Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving

California may be mired in countless problems with its transit system but we also have much to be thankful for, especially our constitutional freedom and liberty to express our opinion. The transit system throughout the region has improved throughout the years and it took a lot of work and sacrifice to get where we are today. With the countless blessings and constitutional rights that we now enjoy, Southern California will one day be one of the finest places of this earth. We are very thankful for this and much work still needs to be done in order to perfect the system. Meanwhile, let's take this time to celebrate and give thanks for what we already have.

If you are traveling, please remember to be extra careful on the highways and give yourself plenty of extra time. Be patient. The roads, airlines, trains, and buses will be very busy this weekend. Be especially careful and patient if you plan on shopping anytime this weekend. As you may know, the major retailers will be packed. If you happen to be working in the retail sector and are cut short from the Thanksgiving festivities, be sure to schedule at least a full day with your family sometime after the weekend and share some meals together; you deserve to celebrate this time of Thanksgiving too. From all of us at The Transit Coalition, have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving and we'll talk to you again on Tuesday.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tale of Two Toll Lane Proposals

Concept: 91 Express Lanes entrance that supports free non-transponder 3+ carpooling with a transitional weave lane.
Note: Concept Only. Not endorsed by OCTA or RCTC.
Two Southland high occupancy toll lane proposals are nearly identical: The 91 Express Lanes extension and the I-405 Improvement project in Orange County.

Both propose to double the capacity of the existing high occupancy carpool lane to two lanes each way, raise its occupancy requirement to 3, and allow non HOV's access for a toll. Both corridors would require all vehicles to preregister for a FasTrak transponder including free carpools. The 91 will have mandatory 50% tolls for 3+ carpoolers during the PM rush hour in the peak direction and the I-405 may adopt a similar policy. Also, both projects propose to add a general purpose lane each way, expand auxiliary lanes, and upgrade freeway interchanges.

Despite the fact that both of these projects are similar in scope, the public response has been sharply different. The 91 project has been generally accepted. The I-405 toll lanes are opposed by many individuals, groups, and even cities. Why so? Here are some facts.

91 Express Lane Extension:

Inland Empire commuters who use the 91 Freeway are generally welcoming the capacity improvement project. Opposition has been fairly quiet over the carpool lane conversion other than some local belly-aching from local businesses displaced by the project. Ordinarily, The Transit Coalition would oppose converting carpool lanes into transponder-mandated toll lanes. Both Los Angeles and Atlanta demonstrated that such conversions displace non-registered carpoolers with the leftover space being sold to non HOV traffic.

The fact is carpool demands are so high for the 91 that whenever the freeway loads up through Corona during peak commute hours, hot summer days, many weekends, and most holidays, so does the HOV lane. Speeds in the carpool lane are just as slow as the regular lanes. Such extremely slow speeds are also often the case for the mile long transitional buffer along the eastbound side of the freeway between the existing 91 Express Lanes and the 71 Freeway where there is a set of dual 2+ carpool/FasTrak lanes.

Note: Signage Concept Only. Not endorsed by OCTA.
Those examples show that 3 should be the carpool for the 91 and the public is generally accepting that for now. The Riverside County Transportation Commission has been very transparent on this proposal and The Press Enterprise recently ran this story which landed on the front page of a Sunday newspaper. Currently, we are advocating for the local agencies to get the 91 Express Lanes debt paid off so that it can financially support free non-transponder 3+ carpooling. That is, any 3-person HOV would be able to use the high occupancy vehicle lane infrastructure for free while non-carpools have the option of using it for a toll.

With the capacity improvements associated with the 91 Express Lane extension, the chaos caused by the displacement of non-registered and 2-person carpools should be minimal for the short term with the added general purpose lane. That's why we will not oppose this project. However, there is enough interstate demand on this corridor where both the state and the federal government should contribute resources toward getting the debt paid off so that the 91 can have a robust dual 3+ carpool lane that would be long-lasting. We're also looking to get additional express bus infrastructure and direct access ramps into the facility so that it can better support high speed express bus transit service. RCTC should also launch a strong marketing campaign to convert 2-person carpools to 3 prior to the carpool lane conversion.

I-405 Toll Lanes through Orange County

The tone is much different in Orange County. The I-405 toll lane proposal has received massive amounts of opposition. Unlike the 91, the existing I-405 carpool lane loads up during peak commute hours in the peak direction. Even with the reduced speeds during peak congestion, the HOV lane sustains faster speeds. If its capacity is doubled, there would be no reason to raise its occupancy requirement to 3. Dual carpool lanes would allow 2+ carpoolers fast speeds during the rush hour.

As we've mentioned, if the I-405 had a facility similar to San Diego County's I-15 Express Lane system where carpools 2 or more can travel for free and not have to preregister for a toll transponder, the public would likely be satisfied with the end product. OCTA staff claim a revenue shortfall if 2's a carpool, but that is no excuse not to develop transportation infrastructure that already works down south. Toll lanes must not serve as money fountains for the government. They need to be about moving people. Because the I-405 is a major interstate, our transportation tax money should be going to this corridor. Since one of the proposed I-405 alternatives to be paid for by taxes was to add 2 general purpose lanes in each direction; a fair compromise would be to add one general purpose and one carpool lane. The dual high occupancy lanes would support free non-transponder carpooling; solo drivers who wish to buy their way into the carpool lanes at the market rate would have that option. Stats show there are groups of solo motorists would be willing to tax themselves into the high occupancy vehicle lane.

Because the I-405 toll lane debate has become more about money than moving people, the public's view of it has become very negative. The corridor certainly is in need of high occupancy transit infrastructure between Irvine and the San Fernando Valley. We're currently supporting a light rail proposal into West Los Angeles from Sylmar dubbed the JEM Line. However, high speed rapid transit infrastructure needs to be extended between West LA into Irvine. Dual carpool lanes with rapid express bus service might be able to do that for the Orange County branch.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Courageously standing up for freedom in Moreno Valley

The Press Enterprise has provided continuing coverage of hot issues that continue to plague Moreno Valley. At stake are environmental, logistics transportation, and economic issues. Heavy campaigning is evident from both sides: Residents versus the special interests. The former is uniting to take back their city through an intense recall campaign. The latter is pouring big money to maintain the status quo.

For the record, The Transit Coalition does not endorse the recall election. As a non-profit organization we are forbidden to do so. We take positions on the policies themselves. We support clean air, properly planned growth, and efficient transportation infrastructure. We also back a robust economy which pays for the transit system. We certainly support the freedom to assemble and organize, voice our position, and engage in robust debate.

