Wednesday, November 16, 2016

LA Measure M | A Winner for Inland Empire Transit

The existence of efficient local train and bus feeder connections at LA County Metrolink stations can make or break a trip by public transportation.


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


Last week on Election Day, Angelinos by a landslide super-majority vote approved taxing themselves so that they can get Southern California moving.

Measure M authorized an additional 1/2 percent sales tax for transportation and the indefinite extension of an existing 1/2 percent sales tax also dedicated to transportation which was originally set to expire in 2039. It required a two-thirds vote for passage; voters approved it 69.8% to 30.2%.

With the passage of this proposition, local LA County revenue for multi-modal transportation projects will be approximately $860 million annually for decades. That excludes additional outside funding the county could get from the private sector and feds. It will be kept local and cannot be repurposed elsewhere. That means numerous projects to improve transit mobility will be paid for and built. This includes rail service to LAX, the Metro JEM Line, the transit gap closures along the Metro Green Line corridor, HOT Express Lanes with rapid express bus service, and possibly MetrolinkMax. The people have declared: Enough of the sub-standard ways to get around LA.

Inland Empire residents need to be thankful too because this will directly impact the region. That's because commuters utilize regional services like Metrolink, express buses, and private carpools and HOV's to get into Los Angeles County.

If an upgraded transit system in LA can better bring people from the train station or hub point to their final destinations, more people would rideshare aboard one of these services instead of driving alone and contributing to Southern California's clogged freeway system.

Take for example the Metro Green Line and the I-105 Norwalk to West LA Corridor. Currently, there is a show-stopper rail gap in between the Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs Metrolink Station and the I-105 Norwalk Park & Ride Green Line Station. Once that hole is closed, passengers aboard the 91/Perris Valley Line can go all the way to LAX with one train transfer plus the connection to the LAX peoplemover line. Likewise, one can train all the way from the outskirts of Perris and arrive in Norwalk in about 1 hour, 45 minutes on Metrolink, transfer to the Green Line for a 15 minute trip to the Metro Blue Line transfer hub, and arrive at Downtown Long Beach 30 minutes later. Try making that commute by car on a Thursday or Friday afternoon. 

Likewise, passengers commuting into LA via the Riverside or San Bernardino Metrolink lines will have more places to go to once they arrive at LA Union Station with the expanded services. That includes the Downtown Regional connector project that combines the LA Expo Line with the East LA branch of the Gold Line and the Blue Line with the Gold Line's Pasadena Branch. That means one transfer at LAUS to get to the job hubs in West LA or Downtown Long Beach from both of these Metrolink routes.

The Inland Empire, mainly Riverside County, needs to get on board with this too. That includes ensuring that its HOT Express Lane proposals are able to support rapid express bus services with seamless connections to/from major hub points which include North Main Corona Transit Center, Rancho Cucamonga/Ontario Mills, Montclair TransCenter, Chino TransCenter, the San Bernardino Transit Center and downtown Riverside. The Foothill Transit Silver Streak, RTA CommuterLink and Omnitrans express services need to be able to utilize the Express Lanes while having smooth connections to/from these and other major hub points.

That will certainly connect the Inland Region with LA's growing public transit system and expand choices to get from here to there.

And memo to The Labor/Community Strategy Center, home of LA's Bus Rider's Union which opposed the measure citing class and racial discrimination: The proposal upgrades the Metro Green Line corridor, and brings two additional light rail routes and one bus rapid transit line right through South LA in addition to numerous sidewalk, street and local bus services improvements. The inner city community will certainly benefit and will not be excluded based on class or race, period. 

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