Monday, August 4, 2014

Getting Inland Empire bus carriers closer to the transit center

How can intercity services offered in the marketplace be better integrated with public transportation and transit centers?

Transit Talking Points by: Nicholas Ventrone, Community Engagement Director
riversidetransit@gmail.com


The Transit Coalition has advocated for our governments to incline private bus carriers to set up shop and stop their buses either within or near public transit centers. Los Angeles Union Station has demonstrated for 75 years the streamlined mobility options whenever inter-agency services and marketplace carriers are consolidated at or near a single hub.

We have found that there are a number of private carriers that operate intercity services in and out of the Inland Empire, but very few of us even know where to catch these bus trips. A possible reason is because several longer-distance intercity bus stops are far from the public transit center. When that happens, it is very difficult for a public agency to include the connecting carrier into transit literature such as transit center boarding diagrams and route maps. However, to be fair, there are some carriers that already stop their buses at or near the hub. I've compiled an outline of some of the Inland locations of private carriers and show whether or not they are close to the region's primary public transit hub or nearby transfer points.

A Greyhound Bus.
A quick note for transit riders: If you need travel information, customer service, or to book a trip on a carrier please contact the respective bus companies directly. These findings are simply to show how well current intercity services are tied with the public transit system.

Riverside:
  • Public Transit Hub: Riverside Downtown Terminal, Riverside Downtown Metrolink Station (The Coalition is aiming to have Riverside's primary transit hub relocated at the Vine Street train station).
  • Secondary Hubs: Galleria at Tyler, Brockton Arcade area, other minor transfer points
  • Carriers:
    • Greyhound: The Greyhound bus station in Riverside offers a strong connection with the existing Downtown Terminal. The terminal office and bus stops are located next door. The carrier should be inclined to relocate shop to the Vine Street hub should officials decide to put the Riverside Transit Center there. The existing station does get its crowd and is long overdue for interior renovations and potential capacity expansion.
    • Megabus to Las Vegas: The Megabus stop in Riverside also has a good connection. It stops at the Riverside Downtown Metrolink Station. On the other side, the Las Vegas stop is located within the RTC South Strip Transfer Terminal. Strong connections at the ends of the line.
    • Amtrak California Buses: Downtown Riverside patrons also have the mobility option to connect to the Amtrak feeder buses at the downtown Metrolink Station. These buses connect to the Pacific Surfliner in Fullerton and San Joaquin services in Bakersfield.

A double-deck Megabus coach.
San Bernardino:
  • Public Transit Hub: 4th & E Street transfer area, proposed to be relocated to the San Bernardino Transit Center at Rialto Avenue & E Street. Scheduled to open next summer with the first set of Metrolink trains rolling through in 2016.
  • Secondary Hub: Loma Linda Medical Center area
  • Carriers:
    • Greyhound: The current station off of G Street is a busy terminal, located about 3/8 mile north of the existing transfer hub and about 1 mile north of the new transit center under construction. Getting the carrier to relocate to a spot closer to the transit center would be difficult and may require incentives and potentially additional development given its moderate size. Unlike some of the smaller Inland Empire outlets, the San Bernardino Greyhound terminal is a major transfer hub for the carrier and several buses can stop there at any one time. Passengers line up in front of one of the numbered doors to access the bus. Having done past field studies there, the station is often crowded and may be due for capacity expansion. Public officials should work with the carrier should it expand capacity to ensure seamless connections between the transit center and Greyhound stations.
    • Amtrak California Buses: The San Joaquin feeder line stops at the San Bernardino Train Depot but the historic station is distant from the Omnitrans transit hub. Moving the line's stop to the San Bernardino Transit Center area--now under construction--could significantly improve connections with local transit.
Moreno Valley:
  • Public Transit Hub: Moreno Valley Mall, March Field Metrolink Station (under construction).
  • Secondary Hub: Riverside County Regional Medical Center transfer point.
  • Amtrak California Buses: The stop for the Amtrak San Joaquin rail feeder is located at 2650 East Alessandro Boulevard which is about one mile south of the Moreno Valley Mall and across the I-210 freeway from the planned March Field train station. Walking distance is far from between the hubs and should be relocated.
Perris:
  • Public Transit Hub: Perris Station Transit Center
  • Carriers:
    • Greyhound: The Perris Greyhound station located along 4th Street is a good 1/2 mile walk away from the transit hub. The terminal is actually located near Perris' old RTA hub at 4th at Wilkerson before the Perris Station Transit Center was built. Greyhound should be inclined to relocate the small terminal closer to the hub.
    • El Corre Caminos: This carrier provides direct service to San Ysidro. The bus company's office is located at 393 Wilkerson Ave, about 3/4 mile away from the transit center. It too was also a few blocks away from the old RTA hub.
    • Amtrak California Buses: The stop for the San Joaquin feeder is located at 1688 N Perris Blvd on the north side of the city. While the area is a busy retail shopping area, it is far from connections at the Perris Station Transit Center.
Fontana:
  • Public Transit Hub: Perris Metrolink Station, South Fontana TransCenter at Kaiser Hospital
  • Carriers:
    • El Corre Caminos: The Fontana stop is located at 16056 Valley Blvd. STE D, about 3/4 mile west of the South Fontana TransCenter.
Sun City:
  • Public Transit Hub: Sun City Center area
  • Carriers:
    • Amtrak California Buses: Sun City citizens have a two-seat bus ride to the San Joaquin trains in Bakersfield thanks to good connectivity. The stop for the San Joaquin feeder is located at 26938 Cherry Hills Blvd which is the exact location of the main RTA transit hub.
Hemet:
  • Public Transit Hubs: Hemet Valley Mall, Hemet Transit Center (proposed)
  • Carriers:
    • Amtrak California Buses: Two stops here. The 3246 West Florida Avenue is located at the busy Sanderson intersection about one mile west of the Hemet Valley Mall although a number of RTA buses that go to the transfer hub pass through the area. The 308 E Devonshire Ave stop is just a few blocks north of the downtown district, an ideal area to establish a second hub and future train station.


Multi-Modal: San Ysidro Transit Center
As you can tell, the outcome is a mixed bag and we'll continue to advocate for incentives for these and other Inland intercity carriers to stop their buses at or near public transit hubs. There's certainly many more examples that I can list. Feel free to add your findings to the comments.

I do have one exception to this general position which can involve very large bus terminals requiring multiple bus bays. I've already mentioned the San Bernardino Greyhound station could fall into this category. However, one clear example involves another Greyhound bus station in Phoenix. I've taken the bus out that way a few summers ago and that terminal is a very active hub--too big and too crowded to move to the city's primary transit center. The station which is very well maintained is located just to the west of the Sky Harbor Airport. Its vast size makes it look like a miniature airport as the terminal has numerous bus bays exclusively for Greyhound buses, several gates, a cafe, a large waiting area, and even a small arcade. I can say "good luck" trying to move this vast station anywhere near the Central Station Transit Center. For exceptional cases like this, a shuttle running every 15 minutes during the day between the station and the downtown transit hub with limited stops in downtown would serve as a productive alternative to relocating the huge terminal.

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