I have been using public transportation for almost twenty years in the Inland Valley and beyond. I previously have been skeptical about the SBX project and not a big fan of the Rail to Redlands project. However the Gold Line extention project has some cards up its sleeve to do better things than the other two projects.
People can easily reach Ontario Airport instead of taking a taxi, park their vehichle for several days or have someone drop them off. People can reach Pasadena, Azuza Pacific University, Union Station, China Town and East Los Angeles.
The only issue is funding. San Bernardino County officials are stating that this is a pet project for the San Gabriel Valley people in Los Angeles County and why should San Bernardino County people pay for this back in 2014 in a San Gabriel Valley Tribune article which the executive director of SANBAG stated that.
Los Angeles County residents and shoppers do pay an extra cent sales tax to pay for projects such as the Gold Line. However since the Gold Line is not entirely in San Bernardino County, perhaps a fourth of a cent increase would be added to fund Omnitrans and the San Bernardino County portions of the Gold Line. To protect taxpayers, there would be a provision that increases in the sales tax would have to go to the voters.
Another option is to add a small surcharge to airline tickets. Fifty cents for flights under 200 dollars, and 1 dollar for flights over 200 dollars.
State and federal funding would also be critical for a project like this to break ground in the next decade as well. Most people would rather see local light rail over the bullet train boondoogle if we had to choose a transportation project to fund.
Personally I would rather see the Gold Line extention over toll roads.
Since there is a big push for sustainable development and stack and pack housing there is one thing we should ask our local elected officials in particular the ones who sit on boards such as SANBAG, SCAG, Omnitrans and its High Desert counterpart Victor Valley Transit.
I know there is a desire to get people from not relying on their cars, but could our elected officials could spend a day with just using mass transit to get from place A to place B. This could help our elected officials explain why when mass transit customers have means to own their own cars they are not likely to use the bus to go to work or go shopping.
Developers such as the Lewis Companies with their plans to transform the Empire Lakes Golf Course across the street from the Ontario Mills into a master planned apartment complex with shops nearby so people would not be relying on their cars, they said there would be a shuttle called “The Vine” to take people from the shopping opportunities nearby so they would not be driving. However what happens if you want to go to Kaiser Hospital in Ontario or Fontana or need to go to the drug store to get some cold medicine at 3:30 in the morning, will Omnitrans or the Vine take those people to the places they need to go?
When you are relying on mass transit you are constrained by the schedule of the agency. Some people may work graveyard shifts in the warehouses of the Inland Valley. If they want to work they have to drive for better or worse. It feels like Cinderella and her pumpkin carriage when the last bus of the day is over and you have to wait for 5am for the next day’s service to begin. Service has to be frequent, convenient and in some cases 24/7 on routes 1, 14, 61, 66, 84 as examples with Omnitrans.
I would like to be humane for this experiment. For the Board of Supervisor members they would just go from their residence to their district office. City council members would just go from their home to their city hall or even their primary workplace if applicable. I think if our local elected did use mass transit for at least one day a year they would have a better understanding of the issues when it comes with Omnitrans and Victor Valley Transit or even development plans when it comes to city or county planning issues. Its only wishful thinking to try to satisfy the mind of SCAG executive director Hasan Ikhrata.
Its illogical to expect people in the Inland Valley to give up their cars. Its like mom and apple pie. We want smart growth, but we want fiscally responsible and environmentally friendly growth at the same time. We want transportation that people will use by choice not by the edict of a government planner.
As a working class Republican I am told that Democrats are supposed to represent people like me. However it seems they are making it harder for people like me to live our day to day lives. For many of us to survive we have to drive to work where employers ask their workers to use their car to do job obligations. If you use 20 gallons of gasoline a week that is 125 dollars a year redirected from life’s necessities such as buying groceries or paying utilities.
I know we want better roads, but when our state has one of the highest gasoline taxes we should ask ourselves how we are spending the money before consider raising gas taxes or vehicle registration fees which also will rise. Are revenues being consumed by top heavy administration which prevents us from repairing our bridges and roads? Questions need to be investigated and answered before taxes rise.
Agencies such as SCAG and SANBAG want us to get out of our cars and use mass transit such as our local bus system or commuter rail such as Metrolink, but if we want to do activities such as attending a ball game at Dodger Stadium or a concert at the Wiltern people in many communities are stranded when many bus routes end service around 10 or 11 at night.
If we want to adapt the modern vision that many of these organizations want to advocate then they need to practice what they preach and release the Cap and Trade revenues to expand service around the clock. There are third shift workers at distribution centers in Ontario, Fontana and Moreno Valley who would need a ride home just as much as people wanting to do events in Los Angeles.