It is without question that whenever a governing body begins to encroach on our liberties and the republic, standing up and defending such freedom is a patriotic duty. Believing that the City of Moreno Valley has fallen under the power grab of the special interests of logistics development to the possible point of illegal corruption, its citizens are peacefully fighting back to reclaim their city.

There's growing evidence that City Hall is behaving badly in a number of ways. First, elected officials are stonewalling valid World Logistics Center criticism at public meetings. As currently planned, WLC is an example of undesired urban sprawl. By definition, elected officials serving in the republic must reflect the values of the people they represent. That can't happen when officials try to block or ignore residents' valid concerns of proposed projects by plugging their ears against their voices. A second controversy was the failure to at least conduct a public interview process to replace Marcelo Co on the Council. That is a complete disgrace to democracy and the U.S. Constitution. The Founding Fathers would never have allowed the city to appoint Yxstian Gutierrez the way it did. And the continued pandering to developer Iddo Benzeevi, possibly illegally given the ongoing investigations by the federal government, weakens the power of Moreno Valley's people. Again, such pandering goes against the principles of the republic.

The controversies taking place in Moreno Valley is clearly not about jobs versus the environment. It is about a group of concerned citizens' desire for freedom and claiming back what they believe has been unjustly taken from them. Countless men and women have shed blood on the battlefields to give we the people the freedom to assemble, unite, and to fight back peacefully. The groups that have formed all over the city and on the social networking sites have plenty of reasons to believe that they are losing freedom to the power grab of the special interests and money. Citizens grassroots organizations have awakened and declared that they will not allow this to happen in the valley "Where Dreams Soar".

Special interests may have the power of money, but they better watch out. As more and more concerned citizens unite, history has shown that their one voice dominates. History from all over the world has shown that if enough people unite for a common interest such as declaring that they will not be ruled by special interest pandering, they can overwhelm the spending power of the few. Will Moreno Valley's history state likewise? Will Moreno Valley's future generations learn from their history class that their ancestors fought to preserve the intentions of the very people who have sacrificed everything for this country and for all of us? 

To be continued...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Community and Job Transformation in Moreno Valley

It is beginning to look like a presidential election in the place "Where Dreams Soar". The Press Enterprise published a detailed story continuing the coverage of the contraverial issues that continue to plague the city. Stay tuned for an updated analysis on what's going in Moreno Valley.

On top of the big name issues addressed by residents, there are other goals like getting better high paying jobs into the city, getting rid of crime and gangs, and making the city streets safer. What could this smart growth look like? How can this be integrated into the existing community without disrupting the quality of life? Take a look a the photos below of Alessandro and Perris Boulevards, two of the major commercial corridors for the city.

Alessandro Boulevard Existing Conditions:

This is Alessandro Boulevard facing west. The area is very blighted and can use some attention. Bicycles lack a dedicated lane. The public sidewalk is very uninviting. The private properties are long overdue for investments. Renovations don't necessarily mean driving businesses elsewhere. Displacement of the existing businesses in the shopping center can also be minimal, allowing their owners to support revitalization efforts.

Alessandro Boulevard - Conceptual Future Vision:

In this concept, Alessandro is re-striped with street parking and a bicycle lane. The public sidewalk is beautified. Street lamps and palm trees are added and the sidewalk is colored which makes it more inviting.

Shopping Center Transformation: By designating existing commercial land areas of Alessandro Boulevard as specific plans, landowners can invest private capital into their properties, convert front parking lots into pedestrian plazas and develop multilevel parking structures in the back while keeping the displacement of existing businesses to a minimum. Note how the existing buildings can be renovated and expanded so that existing tenants are not driven out. The property can support a high paying job hub and a youth center as well as additional retail outlets. In this concept, a small fictitious local news outlet offers 100 skilled-based jobs.
Perris Boulevard at Cottonwood Existing Conditions:

Conceptual Future Vision:

Perris Boulevard can be a corridor "Where Dreams Soar." This concept adds pedestrian amenities, bike lanes, street parking, and shows an expansion of the Hometown Square shopping center. With proper land use zoning, investors can put private capital into Hometown Square and transform it into a true village center complete with an engineering firm (50 jobs) or other high paying job site.  Parking is underground or in the back; stores face the street. In addition, an existing open space is transformed into a park with a separate pedestrian bridge further down Perris Boulevard going into Hometown Square.

These simulations show how these two Moreno Valley commercial corridors can be revitalized, made safer and more livable with high paying local jobs on top of logistics. Urban sprawl is not the only choice Moreno Valley has!
Urban Design: The Transit Coalition

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Is Riverside Public Transportation really poor?

Source: Riverside Transit Agency
Printed in Monday's Press Enterprise newspaper opinion page, Ted Green of Westminster thinks so. In fact, his letter was headlined "Public Transportation Poor."

The message implies that Green missed a Metrolink train connection in Corona due to an RTA bus connection failure; the bus was behind 10 minutes. Green had to wait for the next train and used the time to write his letter of complaint. The story mentioned very few specifics. We have no information whether he used the West Corona or North Main Corona station. The specific bus route running late was also not reported. We also don't know when this incident took place. We believe RTA has more facts and is taking care of this issue and a follow up post will come should we get more details.

However, there are some points brought up in the complaint that need to be addressed.

Wheelchair Boarding: Green's letter implies that boarding passengers in wheelchairs delays the bus to the point of inefficiency. That can be very true for a number of contracted RTA routes that use small buses or trolleys as equipment and are equipped with a wheelchair lift instead of a ramp. If the contracted bus driver is undertrained to use the lift to board such passengers quickly, the delays can be very dire. We have seen this problem along some of the contract operated routes, especially in the Southwest region. We can certainly share Green's frustration here on this point. RTA needs to hold its contractors accountable for properly training bus drivers to board wheelchairs efficiently. In addition, lifts should be tested regularly. Eventually, as new buses are rotated into the system, RTA's contract fleet of small and mid size buses should be low floor with wheelchair ramps.

We believe RTA is on it as the newer small buses have these features.

Source: RCTC
Scheduling & Routing: The letter also mentions that RTA's schedules are arbitrary and that the routes themselves are inefficient. The timetables are clearly not picked out of the hat. They are calculated on traffic patterns and distances travelled. Also, RTA's routes run on a hub-and-spoke model which is the most efficient routing method given the region's demographics. In fairness to Green, RTA should incorporate more predictable clock-face scheduling (eg. bus every 10, 15, 20, 30 or 60 minutes) and there are some routes that deserve to be streamlined and made less circuitous to make them more efficient. That would include the bus routes in the southwest region. In addition, transit hubs should offer timed transfers.

