June 2016 Inland Empire Transit Briefing

Metrolink 91 Line Train 702 departs from the North Main Corona Station for Riverside at about a quarter 'til five in the afternoon. Starting today, it will go all the way to South Perris!

by: Nicholas Ventrone, Community Engagement Director

Grand Opening Today - Metrolink Perris Valley Line

The day has come. Regional rail service makes its debut into the Perris Valley area through Moreno Valley. The Metrolink Perris Valley Line is now open!

Weekday 91 Line trains 701, 703 and 705 which previously originated in Riverside will all now start at the South Perris Station and continue all the way to Los Angeles Union Station via Fullerton. The new intermediate stops from South Perris include the downtown Perris Station Transit Center, March Field/Moreno Valley Station, and Riverside Hunter Park with feeder service to UC Riverside. For the afternoon rush hour, trains 702, 704 and 706 will all continue past Riverside and return to Perris. In addition there will also be three short-turn round trips in between Perris and the Riverside-Downtown Station and two late PM peak hour one way trips each way between LAUS and Riverside. 91 Line weekend service between LA and Riverside remains unchanged.

Expect lots of excitement and widespread media coverage today of this long-awaited extension of the Metrolink 91 Line. All aboard!

Be sure to check out the full Metrolink schedule change that went into effect.

More Good News from RTA

The Riverside Transit Agency continues to bring us service improvements that will greatly help Inland Empire transit mobility. Three important developments took place since May.

First, RTA has launched new feeder service for the Metrolink Perris Valley Line. In addition, the agency adjusted ten existing bus lines (Route 13, 19, 20, 22, 27, 30, 61, 74, 208 and 212) so that they too can connect to the new regional rail branch. This will allow rail passengers to better connect between the train station and their final destinations.

Secondly, RTA is looking to get grade school students outside during their summer break with a 25 cent one-way fare deal. For the entire summer, June 1 through September 11, all students, grades 1 through 12, can ride any RTA bus for only a quarter each way. This includes CommuterLink and the beach bus runs of Route 202. The 25 cent fare and beach bus service will be a big draw for Southwest Riverside County youth; they can cool off and spend the whole day at the beach in Oceanside with transportation for 25 cents each way. I predict that 202 is going to be busy this summer.

Last but not least, expect a flood of new college students aboard RTA Route 3 and the connecting local and express routes that serve the North Main Corona Transit Center in August. In a landslide vote, students at Norco Community College have said "yes" to RTA's very popular Go-Pass program, which would give them unlimited rides on Riverside Transit Agency (RTA) buses for the next three years beginning this fall. The free rides also cover CommuterLink buses; Routes 206 and 216 currently connect to Line 3 at Corona. Students just swipe their student ID and they're good to go.   

The measure passed with a whopping 87% of the student body in favor. This adds Norco College to the list of participating schools with UC Riverside, Riverside Community College, Mount San Jacinto College, Moreno Valley College, La Sierra University and Cal Baptist University.

Carmageddon Gridlock in Southwest Riverside County

Last Saturday, a brush fire broke near the San Diego County line at the I-15 freeway just south of Temecula. The southbound lanes of the highway were closed for several hours as firefighters battled the blaze. Unfortunately, Carmageddon hell broke loose in Temecula as the southbound I-15 and just about every major north/south surface street in the southbound direction experienced gridlock with delays spanning 90 minutes to two hours.

On the northbound side of the 15, it was bumper-to-bumper from before SR-76 in Pala Mesa to the Riverside County border. Adding to the dilemma was the fact that Pala Temecula Road, the connector that links south Temecula to Pala was also shut down from another brush fire that broke the prior Tuesday. That left the two lane Rainbow Canyon Road and De Luz/Sandia Creek Roads as the sole direct links between the Inland Empire and San Diego County. Both were gridlocked as were the streets that fed into them.

Getting corrective action written up in a case like this caused me to scratch my head. Unlike solving commuter traffic gridlock issues that I've seen before in Corona, the solutions to leisure, holiday and vacation traffic gridlock is not necessarily promoting ridesharing or balancing the job-to-housing ratios. Also, carpool and high occupancy toll lanes just basically provides additional traffic lanes for these travellers given that the majority of them are HOV's, although to be fair, the I-15 could really use them for commuter rush hours in between the North Desert and Escondido. But they won't be any good whenever the freeway is closed for a brush fire.

The answer to solve leisure traffic problems is more long-range because the need is to develop infrastructure that will group these existing "Fam-pool" HOV's into one giant "carpool" to take them to major places like the beach, ballgame, theme parks, airports, and other popular entertainment destinations. That is called intercity passenger trains with funded bus feeder service. Getting a high speed intercity rail line for the I-15 corridor needs be cleared so that the private sector can invest, build and operate these routes.

For example, I'm sure there's enough market demand for a train route from the I-15 to the coast for summer beach-goers and the business operating the rail line will likely offer family fare packages and plenty of on-board entertainment and food. Plus, a tax break incentive could be offered to the high speed passenger rail providers if they allowed Metrolink to operate commuter-oriented bullet train runs on its tracks during rush hours.

Promoting Fatherhood and the Family on the Angels Express

Speaking of taking the train for leisure, you may have noticed the marketing theme for this year's Anaheim Angels Metrolink Express service is very pro-family. The theme is "Every Moment Matters" with the posters and ads showing a father spending time with his son aboard the train.

In addition, the Health & Human Services department has promoted the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse program with billboard ads. I saw one along the I-15 in south Corona.

The core problem of gang violence taking place in San Bernardino, South LA, Moreno Valley and neighborhoods in Riverside is the direct result of the lack of the domestic family unit, especially cases involving boys growing up without a caring father. The Families Civil Liberties Union compiled these disgraceful facts:
  • 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes (Source: Center for Disease Control)
  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes (Source: U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census)
  • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes (Source: National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools.)
  • 75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes (Source: Rainbows for all God’s Children.)
  • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (Source: U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census)
  • 80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes (Source: Criminal Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26)
  • 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes (Source: U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report)
  • 85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home (Source: Fulton Co. Georgia jail populations, Texas Dept. of Corrections)

I'm glad that pro-fatherhood messages are finally being put out there by our local agencies and federal government, especially with the Metrolink Angels Express service. But this is only the start. More messages like these have to be made, printed and posted. They need to be on our streets, bus stops, schools, tv commercials at home and any other needed location.

I remember growing up in school, and each year, Red Ribbon Week, the "Drug use is Life Abuse" campaign from the Orange County Sheriff's Department and programs like D.A.R.E. were all drilled into me by teachers in the classroom, the media and local law enforcement speaking at the school assembly. I was sold that drug abuse was not good and to not give into peer pressure. I'm grateful that I followed this advice.

This message combined with teaching youth to obey all righteous authority and turn to positive role models and mentors and not criminal gangs needs to be broadcast to every American citizen and their children. Messages to sponsor and mentor a troubled youth need to be put forth so they have somebody to turn to for help and acceptance in lieu of criminal drug dealers should their father at home be abusive or absent. We cannot allow any more troubled kids to be brought into a lifestyle that leads them to incarceration or premature death.

We need to deal with this serious social problem.