Thursday, January 10, 2013

Metro Rapid in the Inland Empire

SANBAG's plans to bridge transit gaps between transfer hubs with local/rapid buses is long overdue. How about seamless rapid connections to the high occupancy lanes?

What rapid bus service in the Inland Empire can look like. Remember when the fast-expanding Metro Rapid bus system brought a speedy and immediate alternative to slow local bus rides along major corridors throughout Los Angeles? That same expansion may soon be a reality along major streets in San Bernardino County, and these rapid connections also promise to bridge major transit gaps too.

The San Bernardino Associated Governments has major long-term plans to bring Metro Rapid-style lines or even dedicated bus rapid transit routes west from San Bernardino all the way across the LA and Riverside County borders with proposed seamless local/rapid connections to Riverside and Foothill Transit buses at major transit centers. The proposals include three existing local bus route extensions which would close major gaps between Riverside, Los Angeles and San Bernardino County activity centers. The extensions are long overdue and have been long addressed by The Transit Coalition.


  • One extension connects the Highway 83 corridor in Ontario with the Corona Transit Center. Currently, getting from Ontario to Corona by bus, city center to city center, peak hour or off-peak, involves a 2+ hour circuitous journey through Eastvale and Jurupa Valley with many transfers.

  • The second extension directly connects Eastvale with Chino and Diamond Bar via a single line. Currently, bus riders must transfer between several routes to get around this gap outside of peak travel times.

  • The third planned extension creates another north/south connection from Downtown Riverside to the City of Rialto and points north. This will eliminate the need for Riverside Transit riders of the necessity to travel northeast to Downtown San Bernardino and backtracking west.

    The Transit Coalition stays appraised on developments regarding enhanced bus transit. Be sure to check out an up-to-date Future Vision of Inland Empire Mass Transit which illustrates the proposed rapid transit corridors and enhanced north/south connections.

    sbX Highway 83 Corridor and the 91 Express Lanes

    Conceptual Smith Avenue Direct Access Ramp

    Let's talk about the proposed sbX rapid service for the Highway 83/Euclid corridor through Ontario. According to this SANBAG map, the line will go south along Highway 71, to the 91 Freeway and terminate at the Corona Transit Center. Rapid buses are clearly high occupancy vehicles worthy of passing by freeway traffic congestion; so does it make sense to have a direct access ramp along the 91 Express Lanes at the Highway 71 junction and a second bidirectional ramp at Smith Street in Corona to link to the Corona Transit Center so that BRT doesn't have to sit in 91 freeway traffic?

    Speaking of HOT lanes, these facilities are quickly spreading across the nation. Several areas around the country have toll lanes of their own, while Los Angeles and Washington, DC, opened their toll lane systems last fall. Despite their promise of fast travel to those who can pay to use them, opponents continue to decry them as lanes for the privileged and that the physical lanes are built through funds taxed from existing road users.

    It is a fact that people of all income levels use toll lanes, especially HOV's who use the lanes for free or a discount. Field studies and public agency stats back this statement up. "Lexus Lanes" are not just for the rich. To be fair, the state should be held accountable for paying its share to construct HOT lanes so that any 2+ or 3+ HOV is exempt from paying tolls or preregistering. Posts to Metro's Facebook ExpressLanes Page continue to show that traffic on LA's I-110 freeway has worsened since the freeway's HOV lanes were converted to transponder-mandated HOT lanes.

    Meanwhile, toll lane proponents believe these lanes provide a market value to increasingly scarce road space and additional revenue for highway and transit projects, although our expensive state gas tax funds should really be footing these bills. The Transit Coalition continues to monitor this development, especially in light of efforts to bring non-transponder carpooling to HOT lanes in the Inland Empire, as part of our We want Toll Lanes done right campaign.
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