Generally speaking, Ted Green won't be coming back anytime soon according to the letter, at least under the current system. However, RTA can't take 100% of the blame for not implementing the routing and scheduling improvements. The agency runs on a very tight budget beyond staff control; however, that's no excuse. State and County elected officials need to get rid of trivial regulatory red tape so that infrastructure and labor costs are in check and private businesses can drive up the Inland Empire economy which provides resources for RTA.

Ending on a positive note: RTA does has a good crew of bus drivers with some who are heroes. Last May, driver Bob Owens caught a runaway criminal aboard his bus and successfully had police waiting at the Galleria at Tyler hub. Last week, driver Ted Jenkins who was walking home from work, saved a man who was lying a few feet from active railroad tracks in Riverside due to a bad medical reaction. The man happened to be a regular wheelchair rider aboard Route 1.

RTA may have a long way to go before it becomes a first-rate transit system for Riverside County, but it is far from poor. People who dislike their transit system should express their opinion, but also be a part of the solution. That's why The Transit Coalition, Transportation Now, and independent blogs like Riding in Riverside watch over the bus system. The future of Inland Empire public transportation can be great and more efficient. Let's make it happen.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Big Trouble in Moreno Valley City Hall

Photo: U.S. Department of Justice
As reported all over the media, both the Moreno Valley city government and the developer Iddo Benzeevi of the proposed World Logistics Center are on the radar of the federal government. One politician is already in big trouble.

Earlier this month, the feds reported that former City Council member Marcelo Co agreed to plea guilty to what could have been one of the worst examples of developer pandering in Moreno Valley history. Co accepted a multimillion dollar bribe from an undercover FBI agent posing as a real estate broker in return for favorable land use decisions. Such an act is a disgrace to democracy. Such special interest pandering is so bad that bending the law simply doesn't go far enough for those involved. It's no doubt that if one is planning to commit a white collar crime behind closed doors, the feds may be watching. That's intelligence-driven enforcement at work.

Co's days of such corrupt power are over. Had the politician got away with this and had the good citizens not risen up against the corrupt madness, Moreno Valley as a whole would be in grave trouble. The FBI reports that a single scam can destroy a company, devastate families by wiping out their life savings, or cost investors billions of dollars. All three occurred last decade in the Enron fiasco. 

The elected Council governing body of any city is supposed to represent the values of their residents, not the special interests. Elected officials should know that both intelligence driven law enforcement and voters will hold them accountable if they try to game the system. The Press Enterprise has reported that both the justice system and concerned residents have risen up before to stop such madness.

  • In 2004, Highland voters recalled three City Council members after they used about $11 million of the city’s reserve funds to balance the budget. The LA Times further reported that recall supporters charged that the three council members attended a water board meeting in November, where they allegedly offered to buy a parcel from the district for $10 million.
  • One year later, in 2005, Murrieta residents upset about traffic congestion, zone changes and urban sprawl projects recalled the mayor. The LA Times reported that the mayor had lobbied city planners to approve his daughter's day-care center, a clear conflict of interest. The city also approved zoning changes questionable to the will of the residents. The overwhelmed north/south transportation corridors between Murrieta and Temecula are still recovering from that unchecked growth. Voters kept two other council members from being recalled.
  • In 2010, San Jacinto residents ousted four City Council members busted for money laundering, tax fraud, bribery and other charges. Their days in power are over. All four pleaded guilty. 
These events should be clear warnings to anybody in public office: Don't underestimate the authority of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America. Moreno Valley is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Its people will not allow special interest pandering to perish the local republic from the earth. Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address applies to us in the Inland Empire. And Moreno Valley politicians are being held accountable.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Stopping Urban Sprawl in Moreno Valley: The World Logistics Center

Photo: © Wikimedia/Raunet CC-BY-SA

Urban sprawl has no universal meaning, but can be defined as uncontrolled growth with no regards to land use controls or negative impacts to transportation infrastructure or the environment.

The Transit Coalition along with several groups of local Moreno Valley residents and the Press Enterprise are questioning the World Logistics Center, a giant proposed logistics hub on the eastern edge of the city at the base of the Badlands Hills. The newspaper generally holds conservative-moderate, business-friendly positions on controversies. However, the PE is not a fan of unchecked growth. Nor are we. Currently, WLC is urban sprawl which needs to be opposed until questions about traffic and pollution are addressed, put into the master plans, and reflect the values of residents.

For WLC to work as proposed, designated truck routes away from neighborhoods and schools would need to be established, likely along the freeways. Trucks on the surface streets must be restricted to local deliveries only; that includes Alessandro and Perris Boulevards. New trucks will need to use clean technology to prevent Moreno Valley's air quality from worsening. The air already gets pretty dirty on many days. With the lack of a rail line in the WLC area, the 60 Freeway through the Badlands would have to be expanded, possibly beyond Caltran's proposal of adding truck climbing lanes so that traffic bottlenecks do not form on either side. If no rail alternative is built, the freeway corridor may even have to be doubled in size to sustain WLC operations, not only for truck traffic but for commuting workers.

In fairness, the trucking industry has begun to work on cleaning up their trucks by using alternative fuels. The WLC buildings are proposed to be eco-friendly. Logistics development adjacent to existing freight rail lines and airports generally work. Amazon has brought a fulfillment center into town, placed just outside the southeast corner of the March ARB. That will drive up the job market for better paying logistics wages with 1,000 additional full-time jobs in Moreno Valley. In addition, integrating Inland Empire logistics growth and the badly needed jobs that come with them into Long Beach's proposed GRID hub would certainly help dispel the sprawl from economic growth and potentially spark logistics movement competition with the Panama Canal expansion. Has Iddo Benzeevi been inclined to innovate and make bank from this opportunity?

Many valid questions about traffic and pollution are not being addressed in WLC plans and the Moreno Valley City Council continues to pander to the developer--possibly illegally--and stonewalling valid criticism by concerned citizens. Many trucks still run on dirty diesel fuel. Traffic through the Badlands hills is already approaching capacity, more than 16% of the total traffic is logistics movement and there are no truck capacity improvement proposals except for plans to add truck climbing lanes.

