Monday, October 13, 2014

The Transit Coalition releases its view of RTA's 10 Year Proposed Transit Plan

The transit agency also takes the time to listen to the public, the right thing to do.

Transit Talking Points by: Nicholas Ventrone, Community Engagement Director
riversidetransit@gmail.com


The Transit Coalition has released its positions for the proposed Riverside Transit Agency 10 Year Transit Plan.

Follow this link to view it:
The Transit Coalition Recommendations to Riverside Transit Agency 10 Year Transit Plan

I want to thank the followers of this blog and our social networking pages for providing constructive comments to us. Your remarks have assisted the Coalition in forming fair and just positions.

RTA is to be praised for how it handled this public hearing. According to the October 1st RTA Board Administration and Operations Committee Meeting Agenda, the outreach program has been successful. At the time of the publishing of the agenda packet, RTA received 375 comments from 600 individuals.

The comments received by RTA show strong endorsement of plans to improve service frequencies and expand evening service hours on key lines, strong support on standardizing frequencies to improve connections and additional strong backing of improving passenger amenities. The Coalition is on board with these as well.

In addition, RTA noted a broad acceptance of the downtown Riverside transit modernization plan which calls for upgraded bus stops in Downtown Riverside and redesigning the bus network where only selected bus routes stop at the proposed Vine Street Transit Center. We supported the modernization plan of the downtown area bus stops, but urged RTA to maintain the hub-and-spoke routing design so that timed transfers can be better engineered with the less frequent routes. That can be engineered more efficiently if all routes ran through the transit hub, not just a few.

In addition RTA reported public concerns over the loss of direct transit service through central Wildomar, the proposed route restructuring in Hemet which included the proposed cancellation of Route 212, loss of Metrolink station connectivity with Route 1, loss of direct connections to the logistics employment hubs currently served by Route 19 and the proposals to combine Routes 12 and 14 which respectively serve Olivewood Avenue and Indiana Street through South Riverside.

One other point of praise for RTA: A government agency that listens to its people during a public hearing period. I thank PE reader commentator George Hamilton for the tip.

According to reports by the Press Enterprise, two proposals have been amended based on feedback which are the proposed Route 10/14 consolidation and the proposal to cancel service south of central Wildomar which would have cut off connections to a senior community and assisted living facility. RTA has listened to the public's concerns even though contracted professional transportation planners and engineers studied the area beforehand and formed different conclusions. The point is whenever a local resident has a valid fact-based point that questions any government proposal, the agency needs to listen and take that under consideration even if the professionals conclude otherwise. RTA has done exactly that with these two amendments.

RTA is also one of a few agencies that provides ongoing public forums for riders through Transportation Now. "Public hearings" never close there. We are thankful that Riverside County's bus transit agency does this for its people. Local elected officials should know that this is the right thing to do.

With that, let's bring up the Corona Transit Center and 91 Express Lane Extension project now under construction in Corona.

Need to address: Excessive Route 216 backtracking required for 91 Express Lanes access between transit centers.
Note: Extended routing to Anaheim is concept only.
Not endorsed by RTA or OCTA.
Back in 2009, the City of Corona requested the Riverside County Transportation Commission to study a 91 Express Lanes intermediate access point at spots just west of the transit center--specifically, a mid-city intermediate access point at Lincoln Avenue or a direct access ramp at Smith Avenue to/from the west. Such an access would have allowed transit buses to seamlessly access the HOT lanes from the Corona Transit Center.

When RCTC conducted its engineering study, it concluded that placing a mid-city intermediate access point or a direct access ramp in Corona was not feasible. Thus it was not selected as a feature for the RCTC project.

Excessive weaving and Express Lane performance issues were cited as reasons to not include the intermediate access point while high costs, property acquisition and possible deterioration in HOT lane operations shelved the direct access ramp proposal despite the fact that the I-15 Express Lanes in San Diego County has both of these features with the freeway corridor carrying more cars per day than the 91 with similar long distance commuting patterns. The unintended consequence is that Route 216 and 3-person carpools originating from the Corona station will have to backtrack excessively to a junction beyond the 91 and I-15 interchange in order to use the new HOT lane infrastructure, resulting in lost productivity.

Restricting intermediate access to 3+ HOV's during peak travel times can offset 91 HOT lane performance issues raised by RCTC. This could allow for a mid-city access point in Corona to be more feasible and allow express buses seamless access between the Express Lanes and Corona Transit Center.
Note: Coalition Concept Only. Not endorsed by OCTA or RCTC.
We brought this to RTA's attention and we hope that officials from both RTA and RCTC listen to this valid reality and draw a workable solution to this issue so that both express transit buses and other high occupancy vehicles can seamlessly connect between the North Main Corona Station and the 91 Express Lane infrastructure. A possible work-around now in place by other HOT lane operators is to restrict intermediate access to 3+ HOV's at times when the Express Lanes are approaching capacity.

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