Friday, April 4, 2014

It's Officially Proposed: Streamlining Pass Transit Buses


The Transit Coalition's campaign to streamline the circuitous bus routes in the Inland Empire's Pass Area which covers the Beaumont, Banning, and Cabazon area is well on its way to fulfillment. The cities of Beaumont and Banning jointly operate the Pass Transit bus system which has long had a routing system that is circuitous. Finally, some good changes are coming for bus riders which will considerably speed up local bus travel trip times.

Here's a run-down of the proposed changes:

Local Trunk Route:

Routes 1, 2, 25 –
Pass Transit Routes 1, 2 and 25 will be combined into a single trunk line which will directly serve the commercial corridors between south Cherry Valley and Casino Morongo via Beaumont Avenue, Sixth Street, and Ramsey Street under the hub-and-spoke routing model with the Wal-Mart transfer point continuing to serve as the hub. Also, peak-hour and midday headways will increase to operate every 30 minutes during these times and 60 minutes during the early morning and later evening hours. The route will also run hourly on weekends. Route 1 will also replace Route 25.

The Transit Coalition has long envisioned and suggested such a proposal.

Connecting Shuttles and Circulators:
  • Route 3 – New weekend service will operate every 60 minutes from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM.
  • Route 4, 9 – Route 4 has been redesigned to serve new areas such as Brookside Avenue and to provide all-day service on Pennsylvania Avenue. It will operate as a loop and run every 60 minutes. We would like the loop to operate as bi-directional circulator due the vast loop size with a timed transfer to other routes at the Wal-Mart transfer hub. With Route 1 serving the Beaumont Avenue corridor and new weekend Route 3 runs, Route 4 weekend service will be cancelled. Route 4 will also serve Seneca Springs on one trip in the after school hours due to overcrowding on Route 9 buses.
  • Routes 5, 6 – Routes 5 and 6 are combined and have been redesigned into a loop that will serve the northern and southern residential areas of Banning. It will operate every 60 minutes. Like Line 4, we would like to see the loop serve as bi-directional circulator with a timed connection to other routes at the Wal-Mart hub.
  • Route 7 – Cancel the 4:02pm, 4:37, and 5:22 departures. Being a peak-hour high school and middle school school-tripper route, transit mobility will not be seriously negated with the changes. The Coalition will continue to explore a productive means to route a productive regional connector through the Fairway Canyon development which will likely have to be a second regional connector between Beaumont and San Bernardino operating hourly and funded by smart growth marketplace development in the Pass Area, central Calimesa, and downtown Yucaipa.
  • New Cabazon Circulator – The Cabazon Circulator will operate every 60 minutes from 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM with additional early morning and late evening departures. The Circulator will connect Cabazon’s residential communities with the Cabazon Community Center, Casino Morongo, and the Cabazon Outlets. We will be advocating for a timed transfer between this line and Route 1 at the Morongo Casino with possible interlining and that connections to SunLine Route 220 are possible.
Commuter Express:
  • Route 120 - The line will have an additional weekday midday run to provide for an all-day service span with a service frequency of approximately every two hours. If officials can time the transfer connections between Route 120 and Metrolink, productivity should further soar.
Some Recent History of the Route 120 Transit Corridor

We all remember RTA Route 36, do we?
Route 120 may be proving that restructuring under-performing lifeline bus routes is much better than simply cancelling them. We all remember that several years ago, RTA operated Route 36 between Beaumont and Redlands than ran hourly with a stop in Calimesa. The line had stagnant low ridership. RTA proposed to discontinue the route, but after local opposition, the line was re-routed from Redlands to Yucaipa in attempt to boost ridership. The route still underperformed, even with extensive local marketing. RTA then proposed to cancel the route again.

Being the sole lifeline route of the area, several local citizens, The Transit Coalition, and Southern California Transit Advocates all objected to the proposal. We've asked RTA to work with Pass Transit to ensure transit mobility was maintained in the region. Pass Transit agreed to operate an express line between Beaumont and Calimesa as RTA phased out Line 36. Recently, the express line was restructured into a commuter route from the Beaumont Wal-Mart to the San Berndarino Metrolink station with stops in Calimesa and the Loma Linda University Medical Center area. Now, the added midday departure will allow for a bus departure once every two hours from early morning through the afternoon rush hour.

Should we see marketplace smart growth in the existing commercial areas along the corridor, funds and the ridership could allow Route 120's service frequency to be restored to hourly. Should that happen, we may finally have a productive regional express bus route between the San Bernardino and Pass areas. It will be the region's new Route 36, but this time, it will be productive and filled with riders.

This should serve as a lesson for any transit agency having to deal with under-performing lifeline regional connectors.




Back to rest of the proposals...It's long past time for the cities of Beaumont and Banning to adopt these service changes recommended in the COA. For years, we've called for a more direct, hub-and-spoke bus system for the Pass Area. And it finally looks like better bus service for this region is getting closer to reality even though the changes are certainly not picture-perfect. Therefore, we hope that the city governments approve and fund these proposals.

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