Got to get smart about logistics growth.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Transportation Tips: How to help Typhoon Haiyan survivors in the Philippines

The Philippines was hit from a powerful typhoon last week, causing widespread death and destruction. According to sources, Typhoon Haiyan affected millions people across the Philippines with at least 600,000 being displaced. Survivors were described as being in desperate need of clean drinking water and food. Experts in the field have urged those who want to help to send a cash donation to a charity in lieu of material donations. A Red Cross official says the charity purchases survivors' needs locally or domestically after disasters to help revive the economy, control transportation costs, and ensure items are appropriate for the culture.

According to sources, many charities are stepping up to provide help and outlets for donations.

The American Red Cross
The Philippine Red Cross
Catholic Relief Services
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders)
National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON)
The Salvation Army
Operation USA

If your local charity is providing help, feel free to post them in the comments. Remember, please only post links to legit charities. Spam and bogus links will be removed.

Thank you for your support.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

RTA's Dial-a-Ride Contractor and the Inland Empire Job Market

Source: Riverside Transit Agency
The Riverside Transit Agency's own newsletter dubbed The RTA Reader reported that Veolia Transportation was awarded a new contract to operate RTA's Dial-A-Ride services. The current contractor, Southland Transit Inc, operated the DAR service since 2006 and has been undergoing unsustainable losses. The provider requested RTA to withdraw from the DAR agreement and bidding was opened last May. After a tough and thorough selection process between four vendors, Veolia was found to be the most qualified and best value provider. Veolia has a long resume of operating transit fleets under contract all throughout the Southland. We'll keep a watch on what improvements take place aboard Riverside County's paratransit services.

The selection process between the bidding vendors involved a challenging inquiry and examination process which is a sound way of balancing quality contracted services with cost control. RTA designed this process to be challenging, with candidates presented with real operational scenarios requiring them to demonstrate their experience and critical thinking skills. The process allowed RTA to base candidate scores on these facts and not on costs alone. The results: Management teams from two vendors were unable to demonstrate a level of expertise that met the RTA's expectations. One vendor failed to make the full team of management candidates available for interviews. RTA didn't disclose the specifics, but here are the technical scores between the four:

First Transit - 82.5
Ride Right LLC - 33.3
SCR Medical Transportation - 31.6
Veolia Transportation Inc. - 92.6

Because Veolia scored considerably higher during the interviews, RTA engaged the vendor to negotiate the contract to better match the competition: $69,011,213 over a 3-year base period. Such challenging examination processes are certainly necessary to help keep contract and government employee hiring fair and equal with quality workers at competitive marketplace rates and wages. Yes, some of the politics and the trivial steps toward getting extra helping hands for a government agency should be debated and streamlined, but the specifics are not for us to decide as a transit advocacy group. However, there is one fact that is not questionable: Getting a job in the Inland Empire marketplace is a lot harder under a soft economy and trivial policies that obstruct growth need to be revisited.

The IE Marketplace Job Interview of today

Like the Dial-a-Ride contract, similar pre-job challenges are abundant in the Inland Empire marketplace since there are still far more workers than jobs. The Press Enterprise Columnist and licensed therapist Mitchell Rosen wrote this piece on situations where job seekers often feel humiliated during a job interview. Because the job-to-worker ratio leans more toward workers than jobs, the local economy is an employer's market. When a job gets posted, people looking for work flood the employer with applications, making such tough screening processes necessary for selection.

While the employer is the dominant party under a soft economy and thus can control salaries and place job applicants through additional examinations and inquiries to screen the pool, it's certainly wrong to bully or humiliate them as pointed by Rosen. To be fair, many if not most interviewing managers are civil to their candidates and humiliation is not deliberate. What is actually happening is that since so many job seekers are applying for a single position, employers have to resort to hard interview questions, scoring systems, and examinations to help narrow down the candidate pool. When a candidate goes in for an interview and expects a traditional Q&A-type setting only to be confronted in answering to a real-time scenario, he/she might have a sense of humiliation of not being prepared to answer such tough questions. Such reaction can be discouraging to hard working people looking for work.

In a robust economy, job applicant pools are smaller and starting salaries are higher because employers actually need to recruit them.

In the late 1990's when the economy was soaring, a local McDonald's had such a high employee turnover that the franchise owner offered a higher start-up wage for students with higher GPA's. It was almost a given to see a "Now Hiring" sign on the window. The turnover was so high that hard working crew members who elected to stay trained and advanced easily through the company within their first year of employment and the raises that went along with them. At one point, the majority of hourly Swing Managers, McDonald's entry position into management at that time, were under age 21. That position was just below the Assistant Manager position, a post that offers a livable full time salary.

Such perks, employee retention, and job advancements are not needed in today's soft economy. However positive changes may happen as the logistics sector grows. It's true that many warehouse jobs are currently paying entry-level wages, but as the job-to-worker ratio leans more toward jobs and the number of unemployed people seeking work goes down, warehouse employers will be in a position where they have to raise salaries and advance hard working people through the company in order to fill open job positions, retain employees, and control costly turnover. Be sure to check out the latest development of the GRID logistics proposal in Long Beach and how it can be integrated into the Inland Empire.

Job growth is vital for a productive transit system as such workers combined with a strong economy pays for the system. Local and state officials need to see what policy changes need to take place to get the Inland Empire's economy growing again without the sprawl. Next week, we'll continue to watch over the growth of the logistics sector in Moreno Valley so that such development does not translate into undesired problems such as pollution, traffic congestion or corruption.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

How intercity bus competition can strengthen Inland Empire transit

The Transit Coalition ran across a Sacramento Bee article which tells the story of a rider who traveled along an intercity corridor served by two competing private bus carriers: Greyhound and Megabus.

When the blue Megabus coaches came into California, Greyhound knew that it no longer had monopoly power of intercity services and therefore needed to upgrade its services and lower fares in order to compete. Of course when that happens, riders benefit with better bus service.

Like the bus connections between northern California and LA, Stagecoach Group PLC has also recently brought the Megabus to operate between the Riverside Downtown Metrolink Station and Las Vegas. Transportes Intercalifornias also provides intercity service to/from Mexico. And to this day, numerous casino buses are offered to ferry passengers from all over Southern California to the Inland Empire's gaming resorts. If this pattern continues, we may be able to get around Southern California one day by bus during any time of the day at reasonable fares.

