Friday, January 30, 2015

Long-Range: All-Day RTA CommuterLink Express Buses

All Day Services Proposed by 2023: RTA plans to phase in all day services on key CommuterLink routes.

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


If you don't take the bus during the rush hour but need to get across the region quickly, there's a hint of good news in the horizon. RTA has big plans to expand its CommuterLink Express services. And longer-range proposals include extending the headways of several of the express bus lines to operate one bus every hour from early morning until the evening in conjunction with the existing peak-hour runs. The only catch is this good news will likely not appear in the Riverside Transit Agency's Ride Guide until 2023. However, it is an official long-range proposal to speed up off-peak bus travel tip times and high occupancy toll lane infrastructure projects need to be able to facilitate the expanded freeway express transit services.

Growing RTA CommuterLink Bus Services with IE Toll Lanes

RTA's CommuterLink express routes which were introduced last decade have been a success story for longer-distance commuters choosing to rideshare to work. They have long served the region's peak-hour commuters with express buses that connect workers directly to major job sites, the Metrolink regional rail system, and other multi-modal transit hubs.

Plans from RTA's Forward 10 Year Transit master plan calls for CommuterLink services to be increased on certain routes to provide more regional connections west into Orange County, down south to San Diego County, and across RTA's service area. Such plans include longer-range direct all-day services for the SR-91 corridor between the Village at Orange and UC-Riverside, the I-15 corridor between Corona and San Diego County, and the SR-60/I-10 corridor between Riverside and Montclair. The 91, I-15 and I-10 will have dual tolled express lanes as their HOV infrastructure. SR-60 has a single HOV 2+ carpool lane.

The candidates for the expanded services include most of RTA's inaugural CommuterLink lines including Route 204 between Montclair and Riverside, Route 206 between Corona and Temecula, Route 208 between Riverside and Temecula, and Route 216 between UC-Riverside and the Village at Orange. RTA also proposes all day service for Route 217 into Escondido.

Potential All-Day CommuterLink Rebranding: "ExpressLink" or "RapidLink Express"?

It might not be a bad idea for RTA to recategorize the all day services from "CommuterLink" to "ExpressLink" in 2023 since the services will no longer be rush-hour-only oriented. Fares would be the same, but with the all-day routes rebranded and targeted more toward the general public.

In addition, thanks to tolled express lane infrastructure coming to many of the corridors, the freeway express lines could become Riverside County's "RapidLink Express" once growth and ridership demands call for 30 minute all day/15 minute peak hour headways further down the road. That's why toll lanes need direct access ramps, or at the very least, intermediate access points between the lanes and adjacent transit stations and hubs.

Direct Access Ramp for the I-15 Express Lanes in San Diego County
In addition, RTA plans to introduce additional peak-hour CommuterLink services in conjunction with the opening of the 91 Express Lanes extension through Corona which includes direct connections to the Anaheim Resort area and a one-seat ride between Temecula and the Village at Orange. That means both the 91 Express Lanes through Corona and the future connecting I-15 Express Lanes will certainly need to connect seamlessly with the North Main Corona Transit Center.

I'll compile a more detailed route-by-route and corridor-by-corridor run down how the expanded services will fare in conjunction with the region's high occupancy express toll lane proposals. If the HOT lanes are designed right with seamless connections to/from the transit stations, we could have a first-rate freeway express bus system option with robust multi-modal stations and efficient waiting facilities away from the noisy freeway by 2023. Add to that potential "RapidLink Express" services we can call our own.

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