Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Let's Debate the Proposed Streamlined RTA bus services in Temecula/Murrieta

This is The Transit Coalition's concept of streamlining the bus routes in Southwest Riverside County that was put together a few years ago. Now, we have an official proposed solution by RTA.
Note: Coalition Concept only. This map is not endorsed or proposed by RTA.

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

The Transit Coalition has long addressed a serious transit mobility issue in Southwest Riverside County that involved slow circuitous routing, and now the public has an official RTA-proposed solution. One of Coalition's campaigns has been to have the bus routes serving the Temecula and Murrieta areas streamlined, specifically Routes 23 and 24. Currently, getting around the western portion of Murrieta and the central and southern areas of Temecula by bus involves a long circuitous journey aboard these two routes. Getting between one end of the region to the other can span several hours as Routes 23 and 24 circulate their way through town with many turns and loops.

The Coalition submitted a routing design idea into the debate years back which would follow the hub-and-spoke routing model with more direct service along commercial corridors.

Proposed Route 23 routing.
The Riverside Transit Agency has now made the streamlining an official proposal even though the routing differs from the Coalition's concept. Route 23 is proposed to be a local-plus-express route, serving the southwestern portion of Murrieta via Jefferson Avenue, the central area of the city via California Oaks Road corridor, and the northwest portion at the Inland Valley Medical Center area before transitioning to the I-15 freeway to the Lake Elsinore Wal-Mart transfer point. Route 24 is proposed to be a more direct bi-directional north/south circulator loop route serving the Jefferson and Margarita Road corridors. Bus riders will be able to get up and down these busy roads quickly for the first time.  Both lines will operate every hour each way.

In addition, the County Center transfer hub is proposed to be merged with the transfer point at the Promenade Mall area, which would allow for better transfers between CommuterLink and local routes. The mall will be used as the designated transfer point until the coming of the Twin Cities Transit Center which is proposed to be developed somewhere near Jefferson Avenue and French Valley Parkway.

Proposed Route 24 routing.
The question is: What do you think of the routing proposals?

My first opinions: Overall, they will be good for faster cross-regional trips up and down the valley. Off hand, I can say the streamlined routing of Route 24 will allow riders traveling from the Temecula Wal-Mart area to the transfer hub to have a much shorter bus trip; I predict a 20-25 minute trip versus over an hour. Likewise, getting in between Temecula and central Lake Elsinore will be cut down to about an hour via Route 23. It wouldn't hurt for RTA to go a bit further and establish a direct connection between Routes 23 and Route 22. That could be done by establishing a primary designated transfer hub in Lake Elsinore and routing all of the routes there. That would help greatly with connectivity.

On the other front, there are some valid concerns to the streamlined routing. For example, bus service to the County Center government offices and the busy and active Rancho California Road/Ynez Road intersection is proposed to be cancelled with no alternatives proposed. I am aware of that problem and will urge RTA to have those areas be maintained with another through-route, likely by maintaining the southern segment of Route 79 to Old Town via Ynez Road and routing Route 61 via Ynez and Date through northern Temecula instead of Margarita Road.

Anyhow, the route streamlining is long past due and will certainly help with transit mobility in the area. What do you think?

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