We're looking for additional carriers to come into the Inland Empire so that locals can get around the Southland and points beyond quickly by bus with increased services and lower fares. Greyhound Bus Lines should not be in a position to monopolize the Inland Empire intercity bus market. Public officials should continue to work with intercity bus service providers to improve marketplace competition among intercity lines. We're not looking at direct taxpayer subsidies as we don't need a repeat of the Solyndra failure, but incentives to lure existing and start up companies to existing corridors and transit hubs.

On top of the growing limited stop express options, we're also looking for additional local intercity services for the SR-91, I-15, I-215, and I-10 intercity corridors with competitive fares offered by the private sector. Riders would be able to board and alight at any stop. This would provide additional express bus services at times when public commuter express services are not available.  What can be done to entice an existing or start-up carrier to offer express services with stops in the Inland Empire? 

Limited Stop Intercity Service Corridor Concepts:
Offering quick and speedy connections between dense areas of the Inland Empire

OC - Inland Empire - Las Vegas Limited:
Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center
Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center
Riverside Downtown Metrolink Station
San Bernardino Transit Center
Baker (Meal Break)
LV South Strip Transfer Terminal
LV Downtown Bonneville Transit Center

San Diego - Las Vegas Limited:
San Diego Santa Fe Depot
Riverside Downtown Metrolink Station
San Bernardino Transit Center
Baker (Meal Break)
LV South Strip Transfer Terminal
LV Downtown Bonneville Transit Center

Tijuana - San Diego - Los Angeles via Inland Empire Limited:
San Ysidro Transit Center
San Diego Santa Fe Depot
Temecula/Murrieta Twin Cities Transit Center
Montclair Transcenter
Los Angeles Union Station

Los Angeles to Phoenix Limited:
Los Angeles Union Station
San Bernardino Transit Center
Thousand Palms
Blythe Kmart Transfer Center (Meal Break)
Phoenix Central Station

Local Intercity Service Corridor Concepts:
With the additional stops, these routes would offer intercity connections to/from transit hubs in the suburbs.

OC - Inland Empire - Las Vegas Local:
Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center
Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center
Corona Transit Center
Riverside Downtown Metrolink Station
San Bernardino Transit Center
Victor Valley Transit Center
Barstow Amtrak Station
Baker (Meal Break)
LV South Strip Transfer Terminal
LV Downtown Bonneville Transit Center

San Diego - Las Vegas Local:

San Diego Santa Fe Depot
Escondido Transit Center
Temecula/Murrieta Twin Cities Transit Center
Perris Station Transit Center
Riverside Downtown Metrolink Station
San Bernardino Transit Center
Victor Valley Transit Center
Barstow Amtrak Station
Baker (Meal Break)
LV South Strip Transfer Terminal
LV Downtown Bonneville Transit Center

Tijuana - San Diego - Los Angeles via Inland Empire Local:
San Ysidro Transit Center
San Diego Santa Fe Depot
Escondido Transit Center
Temecula/Murrieta Twin Cities Transit Center
Downtown Lake Elsinore
Corona Transit Center
Montclair Transcenter
El Monte Bus Station
Los Angeles Union Station

Los Angeles to Phoenix Local:

Los Angeles Union Station
El Monte Bus Station
Montclair Transcenter
Riverside Downtown Metrolink Station
San Bernardino Transit Center
Beaumont Wal-Mart
Downtown Palm Springs
Thousand Palms
Indio Transportation Center
Desert Center (pending future growth/revitalization)
Blythe Kmart Transfer Center (Meal Break)
Tonopah (pending future growth/revitalization)
Phoenix Desert Sky Mall
Phoenix Central Station

Got some routing ideas of your own? Post them in the comments.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Robust Debate for the Riverside Reconnects Streetcar

Photo: © Riding in Riverside CC-BY-SA

The Transit Coalition has long been advocating for better Metrolink and bus service through the central City of Riverside. Both the Riverside Transit Agency and the city government have big plans to bring rapid transit along the city's dense corridors. A light rail car to be delivered to San Diego made a stop in downtown Riverside. The Siemens S70 train was parked on University Avenue offering a real-time preview of what rapid rail transit might look like along the streets of Riverside. Based on a Riding in Riverside blog post, city officials hope that one day, Riverside will mimic Portland complete with multi-modal transit mobility and transit oriented development. The project at hand is Riverside Reconnects, a streetcar proposal advocated by the City of Riverside.

Proposed Streetcar Study Area
Photo: © Riding in Riverside CC-BY-SA
Even though the streetcar appears to be Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey's pet project, public debate on this proposal has been robust. For Riverside Reconnects to work, it will need to be done right and coordinated with the Riverside Transit Agency. The finished product must not duplicate existing RTA bus service, proposed bus rapid transit, nor obstruct existing traffic flow. The technology used to move Riverside's people must also be fact-based and cost-efficient. The local press has opposed the streetcar for those very reasons.

We want the very best public transit systems for Riverside with quick and speedy alternatives to get across town. But at the same point, we don't want politician's pet projects nor government waste to obstruct other vital transportation projects. Riverside Reconnects can work if it's done right. Here are some facts.

Coordinating Riverside Reconnects with RTA's RapidLink BRT Proposal

Source: Riverside Transit Agency
RTA has recently proposed to phase in peak-hour limited stop runs of Route 1 within the next few years with long term plans for all day RapidLink BRT service with station stop amenities. Numerous past studies find BRT feasible. We've originally envisioned dedicated transit lanes for the higher density areas for the RapidLink service so that the rapid buses do not obstruct existing traffic nor are stuck in congestion through these areas, much like how the sbX system is being developed in San Bernardino. Also envisioned are RTA ticket vending machines at each of the RapidLink stations to speed up the boarding process. We also have a blog post on how officials can speed up the BRT project. RTA and the City need to network and coordinate these two projects. We don't want RTA to spend precious funding resources on RapidLink only to find out that a separate trolley line will scrape and replace BRT only a few years later.

There is no question that both the Magnolia and University Avenue corridors are need of better rapid transit options and a quick and speedy alternative to slower local bus service for longer trips. Could the city benefit with the streetcar system? How about light rail? Or maybe BRT that mimics LA's Metro Orange Line through dense areas?

