Transportation Tips: Let choice riders know of the bus transit system

Photo: Riverside Transit Agency

By: Nicholas Ventrone, Community Engagement Director

The Riverside Transit Agency has once again reported that bus ridership counts are at record levels. During Fiscal Year 2013-2014 which started on July 1st, 9 out of the 12 months through the end of June broke ridership records. According to an RTA press release, Riverside County public transit buses carried more than 9.5 million boardings, an all-time high in its 37 year history. RTA handled 9.2 million trips the previous year, a record back then. Year-to-year ridership gains are up 3.5%. But take a look at this stat: According to the American Public Transportation Association, nationwide transit ridership since 1995 is up a whopping 37%, outpacing the national population growth of 20%. That alone should be evidence to support the inclusion of transit infrastructure in highway and surface transportation improvement projects to address the growth demands.

RTA Chairman of the Board Jeff Comerchero reported that many RTA riders are choice riders, meaning they are not necessarily transit dependent. That generally includes commuters who elect to take the bus to/from work or school instead of driving. That is certainly true with RTA's partnership with the area's primary colleges through the Go-Pass and U-Pass programs. Moreno Valley College is the next school to be added.

RTA is also working on some other big improvements for its bus system. More on those in a moment, but first here are some of your views and comments I've found around the Internet concerning the current events of this week.

Your Views and Internet Comments on Current Events

Any updates on Perris Metrolink? I'm wondering if RTA will have better connections to the new line than they currently have to Corona (especially late night and weekend runs). William-Robert Kent Cousert/Facebook

Construction of the Perris Valley Line (PVL), which will extend the Metrolink regional rail service into Perris via the 91 Line, began in October 2013. RCTC has posted on the PVL website that "it will provide greater access to Southern California’s commuter rail network for residents in Menifee, Murrieta, Temecula, San Jacinto, Hemet, Lake Elsinore and Wildomar." Earlier this summer, Metrolink added weekend trips along the 91 Line. Late 2015 is the predicted start date.

To answer the second question, RTA's updated COA to be finished within a few months will recommend the specific routing. I'm predicting a single-seat local or regional connector route between the planned Twin Cities Transit Center and the Perris Station Transit Center from early morning to late evening.

If (the I-405 toll lanes are) going to be open tolling for carpools like in San Diego, then we're talking. Nevram Norman/Facebook

Graphic: OCTA/I-405 Improvement Project
As I've mentioned Wednesday, if Caltrans adopts the Coalition's position of free non-transponder 2+ carpooling with bus transit infrastructure for the I-405 Improvement Project in Orange County as demonstrated in San Diego County, we might begin to see some agreements form in this debate. Parties from both sides--both supporters and dissenters--should do a field study of the I-15 Express Lanes and advocate for its usage policy: All HOV's and carpools 2 or more travel toll-free with no transponder requirement; only solo drivers have to use the FasTrak and pay tolls which would be used to fund BRT express services and basic maintenance of the corridor. Should the lanes approach full capacity even with high tolls, carpools only. That is the fair thing to do.

This is good. The 1/2 cent sales tax will fund the (I-405 freeway) expansion and then you get to pay again when you use it. Isn't working for the government wonderful. Not so much for the taxpayer. Patriot_ll/CBS 2 News

Orange County's M2 1/2 sales tax will actually pay for the addition of one general purpose lane for the I-405 corridor. Caltrans will be seeking an alternative funding source for the 2nd HOT lane. Thus, the M2 money will not directly apply to the toll lanes. But the commentator does have a good point: What is seriously questionable is the conversion of the existing, single paid-for carpool lane to toll. If the 2+ HOV's are required to have transponders or pay discounted tolls, motorists not opting to get a FasTrak would see no net-gain in the M2-funded lane addition although some of the general purpose lane traffic will be redistributed to the HOT lanes.

(Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi) did the wrong thing and should have to face the consequences like anybody else...he took loaded weapons into Mexico - I don't have any sympathy. You do the dance, you pay the piper. He needs to serve his time just like any other criminal. One excuse is as good as another and he didn't take any wrong turn...covering up for something. - Donna Johnson/NBC 7 San Diego

An abundance of evidence shows the Marine could have very well turned into Mexico by accident. In the US justice and trial-by-jury system, that's called reasonable doubt and that's why we Americans should not convict him nor anybody else in similar circumstances of intending to smuggle weapons or aiding and abetting the drug cartels. Fair-minded individuals would find Tahmooressi innocent of posing a threat to Mexican citizens. The Mexican law of 7-21 years in prison for such a mistake, and the requirement for a defendant in that country to prove his innocence in front of a biased judge without judicial discretion instead of the prosecutor having to prove guilt in front of an impartial jury--Absolutely inhumane. Mexican judges have the power to gather evidence in a criminal case on their own which easily wipes out impartiality and fairness all together. Tahmooressi is in a position where he has to prove his innocence or face years of prison, and that is the truth. That's why the federal government has an obligation to get these United States citizens, let alone a US combat Veteran diagnosed with PTSD out of that gross situation immediately. And the feds and the White House do have that negotiating power to get it done. Example: Turn these people back to the USA or trade agreements with Mexico will be cut off.

(Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi) was running guns. The Mexican authorities were waiting for him. I don't buy the story about accidentally going into Mexico. It's not like the border isn't well marked. - Jonathan Reid/NBC 7 San Diego 

Yes, the border is well marked; that is, along the I-5. That's not where the Marine made the mistake. The error occurred on Camino de la Plaza near the Border Station Parking Lot after dark where the unlit "Mexico Only - No USA Return" signs had decaying letters and vandalism. Also, Mexican authorities can wait and direct any incoming vehicle at its port to secondary inspection, even cars that get a green light to proceed through. News reports show Tahmooressi's car did not have a front license plate which is why he was pulled to secondary inspection upon the miss-entry. That evidence is still not sufficient to convict him of smuggling. He was moving to San Diego from Florida and that state does not require front license plates on its cars. That's a sound reasonable doubt.

Transportation Tip: Let choice riders know of the bus transit system

As our Inland Empire transit agencies work hard to secure the funds and improve infrastructure and speed up and expand services, we should encourage more choice-riders to try out the bus system.

RTA recently brought in a new fleet of transit buses, implemented Saturday service on some routes, and is working on extending service span into the later hours of the night for major routes. The Transit Coalition is calling for an early morning to late night service span on key routes and connectors as demands increase and market economy improves. RTA has many bus improvements in store for the region including bus shelter improvements at the Galleria at Tyler and Moreno Valley Mall transfer hubs. It is moving forward with RapidLink service between Riverside and Corona starting with peak hour limited stops runs of Route 1. In addition, a fresh Comprehensive Operational Analysis study will finished within the next few month which will provide a blueprint of bus service improvements. RTA's previous COA report was compiled in 2007 and it is posted at The Transit Coalition's website. Data and recommendations from the COA contribute toward the Coalition's future vision of Inland Empire Mass Transit.

Tip to bus riders: Let others know of the new bus transit options.