RTA has planned to begin implementing later evening and possible late night service with routes that serve major destinations such as large employment centers and colleges and universities. In FY2013-14, RTA has proposed to expand the service span of Routes 1, 15, 16, 18, 20, 31, and 32 into the later hours of the night.
Currently, service span for many of RTA's bus routes ends shortly after the evening peak hour. This prevents several retail and entertainment sector employees who work into the late night hours from using the bus system to return home. Lack of public funding has long been a major hurdle and RTA has worked hard to allocate such money to extend the span of service for these routes.
Public-Private and Inter-agency Partnerships for expanded service span
Several transit agencies including RTA have entered into public-private and inter-agency partnerships in the past to quickly fund expanded service. Here are few within the Inland Empire:
- Metrolink Rail 2 Rail® is a cooperative ticket and service program provided by Metrolink, Amtrak and Caltrans. The Rail 2 Rail® program allows Metrolink monthly pass holders along the Orange and Ventura County corridors to travel on Amtrak Pacific Surfliner trains within the station pairs of their pass at no additional charge, including late night and weekend trains.
- Coaster Rail 2 Rail® COASTER monthly pass holders can purchase a Rail2Rail-UPGRADE by visiting the Amtrak ticket offi ce in Oceanside, Solana Beach or San Diego Santa Fe Depot to ride the extra Pacific Surfliner trains.
- RTA Route 55 - Temecula Trolley - A local home developer started a high school shuttle service in Temecula. The city currently maintains full funding of the RTA-operated route.
- NCTD 388/389 - Pala-Escondido - Through the Reservation Transportation Authority, a federal 5311(c) grant funds expanded service of a regional connector and casino hopper bus route in inland San Diego county. NCTD operates the line with a regular local fare policy. Last bus leaves the casinos during the 9PM hour.
- The Job Access and Reverse Commute federal program funds expanded trips along selected RTA CommuterLink routes.
- Major entertainment destinations in Orange County: With partnerships with major sports centers, the Disneyland Resort, and beach destinations, additional express buses can be added for the SR-91 Corridor between Riverside and Orange County for both customers and employees from early morning until late night with potential owl service on Friday and Saturday nights.
- Pechanga Resort & Casino currently offers several bus trips for its Player's Club members from all around Southern California. Through a small agreement, pick-up and drop-off locations can be established at public transit centers or along the adjacent street and such connections can be included in the RTA schedules.
- Fantasy Springs, Morongo Casinos: Like Pechanga, these large casino resorts operate adjacent to the I-10 corridor between the Inland Empire and Coachella Valley. Such a partnership can help support the existing peak-only express service between the regions during off-peak hours for casino patrons and employees.
- Bus Wraps: Branded vehicle advertising from the entertainment sector would provide additional late night service revenue.
- Use of Smaller Buses for Late Night Runs: Based on ridership data from other transit agencies offering such service, use of smaller buses for lower-demand late night runs will help keep agency costs low for routes operating near RTA bus yards. For example, the former Bear Runner Shuttle used a 15-seat passenger bus while the daytime Highlander Hauler used a larger trolley bus.
- Transit Oriented Development with developer-funded capital investments at RTA station stops, transit centers, and high density bus lines.