Both agencies need to work to actually get first-rate transit lines built for Riverside and both need to agree on which technology would work best in regards to moving people and keeping costs in check, whether it be rails or BRT. The city also needs to ensure Riverside Reconnects doesn't bypass Metrolink. In terms of connecting the city's existing and proposed mass transit system to Southern California's regional rail system, the sound idea of establishing the downtown transit hub at the Metrolink station with a pedestrian overpass across the 91 Freeway into the core has been on the drawing board for almost a decade. As pictured here, job development incentives can transform the train station into a robust transit and marketplace employment hub with the transit center, a Riverside Reconnects station stop, and the bridge integrated into the development. The infrastructure would be fully paid for. No taxpayer debt. No waiting for decades for public money. Getting private capital and marketplace jobs into Downtown Riverside will be key to getting a funded, robust transit system for Riverside's streets.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Veteran's Day Weekend Transportation Tip: Honor the service and sacrifice of Veterans

This week, we had a lot to express about high occupancy toll lanes and how high speed bus transit infrastructure can be integrated into them. We also will have much to analyze and opinion once the Riverside Transit Agency's updated Comprehensive Operational Analysis is finished. As a grassroots transit organization, we watch what our government agencies are doing and want nothing less than a first-rate transportation network, a clean and robust Inland Empire economy, and safe neighborhoods free from crime. We weed out the excuses from the facts to show you how we can bring about a Better Inland Empire.

We therefore need to remember not to take this freedom for granted by honoring what our troops fought and died for.

To this very day, it is illegal in many countries for individual advocacy groups and the public to question the government. The Founding Fathers were absolutely right in establishing our freedom to speak, express our opinions, and engage in robust debate. Several good folks from Moreno Valley, to Riverside, to Orange County have stepped up and spoken freely about topics ranging from logistics growth, to toll lanes, to the Riverside Reconnects streetcar proposal. This would not be possible had it not been for the men and women who died to give us the freedom to assemble and debate. Without them, The Transit Coalition and numerous independent transportation bloggers would not have this freedom.

This Veteran's Day weekend, take an hour and attend a Veteran's memorial service near you, or if you are unable to attend one, take a few moments and watch a televised or recorded service. Also, we would like to remind those who are traveling this weekend: Please remember to enjoy your alcoholic beverages wisely. If you are drinking, do not, under any circumstances, drive.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The I-405 Toll Lane Money Fountain

We already pay high gasoline taxes and have a local sales tax for transportation. Why tolls? That's a common question for many high occupancy toll lane projects. The Riverside County Transportation Commission published its response on the project website for the 91 Express Lane extension project:

In the past, gas taxes were enough to fund our state’s transportation needs. Over time, though, the value of gas taxes has eroded, with neither federal nor state taxes tied to inflation. In addition, with more fuel efficient vehicles on the road, drivers are paying less in gas taxes. Another problem is that the demand on our highways continues to climb. The California Legislative Analyst’s Office reports that the number of miles we travel each year has grown by 31 percent since 1992. Overall, gas tax revenue doesn’t cover even basic highway maintenance, much less infrastructure improvements. Our local Measure A half-cent sales tax is not enough to meet the increasing demands placed on our transportation network. Tolls will provide the additional funds we need to build the 91 Project.

Many states rely on tolls to help build and maintain their transportation systems. Tolls are seen as one of the fairest types of funding, since they are tied directly to use of the lanes, and drivers have a choice of using regular lanes if they would rather not pay tolls. Without this toll revenue, the 91 Project likely would not be built for another 30 years, since tax dollars won’t cover the cost.

HOT done right: I-15 Express Lanes with free non transponder 2+ carpooling.
It's clear that the funding issue is beyond the power of local transportation agencies like RCTC and OCTA. Government officials from all levels need to police our transportation tax money better so that such funding actually makes it to the rails and roads as they should, not in the pockets of the special interests which includes bloated salaries and costs beyond the market rate. Toll lanes also need to be about moving people and not be government agency money fountains. But the I-405 toll lane proposal between the I-605 and SR-73 is now suggesting otherwise. In Orange County some members of the OCTA Board of Directors are seeking to maintain the 2+ occupancy requirement for carpool for the proposed high occupancy toll lanes for I-405; that is, carpools 2 or more would travel for free. Here's what OCTA CEO Darrell Johnson had to say about it.

"You can’t have a ‘two-plus’ toll policy and excess revenues."

2 can be the carpool for the I-405 through Orange County

So let's get this straight. If the I-405 had dual high occupancy lanes each way, the infrastructure and operating policies similar to the I-15 Express Lane facility in San Diego County where 2+ carpools can travel free without a toll transponder as some on the OCTA board are seeking, that would certainly improve multi-modal mobility for the I-405 freeway. But is OCTA staff citing a revenue shortfall against a solution that actually worked down south?

According to the Press Telegram, transportation officials predict that if the I-405 supported free 2+ carpooling for the I-405 HOT lanes, that would result in reduced revenues from tolls. Upping the carpool occupancy requirement to three would bring in $163 million over 5 years. Unlike the 91 where high occupancy vehicle demands are high enough where 3 should be the carpool, the I-405 carpool lanes normally load up during peak hours in the peak direction. They are normally free-flowing at other times. The I-405 can sustain high speed dual 2+ high occupancy lanes each way.

Concept: Strong marketing campaign example to convert 2-person carpools to 3 for the 91 Express Lanes. The I-405 HOT lanes would be able to sustain 2+ carpools. Note-Concept only; not endorsed by RCTC.
3's a carpool for the 91 Express Lanes

When dual 2+ carpool lanes reach capacity, then it becomes debatable to raise the occupancy requirement to 3 to keep it moving. That's the case for the 91 Express Lanes. The existing 2+ carpool lanes through Corona along the 91 become as congested as regular lanes during peak times, most weekends, many holidays, and most of the day during the summer. This includes the eastbound mile-long dual carpool/FasTrak lane buffer between the county line and the 71 freeway. RCTC should plan a strong marketing campaign to convert the 2-person carpools into three as part of the 91 Express Lane extension project, establish early morning to late night express bus and Metrolink transit connections with possible long term night owl service, and work on getting the bond debt paid off so that the corridor can financially support free non-transponder 3+ carpooling.

Policing our Precious Transportation Funds

It is becoming evident that toll lanes have become more about raising money for the local government than about improving traffic flow. In the case of the I-405, when 2+ non-registered carpoolers are driven out of the upgraded high occupancy lane, the remaining space is sold for a toll. That is a policy that we object. With the added lane, there is no other reason to raise the occupancy requirement for carpool. Whatever toll money comes in must stay within the corridor which would include maintenance, bond debt reduction, and rapid express bus services. In the meantime, the OCTA Regional Planning and Highways Committee voted to recommend that the OCTA Board postpone a vote on the lanes until further public outreach is conducted. We'll see what happens on Friday.

