Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Let's Debate: What is the best way to route transit buses in Downtown Riverside?

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


Short answer is a streamlined hub and spoke routing design where routes terminate or run through a single multi-modal transit center in the downtown area given that the majority of the RTA bus routes operate less than one bus every 15 minutes and such a design would better allow for timed transfers. If each route operated at least once every 15 minutes, a non-centralized grid routing design would fare better as curbside wait times would be guaranteed to be 15 minutes or less.

However, a major proposal mentioned in the proposed Riverside Transit Agency's 10 Year Transit Plan is a restructure of routes that serve the Downtown Riverside area. RTA plans to direct some bus routes to a new transit hub at the downtown Metrolink station while other routes would serve enhanced stops along major downtown streets. That's because ridership demands at the existing Downtown Terminal hub has exceeded capacity. Here is how RTA describes the proposals:

The new proposed Vine Street facility would be served by RTA routes 15 and 22, as well as CommuterLink Express routes 208, 210 and 216, and Omnitrans Route 215 and SunLine Route 220. One of the greatest benefits of the move is the opportunity for seamless travel between RTA buses, Metrolink trains and other regional transit service providers.

All other RTA routes would continue to serve downtown Riverside at enhanced stops along major streets, where customers would benefit from more frequent and direct service to destinations. Of the 37 total bus stops planned in the downtown area, 20 would be new or upgraded stops, transformed into modern shelters equipped with real-time passenger information showing when the next bus will arrive, as well as solar-powered lights that will keep the stops illuminated during evening hours. Looking ahead, RTA believes that a new service strategy is necessary to meet current and future transit needs in the downtown core, while improving traffic flow, service frequency and efficiency.

The Transit Coalition would certainly like to see "the opportunity for seamless travel between RTA buses, Metrolink trains and other regional transit service providers." Proposals should be straight and fair. That is a reason why we support placing the downtown transit center at the train station itself. However, because of the fact that several bus routes are proposed bypass the hub, we are taking a critical look into this proposal.

I have been receiving constructive feedback and valid points on this debate. To name some:
  • Will there be seamless transfers between Metrolink and bus routes headed to/from UC Riverside, Moreno Valley, Highgrove, Country Village and the busy Magnolia Avenue corridor served by Route 1? 
  • How will pedestrians reach the downtown core from the hub with the 91 Freeway in the way? 
  • Will Metrolink train riders be able to transfer to a downtown RTA bus route that won't directly serve the actual station area with their valid train tickets?
  • How can Omnitrans Route 215 better connect to the Metrolink San Bernardino Line?
  • Can the Vine Street Transit Center physically accommodate more bus routes than proposed?
  • What about ensuring space for intercity providers like Greyhound, the Megabus, and Amtrak California buses?

These are all valid questions that need to be considered in this debate. On top of our original idea of a private developer fully paying for and building the transit infrastructure at the Metrolink train station that would support a true and robust multi modal transit hub with about 20 bus bays, structured parking, a pedestrian bridge across the 91, streamlined access to/from connecting roads, and a robust marketplace job hub, I'll be forming other alternative ideas that will be submitted on this blog and to RTA public record as the public comment period continues. These solutions will be straight and fair. But I need your continued help and input. Please continue to post or submit constructive comments and concerns about the proposals to us.

2 comments:

  1. Omni 215 will take care of the connection to the Metroline SBD line pretty well when the Transit Center and Extension in downtown San Bernardino are completed within the next two years.

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    1. Marven, that's very true and very desirable. However, that connection will not happen until 2016 when the extension in finished. What can the governments do now to improve the Line 215 connection while we wait for the infrastructure?

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