Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Let's Debate: The Proposed Split of RTA Route 27 between Riverside and Hemet

The proposed Route 27 changes also include the removal of the Sun City Center stop, but there are sound productive alternatives planned this time around.


By: Nicholas Ventrone, Community Engagement Director
riversidetransit@gmail.com


One of RTA's key backbone regional connector lines is Route 27 which links Riverside's Galleria at Tyler bus transfer hub with the Sun City Center area, Perris Station Transit Center, and Hemet. Line 27 is a lifeline route that connects these destinations together.

Splitting Route 27 into two segments at the Perris Station Transit Center

RTA has a proposal to split the line into two at the Perris Station Transit Center, improve service span and frequency, and cancel service to the Sun City Center stop. Under the hub-and-spoke routing model design which this proposal follows, splitting the line at Perris would allow for better timed connections and improved on-time performance with the layovers. The split will also better allow for seamless across-the-platform connections between Metrolink trains and the RTA bus network.

However, I well understand that cash-paying riders using the bus between Riverside and Hemet would need to pony up additional fare for the transfer. If the pool of passengers riding through Perris aboard Route 27 is significant, keeping the line as one with a short layover at Perris in lieu of a transfer combined with additional short turn trips between Perris and Hemet may be a better option. However, timed transfers and on-time performance are important factors for efficient bus service and splitting the line is a workable solution.

Proposal to cancel service to Sun City due low ridership

Regarding the removal of the Sun City portion of the route, this proposal came up before and RTA indicated that Route 74 operated similar routing. The removal of the Sun City stop and deviation would speed up Line 27's performance and productivity. The 74 would have seen a jump in productivity too as Sun City Route 27 weekday riders would migrate to the other line. However, The Transit Coalition previously opposed the proposal firmly. 5 1/2 years ago, here's what I and The Transit Coalition Chair Kenneth Alpern submitted to the agency:

We strongly object to the proposal to remove the Sun City Center bus stop from Route 27. Although, the proposal will greatly streamline and improve weekday productivity on Routes 27 and 74 , Route 74 does not operate on weekends; thus the Sun City area would be left without any public transportation on weekends under this proposal. We believe the demographics of the Sun City Center area warrant weekend public transportation service. We suggest that Route 27 bypass Sun City as proposed on weekdays only and that weekend Route 27 trips continue to serve the Sun City Center area until RTA has enough resources to introduce weekend service on Route 74. -TTC Comments for 2009 RTA Service Changes

Back in early 2009, Route 27 was the only bus route with weekend service that served Sun City. All other routes back then were weekday only. We and other concerned bus riders brought that to RTA's attention, and the agency decided to maintain the Line 27 connection both during weekdays and weekends, a smart thing to do. In addition, that was around the time when Route 61 was restructured from the unproductive Sun City Scooter circulator into a regional connector to Temecula. It was too early back then to advocate for expanded services for the 61 simply because RTA needed to build up the route's weekday ridership--which did happen. Today, the demographics are a bit different. At present, here are the lines that connect at the Sun City Center transfer point and their days of service:
  • Route 27: Weekday & Weekends
  • Route 40: Weekday Only
  • Route 61: Weekday & Saturday
  • Route 74: Weekday & Saturday
  • Route 208: Peak and Reverse-Peak Commuter Only
It's worth noting that Route 61 and 74 Saturday services are currently JARC-funded. However, the proposed transit plan calls for full weekend service with hourly headways on both lines. Establishing a timed transfer between Route 61, 27 and 28 would preserve transit mobility in Sun City while keeping the lines productive. Therefore, RTA's proposal is workable this time around.

That means the Coalition will back the Route 27/28 Sun City stop removal if all of these conditions are met either beforehand or simultaneously:
  • The JARC-funded Saturday services for Route 61 and 74 are included in RTA's regular operating budget for permanent operations.
  • Both Routes 61 and 74 attain Sunday service as proposed so that Sun City Sunday service is maintained.
  • Timed transfers are established at the Perris Station Transit Center.
Service Improvements

In addition to the split and Sun City stop removal, Route 27 will see frequency and span upgrades. The Hemet-to-Perris portion of the line will see its weekday headways doubled to every 30 minutes and both segments are proposed for later night service with the last bus arriving at its endpoint at 11PM. Also, both segments will see buses arriving every hour on weekends, a frequency up from every 75 minutes.

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