Regardless of what the OCTA Board does, government officials must stop making excuses and stop the misspending of our transportation tax dollars. If the state stops displacing our fuel tax revenue, stops pandering to the special interests, demands that infrastructure costs match the marketplace rates, and voters hold our officials accountable for reflecting the values of the people that they are supposed to represent, we can have first-rate robust transit infrastructure that is completely paid for. That's how high occupancy toll lanes can support free non-transponder carpooling which can help get Southern California moving.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Being Misled by Transportation Tax Initiatives

Written by Ken Alpern, The Transit Coalition President

It shouldn't be that hard to figure out how to enamor, and how to infuriate, voters when it comes to public investments--be they Angelenos, Californians, Americans or anyone else.

Alpern's Law of Taxes (and certainly a law shared by many, if not most, taxpayers) is as follows: There is only one issue that bothers taxpayers more than the amount of the taxes they spend--the perception on how appropriately their taxes are being spent.

Take, for example, the calculation that Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar and his aides made when they "were reluctant to incorporate higher estimates (of the proposed Los Angeles Downtown Streetcar) into public discussions, partly because of concerns they could slow the streetcar's progress". A price tag of $100-125 million price tag showed up, but we now know this was a "back-of-the-envelope" figure and not a proper figure based on the true cost of utility relocation and inflation. It was based on the cost-per-mile of the Portland, Oregon streetcar which opened over five phases from 2001 to 2012 and cost a reported $251.45 million, according to the LA Times.

Well, as so many of us have learned with respect to the reality of LA, our big city--with its larger size and longer infrastructure history--is just NOT Portland. It's a fair argument to say that New York City, Los Angeles and other larger cities get unfairly treated when it comes to costs because they get compared to medium-sized cities like Portland, Salt Lake City and Phoenix...but it's also a fair argument to say that voters don't like to be deceived. Does this sound familiar?

Kind of like an otherwise venerable notion of California joining the ranks of nations and states throughout the planet and getting an expensive but necessary High Speed Rail project for $33 billion or so dollars. A very, very slim majority of our state's voters favored it in 2008 (like me), and we've been hideously lied to ever since. The cost and the project have morphed significantly since then, to the fury of voters.

Do I favor a Downtown transportation initiative?  Do I favor higher-speed rail trains in our state?  Of course--most of us do. And we also favor puppy dogs, cuddling with our kids, sunshine, and beautiful music to boot.  But we don't like being lied to--and a bait-and-switch is just that, whether it be from Downtown Los Angeles or from Sacramento. 

Read more from Los Angeles City Watch.

Editor's note: It's also worth noting that California transportation infrastructure and operations costs are higher in part simply due to state policies that divert or inflate public works fiscal resources away from the streets and rails and into public employee wages and pensions that exceed the marketplace rate. More on that at a later time. Of course, we don't dissent the individual hard working public employees for their tireless service; it's the power grab, obstruction of affordable transportation infrastructure, and encroachment of the free democracy by the leaders of the public labor unions that needs to be brought into the debate.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Exploring 91 Express Lanes access points through Orange County

Yesterday, we explored ideas of improving the 91 Express Lanes by adding both at-grade intermediate access points and direct access ramps through Riverside County. This is to provide multi-modal infrastructure to the toll lanes for transit buses, private sector coaches, and 3+ carpools with seamless connections to transit centers, activity hubs, and park & ride lots. Basically, we want the 91 to mimic the award-winning I-15 Express Lane facility in San Diego County which supports free non-transponder carpooling with bus transit infrastructure. The only two differences is that the carpool occupancy requirement would stay at 3+ and the barrier in the median would remain fixed based on local demographics and travel patterns. In addition, we envision through Metrolink Max corridor-based Metrolink, Amtrak, and potential future BNSF Class One high speed trains operating with a combined service frequency of 30 minutes between trains with a Rail2Rail-type option. Check out our future vision for a complete map.

Today, we'll take a look specifically on how the 91 Express Lanes can be improved through Orange County.

Concept: What the western entrance of the 91 Express Lanes may look like if it supported free non-transponder 3+ carpooling.
Existing Access Points:
The 91 Express Lanes currently has two bookend access points. The western point is just west of the SR-55 interchange with a direct connector to/from the 55. The eastern point is located at the Orange/Riverside county line. From there, local county officials propose to extend the toll lanes east to the I-15 freeway. Check out yesterday's post on how the lanes can be improved in Riverside County during the long term.

SR-241 Toll Road DAR:
OCTA also has plans to link the 241 toll road with the 91 Express Lanes to/from the east. Patrons using the toll road will be able to access the HOT Lanes. A planned commuter bus from Riverside County to the Irvine Business Complex and UC-Irvine would have seamless congestion-free connections. 

Savi Ranch Transit Station DAR:
OCTA Routes 20, 26, 30, and 38 pass through the Yorba Linda and Anaheim Hills areas in the east/west direction, but none currently offer direct connections into Riverside County. OCTA bus riders must backtrack west either to a connecting Metrolink station or to the Village at Orange transfer hub to connect to RTA Route 216. Such backtracking and lack of connections can make short bus transit trips between the counties last several hours.

The Transit Coalition envisions for the long term a transit hub at or near the Savi Ranch shopping center in east Yorba Linda. The bus stops and park & ride lot can be incorporated into the existing development and street layout under a public-private partnership negotiation. This is the easternmost commercial activity center in Orange County. Illustrated here, OCTA Routes 20, 26, 30, and 38 would be extended east and join together at this at this station under the hub-and-spoke routing model. Future rapid express buses headed to Riverside and Lake Elsinore via the 91 Express Lanes would connect seamlessly with these Orange County routes and vice versa.

In addition, a proposed commuter express route from Riverside County to CSU Fullerton would be able to exit the Express Lanes at Savi Ranch, eliminating the need for it to travel in the general purpose lanes should they become congested. 

Concept: 91 Express Lanes intermediate access point with a transitional weave lane.
Yorba Linda Mid-City Access:
The Coalition is also looking at a 91 Express Lanes intermediate access point near the truck scales just east of Fairmont Boulevard. This will provide another option for the CSUF-bound commuter bus and carpools to access Imperial Highway. The access point would have an auxiliary weave transitional lane to maintain quick travel speeds. Should vehicles in congested general purpose lanes wish to transition into the 91 Express Lanes at this point, the extra weave lane would allow the vehicles to accelerate before merging into the high occupancy lane, thus not obstructing its traffic flow.

