Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Temecula: Getting transit into Old Town's transit-oriented development

A park in Murrieta. The City of Temecula has earmarked public funds toward the development of additional mixed use affordable housing in its robust historic downtown district. The city's proposals are certainly sound ideas. Old Town will be a livable community, oriented around people rather than cars. The apartment complexes on the west side of town are just a few blocks away from the central core. Old Town Temecula has numerous shops, restaurants, a fire station, police station, and Temecula City Hall within walking or biking distance for its residents. Shops front directly with the sidewalk, as with offices, and residential units above the shops. Add in a some service-oriented jobs and commercial retail storefronts and Old Town will one day be completely livable.

Getting transit into Old Town Temecula:

Viable public transit and bus infrastructure is needed to support this development in order to prevent colossal traffic congestion in the area. At present, two local RTA public bus transit routes, each operating nearly hourly, run through Old Town starting from early morning through the tail end of the evening rush hour. Route 79 (Hemet-Temecula) operates weekdays only; Route 24 (south Temecula circulator) operates daily. An additional Old Town circulator trolley route runs every Saturday from 8 am – 1 pm. In addition, a Greyhound route (San Bernardino-San Diego) stops four times per day, two times per direction.

Public officials are currently looking at a rapid transit route which will link Old Town Temecula with neighboring downtown districts up north in Murrieta, Wildomar, and Lake Elsinore. As officials continue their transit studies, one option that needs to be explored is streamlining Temecula's local bus routes into a hub-and-spoke model with Old Town serving as a potential local hub. Bus routes serving the Pechanga Parkway, Temecula Parkway, Rancho California Road, Front Street, and Jefferson Avenue corridors should seamlessly feed through Temecula's downtown district. The Old Town transfer hub may even qualify to have its own direct access ramp to/from future HOV or HOT lanes along the I-15 freeway in the long term.

Public incentives also needs to be debated and offered to the private sector so that hourly intercity bus service can be offered between San Diego and Los Angeles via the I-15 freeway corridor with potential local stops in Temecula Old Town, the planned Twin Cities Transit Center, Lake Elsinore and the Corona Transit Center. Otherwise Temecula Old Town will have a serious case of dense transit oriented development without reliable transit.

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