Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Calimesa: Adopting Transit Study Recommendations

Why were recommendations that were made in a transit study, paid for by Riverside County taxpayers, never adopted for the Pass Area?

Pass Transit bus The Inland Empire's Pass Area which includes Calimesa, Beaumont, Banning and Cabazon, will have its transit system analyzed, courtesy of the City of Beaumont. This is welcoming news for Calimesa as this small town between Yucaipa and Beaumont currently lacks through-bus service; its residents are urged to take an active part in the study. However, the fact that Beaumont taxpayers are footing the bill for the study remains questionable. In addition, the fact remains that recommendations from a 2007 transit study to establish a productive bus route for the corridor were never adopted.

The transit corridor linking Beaumont through Calimesa into Yucaipa has a history of major route changes. The Riverside Transit Agency once operated bus Route 36 which previously served the City of Calimesa and directly connected the region with Yucaipa to the north and Beaumont to the south. RTA is mandated by the Riverside County Transportation Commission to meet productive performance standards for its bus lines. Route 36 did not meet several of them and the line was proposed to be canceled in the summer of 2009.

As mentioned, the corridor was studied back in 2007, paid for by Riverside County taxpayers. RTA's 2007 Comprehensive Operational Analysis recommended that the transit corridor connecting the Pass Area into San Bernardino be Omnitrans-operated and connect directly with major points in San Bernardino. However, no transit agency in the area adopted the recommendation. Instead, the City of Beaumont agreed to launch the Pass Transit Express Route on June 22, 2009, connecting central Beaumont to central Calimesa to replace Route 36. Unfortunately, a multitude of problems became clear as one looked at the Express Route bus schedule and map. One fundamental flaw was its limited coverage. Following another restructure, the express route now serves as a peak-only CommuterLink Route 120 with direct service to the San Bernardino Metrolink Station. However, RSVP's are required and the last morning bus out of Beaumont is 5:00 am.

Under the recommendations made by the 2007 RTA COA transit study, The Transit Coalition envisions an all-day regional bus connector for the Beaumont-Calimesa-San Bernardino corridor with hourly headways paid for by Pass-area cities and San Bernardino County which would be operated by Omnitrans. The line would be an extension of the existing Omnitrans Route 9 which would directly connect Beaumont, Calimesa, and Yucaipa to major points in Loma Linda and San Bernardino, terminating at the downtown transit station. An up-to-date study will further assist The Transit Coalition in restoring productive public transit for Calimesa. Let's hope officials adopt its recommendations this time around.

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