Officials also previously explored a grade-separated DAR at Fairmont Boulevard. Should the Fairmont DAR move forward, the transit hub for future rapid express routes; local OCTA Routes 20, 26, 30, and 38; and the park & ride can be placed near Yorba Linda Regional Park and the BNSF rail right-of-way instead of Savi Ranch.

As we have mentioned yesterday, if the 91 Express Lanes supported a policy where only 3+ carpoolers would be given access at these ingress points whenever the lanes approach full capacity, such intermediate access points would not deteriorate its operations.

Meats Avenue Carpool Lane DAR via SR-55:
Express buses including the existing RTA Route 216 using the 91 Express Lanes and numerous private carpools which stop at the Village at Orange transit hub or nearby park & ride lots would benefit with a direct access ramp at Meats Avenue. The ramp would eliminate the need for the buses to backtrack via Katella Avenue to access the toll lanes. In addition, carpools originating at Orange would have a direct connection to the SR-55 carpool lane. The ramp should be a part of long term plans and conditioned on future economic development growth along the Tustin Avenue commercial corridor and paid for in part by developer fees. The concept would likely require expensive property acquisition and right of way expansion or would need to be built above the existing freeway corridor.

Be sure to check out our project "We want Toll Lanes done right!" Local and state officials should also work on getting the corridor's bond debt paid off so that the 91 Express Lanes can financially support free non-transponder 3+ carpooling.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Additional intermediate access points for the 91 Express Lanes through Corona

The Transit Coalition has been advocating for additional intermediate access points and direct access ramps for the 91 Express Lanes on top of the current access points west of the SR-55 interchange and the Orange County Line. This is to provide the rapid express bus and carpool transit infrastructure to encourage ridesharing in the high occupancy lanes. The toll lane extension proposal through Corona maintains the county line access point and a direct access ramp at the I-15 to/from the south. OCTA also has plans to link the 241 toll road with the 91 Express Lanes to/from the east. We're exploring a few more.

Corona Mid-City Intermediate Access Point:
Government officials studied the concept of providing a Mid-City access point to/from the 91 Express Lanes in Corona. This would allow Corona residents and patrons using the Corona Transit Center access to the lanes. One proposal was an at-grade ingress/egress point west of Lincoln Avenue. Excessive weaving across the general purpose lanes was cited as a reason for not including it in the extension project. Okay, fair enough. 

Concept: Bi-directional 91 Express Lanes DAR at Smith Avenue.
Smith Avenue/Corona Transit Center DAR:
A grade-separated direct access ramp was proposed at the Smith Avenue freeway overpass. This would seamlessly link Corona Transit Center carpools and transit buses with the 91 Express Lanes to/from the west. Corona's downtown district is also a few blocks east of Smith Avenue. Future rapid express buses can pick up passengers in the central city area and ferry them to dense places like the downtown Fullerton Transportation Center or the Anaheim Regional Intermodal Transportation Center in about 45 minutes with this infrastructure, bypassing any traffic congestion in the general purpose lanes.

The Riverside County Transportation Commission concluded that by not constructing the direct connector, $77 million would be saved. It would result in 10 fewer full parcel acquisitions, 10 fewer partial parcel acquisitions, and reduced right of way costs. Therefore, the ramp was excluded from the 91 Express Lanes extension project.

Officials also cited the potential of deteriorated operating conditions in the 91 Express Lanes with a DAR at Smith Avenue. As we have mentioned, that statement is disputable. If the toll lanes supported a policy where only 3+ carpoolers would be given access at ingress points whenever the lanes approach full capacity, DAR's would not deteriorate operations. Every other HOT lane system in the state including LA's Metro ExpressLanes has this policy to prevent bottlenecks at intermediate access points and DAR's.
Because of the lack of local connections to the express lanes from the northern side of Corona, vehicles will have to backtrack to access the 91 Express Lanes once the extension is completed. For example, RTA's Route 216 and carpools originating from the Corona Transit Center must go southeast to Ontario Avenue and weave across the I-15 freeway to access the HOT lanes via the direct connector at the I-15/SR-91 interchange. That could add in an additional 10-15 minutes of wasted travel time.

We're going to keep the Smith Avenue DAR on our long term future vision which could serve as a productive bidirectional connector for future rapid express buses and high occupancy vehicles. Both county and state officials should revisit this proposal, include it in long range plans, and find ways to get its $77 million price tag down. Robust negotiations and design revisions should also cut down on the number of full property acquisitions. Labor union pandering or inflated costs should not be obstructing this bus transit infrastructure.

SR-71 DAR:
We're also exploring a long term direct connector between the 91 Express Lanes and the 71 Freeway. The San Bernardino Associated Governments and Omnitrans have long range plans to bring sbX BRT service between Corona and Upland via SR-71 and Euclid Avenue. The future rapid express buses and commuter carpools headed to Los Angeles County have no business being stuck in traffic in the general purpose lanes. 

Old Temescal Road or Ontario Avenue DAR:
In addition, we're looking at a potential bidirectional I-15 tolled express lane direct connector in the area of Old Temescal Road or Ontario Avenue in Corona adjacent to a robust business park which will allow rapid express buses and carpools connections to the job hub and Corona Transit Center to/from the south. Commuters using nearby park & ride lots would also benefit.

Our next post explores some additional direct access ramps and bus rapid transit infrastructure in Orange County.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Transportation Tips: Schedule in some extra time

Wednesday morning's traffic gridlock in Temecula provided a hard lesson for all of us. Schedule in some extra time and have a back up plan ready. For instance if you're riding the bus and it gets caught in traffic or shows up late and you believe it may not reach the transfer hub or your destination on time, have the phone number of your employer or destination on hand should you need to call and let them know you're stuck. If you don't carry a cell phone, have some extra quarters in your pockets and know where the nearest public pay phones are along your route.

If you're driving or carpooling, make it a regular habit to be at your destination at least 15 minutes before your appointed time. If you're commuting or traveling long distances, allow an additional 15-30 minutes. For instance, if you have an appointment down in La Jolla in the middle of the day and are coming from Murrieta, budget at least 90 minutes for the trip, even though the travel time is about an hour during off-peak hours. Have the appointment card or the office telephone number in your pocket should you become delayed or need to call. By planning that way, if something does occur while on the road, you won't be caught off guard and will have the contact information on hand combined with those few extra precious minutes to spare.

Fall Back: Speaking of time, don't forget to set your clocks back one hour before you go to bed this Saturday night. Daylight savings ends Sunday, November 3 at 2:00 a.m.