Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Debating the Proposed RTA Bus Routing through Downtown Riverside and Corona


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


As this blog has mentioned previously, the Riverside Transit Agency has proposed a number of major bus route changes for Riverside, especially through the downtown area. In addition there are proposed changes to RTA Route 1 through Corona. I continue to receive constructive feedback and valid points on this debate.

Regarding the future of proposed bus service in Downtown Riverside, officials have big plans to upgrade the the downtown area's bus stop amenities and build a new transit station on Vine Street next to the Metrolink station in lieu of expanding the existing downtown terminal bus station.

Good.

We need the infrastructure that would support better connectivity between the transit buses and our regional rail system as well as efficient bus stops in the downtown core. But the current plans call for routing only local lines Route 15 and 22 together with most of the express lines to the new station. This would mean that other downtown routes that travel through would not stop there.

Because only Routes 1 and 16 are proposed to have very frequent service that would guarantee short waits at street-side bus stops (15 minutes or less), the Downtown Riverside bus transit network could be severely broken by a lack of timed connection points; that's because engineering 10-15 minute street-side timed transfers at intersections in a grid-based bus system is very difficult to attain since the other bus routes would have a frequency of less than one bus every 15 minutes. Unless planners can engineer timed transfers which would guarantee short layover periods between Metrolink and every bus route passing through downtown, we should advocate that each route connect at the station under the hub-and-spoke routing model even if that meant establishing a separate remote layover zone for lines that terminate at the station. That would make engineering timed transfers in downtown more efficient.

Yes, the street design is difficult for RTA to route buses in and out of the Vine Street corridor and station area quickly. The circuitous street design of getting between University Avenue and Vine Street can make the deviation last in excess of 10 minutes or more. That's where the City of Riverside needs to take a leadership role in getting this bottleneck fixed. A sound starting point could be to establish a four-way signalized intersection at Vine Street and 14th and synchronize the traffic signal with the signals at the 14th Street interchange at the 91 Freeway. Bus-only lanes could help. Also, buses serving University Avenue or coming in from the north could be routed to Mission Inn Avenue between Park Avenue and Lime Street which would allow seamless access to Vine Street. Yes, this is all debatable. But one way or another, this problem needs to be fixed.

In addition, there is another potential connectivity threat that could occur in Corona. There is an ill-conceived proposal to have Route 1 once again bypass the Corona Transit Center. To be fair, bus routes in general need to be straight and direct as possible. But the Corona Transit Center is the main transfer hub in the local area and the transfer point for the North Main Corona Metrolink station which is about a 1/4 mile north of the Route 1 corridor. The lighter population density and less frequent connecting bus routes in Corona simply dictates that the region's bus routing design needs to be hub-and-spoke, not decentralized grid. It's also far too premature to cite a ridership productivity issue at the station itself; the Route 1 connection was established only four months ago and should be given at least a full fiscal year to mature.

Moving forward, there are a number of restructuring proposals planned throughout the greater Riverside area between Corona and Downtown. I'll analyze those next. Get those comments posted here or on the social networking sites and we'll talk again on Friday.

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