Monday, May 12, 2014

More Good News for the Inland Empire's Market Economy and Transit

Photo: Riverside Transit Agency
By: Nicholas Ventrone, Community Engagement Director
riversidetransit@gmail.com

One of the main roadblocks that contributes toward the obstruction of growing the Inland Empire's mass transit system has long been a stubbornly soft market economy ever since the 2008 crash. In it's 2007 comprehensive operational analysis report, the Riverside Transit Agency had several short-range service improvements planned, but the recession prevented many of them from materializing.

Since then, we have seen some economic growth in logistics in Moreno Valley, San Bernardino, and the Jurupa Valley. With the exception of the proposed World Logistic Center hub which we are currently questioning given its massive scale and far-off distance from the March ARB area, the economic job growth will be very good for the region. The opportunities are needed. Also growing is medical. That is evident in the Southwest region.

Construction Jobs are up

We now have reports that construction jobs have taken a boost within the state. According to a Press Enterprise report, California has gained 37,000 such jobs since the start of the quarter. Here at home, the growth was a bit thin, but still up. We have 69,300 total construction jobs, which is a 3.3% increase from last year. The pre-recession peak was 127,000; so it is still an employer's market. The Inland Empire still has many workers looking for the few open jobs. According to the report, other top gains were in Florida, Oregon and Minnesota.

Tax Incentives to Grow the Inland Market Economy

Also, up in Sacramento, the Brown Administration has announced a hiring tax incentive to grow the economy and is using the Inland Empire for the pilot program simply because the number of unemployed workers and poverty rates remain high. While some of the program's specific policies may be debatable, the tax break is well-intentioned and should be good for the region. It should be able to incline the private sector to grow the economy and the jobs that come with them.

In addition, Inland Empire economist John Husing told the Press Enterprise that the Inland Empire is predicted to gain more than 40,000 jobs this year. Several months ago, we conversed with Mr. Husing regarding logistics growth. He is very passionate about providing job opportunities as a means to combat poverty and believes logistics is part of the solution. Obviously, the growth of truck traffic must not go unchecked and the growth of additional high-salary jobs needs to continue.

Should this growth occur, we will certainly hold local officials accountable for ensuring that both the Riverside Transit Agency and Omnitrans are adequately funded by the increased tax revenue collected. In addition, we'll keep an eye out for any unchecked growth that may surface. While the jobs and local funding are certainly needed, we cannot afford to overwhelm the transportation infrastructure or create pollution caused by careless planning and urban sprawl.

More Good News...Your Constructive Comments!

Photo: Riverside Transit Agency
That's right, you are part of the good news too. That's because whenever you engage in our discussion and take the time to participate in our transit debates by posting productive questions and comments, you help build our transit system.

Over the weekend, we've received many great responses to some of our blog, Twitter, and Facebook posts from last week as well as questions related to some of our campaigns. Every comment and message we received had constructive remarks. We did not get a single worthless personal attack or troll that is normally found in user-submitted comments. You commenters are helping us improve the transit system. You are taking the time to read our posts and campaign pages to get information and analysis, and you are courageous to engage in a tough and challenging robust debate with us while refraining from personal attacks.

Better yet, it is very productive and good for us to disagree with each other on specific issues. Yes, we all have a general agreement that we want our transportation and transit systems to be in a robust state, our Earth clean, and all have the equal opportunity to prosper in the Inland Empire. But, even high school students well know that there is more than one solution to many given problems. We've seen that happen with RTA Route 217. A few years ago, it had stagnant low ridership. We suggested re-routing the line further south to the San Diego County employment hubs as a solution. RTA instead conducted a strong marketing campaign. Guess what? RTA's solution worked. Route 217 is now productive.

Robust debate and disagreement can lead to better learning and understanding of how we can attain A Better Inland Empire together. We rely on facts to draw solutions that we believe are fair that won't create new problems, but we realize that people from different backgrounds and cultures often have very different answers and solutions with solving transit and quality-of-life problems here at home. By having a constructive conversation and robust debate on transit-related matters, we can better attain what we universally agree upon.

Please continue to post constructive remarks in the comments. We'll respond to the comments we received from the weekend during the next couple of days as we want to ensure that every question, disagreement and concern we received are answered. Once we reply to your post, feel free to reply and we'll respond once more, giving you the last word before closing the debate. Also, don't forget: If you have a story that you would like to share that would benefit Inland Empire mass transit, you can submit your informative article piece for possible inclusion into our Transit Talking Points blog and/or our weekly e-Newsletter.

We'll talk to you again Wednesday.

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