Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Connecting Perris Valley Line Riders to Southwest Riverside County


One constant wish and request that many Riverside Transit Agency bus riders have is better connections to/from the southwest area during off-peak hours. We can say for certainty that both the Coalition and the governments are hearing this. Both the recommended routes from RTA's Comprehensive Operational Analysis of 2007 and the Western Riverside Council of Governments's Bus Rapid Transit Route Planning Project study of 2010 find faster streamlined connections between the Temecula and Murrieta regions and the rest of RTA's transit network up north feasible and desirable.

The governments have a opportunity to address these rider requests for the I-215 freeway corridor. Marketplace economic growth from the logistics and medical sectors is up. The Perris Station Transit Center in downtown Perris will cater to extended 91 Line Metrolink trains by the end of 2015. The train schedules have yet to be released, however according the project's environmental impact report, six trains are promised to operate between Perris and Los Angeles each way which includes a midday run.

How can the extended Metrolink train service benefit folks in Southwest Riverside County? What is being done to seamlessly connect the service to/from Temecula and Murrieta? In 2010, WRCOG explored the possibility of express BRT for the I-215 between the Perris Station Transit Center and the southwest area. Also, prior to the release of its 2007 COA, RTA explored such a BRT possibility for the freeway. This corridor stretches from the Perris Transit Center through Menifee and Murrieta south to the Pechanga Resort. Potential intermediate stops that were studied included the South Perris Metrolink Station, a park-and-ride lot at Newport Road, the Loma Linda Medical Center area in Murrieta, the future Temecula/Murrieta Twin Cities Transit Center, and Temecula's Jefferson Avenue corridor where high density economic development is proposed.

WRCOG found that this corridor would be more suitable for upgraded express or hybrid local-plus-express bus service rather than rapid express BRT service. Because the I-215 lacks high occupancy carpool lane infrastructure in this area, there is at present limited opportunities to establish productive express BRT. In addition, RTA found in 2007 that restructuring and streamlining the local bus routes in Temecula and Murrieta with more direct connections to the transit hubs under the hub-and-spoke model is vital. One conceptual routing idea includes a local-plus-express hybrid route with local service along the Margarita and California Oaks corridor in Temecula/Murrieta and limited stop express service between Murrieta and the Perris station.

With economic growth slowly but surely making its way into the I-215 corridor, officials should revisit their master plans and begin to plan short range transit upgrades to speed up both local and express transit connections in and out of the southwest area. Tying such services into the Perris Station Transit Center will provide a strong terminal connection, while the development and service to the Twin Cities Transit Center--hopefully designed to accommodate long term passenger rail service in the future--will enhance travel opportunities to the southwest region and provide the transit infrastructure for both the existing and planned development for Temecula's Jefferson Avenue.

Also, the transit opportunities don't stop with public buses. Longer distance private intercity bus carriers ferrying passengers between San Diego, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, casino coaches and other private carriers can be provided incentives to stop their buses at these transit hubs. The demand and opportunities are there and there's already been a lot of talk. Now is the time to act.

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