a combined project has not happened and planning for two separate transit centers spaced less than two miles apart continue.

Another questionable expense of the RTA Twin Cities Transit Center is the reported $364,000 price tag for scouting a suitable location along Jefferson Avenue. To be fair, existing studies never included future rail extensions and making the transit center Metrolink and high-speed rail compatible is essential for long term planning. The site feasibility study may also address the separate train station plans by CHSRA in Murrieta, but this six-figure public expense may have fared better if the research was combined with another study, such as the Highway 395 Corridor Study or Jefferson Avenue Study Area. Officials need to ensure precious public transportation dollars are making it to the streets and are not being wasted with too many studies.

Nevertheless, the Twin Cities Transit Center remains promising for the future of mass transit in the Temecula and Murrieta region. Existing bus riders will benefit. Demand for a high-speed inland rail link through this region north to Los Angeles and south to San Diego will continue to grow. Project coordination between local and state public agencies would be an efficient and cost effective way to build a true multi-modal Twin Cities Transit Center.

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