I am not expecting Metrolink to run rail cars after 10pm, but we could use buses to transport people to the Metrolink stations so we can save money and provide service as demanded. If we end up needing more than 4 buses due to this added service then we have an indicator to the agency that regular rail service would need to be added late at night.
Then for the people who work at the distribution centers perhaps the owners of the companies who have their centers there could help underwrite the routes or neutralize their cap and trade taxes in exchange for doing this for the local bus agencies in their area. This would also allow for more people to be able to be employed and bring forth more opportunity to the people in our region at the same time.
We have to be inventive if we want progress to happen in our society. If you want us not to be using cars, you have to deliver the goods to the people of Southern California.
This is one of the route ideas I would like to propose to Omnitrans.This route serves destinations people value. Ontario Mills, Colony High School, East Ontario Metrolink and connection to Riverside Transit Agency with Routes 3 and 29 so you can go to Corona, Eastvale, Norco or Riverside.
It would take around 25 minutes to go through this route, but with extra stops I could foresee a route like this to be a 45 minute frequency route. Not quite 30 minute nor hourly service.
This would be contingent on funding of course. I sometimes wish I studied transportation planning as my subject in college.
Express buses may happen in a bigger number in the future with Omnitrans. They unveiled possible expansion routes for the sbX corridor system most likely based on existing popular Omnitrans routes. It is all contingent on funding from federal, state and county governments. I would be curious on when the next routes would be added to the system or converted over.
The Go Smart campaign has been a successful effort to help get cars off the road and help encourage new customers when the subsidy wears off when students graduate. When I was reading a flyer promoting the Go Smart program it did not openly advertise that in 2013, that college students will be paying full price if they do not belong to a Go Smart program participating campus.
There is one issue that Omnitrans transportation planners and the board fail to recognize that there are students who attend schools such as Cal Poly Pomona and UC Riverside which would still appreciate the student price or some savings in their fare. Perhaps we could do what Riverside Transit does and offer a youth fare that would be the
current student pass and keep the college fare at five bucks more than youth monthly pass. So I would suggest 35 for student, 40 for college (adult student).
Providing opportunity to help people get to their school or workplace is an investment. Discontinuing the student fare for non participating go smart institutions would be a huge disservice. Encouraging more people to utilize Omnitrans services would be a better goal. Offering passes to those who have a valid course of study at San Bernardino County private colleges such as University of Redlands or public colleges that Omnitrans customers travel to such as University of California Riverside would be a plus. I remember traveling from Ontario to Riverside three times a week going to school without express bus connections like the RTA Route 204 which could of made my life easier.
I hope that an Omnitrans executive or a board member from the agency reads this posting.
This was another column I submitted to the Highlander, but it did not make the cut.
Our campus is growing each year. Parking is one obvious factor that gets worse as the years go by. New buildings have taken away parking spaces close to campus where transportation hub number one becomes the de facto choice for parking. Not all of us utilize the mass transit system that helps to get motorists off the street. The loss of individual freedom in where you want to go is one reason why many individuals still keep on using their automobiles. We come to campus from many different places, but for those who do not live close to UC Riverside commuting with mass transit is not pretty. People who I have come across mention one word when one has to travel a long trip which is the Metrolink commuter rail system. Metrolink has done wonders for the people who wish to avoid the 91 freeway when commuting to Los Angeles or Orange County, but there is a strong bias for those suburbanites who could not afford living in those counties. Looking at the San Bernardino line which goes from San Bernardino to Los Angeles and the Riverside line which goes from Riverside to Los Angeles the trips are not evenly balanced throughout the day. This leads to some to consider the bus system, which also has it’s benefits and it’s flaws.
Mass transit has its benefits. You can unwind by reading your assignments for class and get them done by the time you get home. Environmentalists will also like the fact that Riverside Transit Agency uses Clean Natural Gas fuel. The bus stop is located near Lothian Hall or Banockburn placed near the campus compared to the majority who has to use the transportation hubs. Parking services will gladly sell students, staff and faculty the necessary passes from Metrolink and the Riverside Transit Agency. The problem with fixed route service is if you are not taking a direct connection to the destination you need to go to you may end up waiting for the difference between the other bus. You are able to attend over 75 percent of the classes on campus without the need for a car, but for some you may have to take your car to class or beg for the kindness of strangers for a ride back.
The way home is also a problem because the bus operators are not likely to make their destinations during the approximate time. Traffic congestion at night has made bus service intolerable for many. Route 16 from Moreno Valley going to Downtown Riverside on Iowa and University around 5:10pm has been consistently late ever since October 2001. Route 100, a freeway express route to San Bernardino operated by Omnitrans fluctuates like the lottery due to it’s use of the freeway. The 91 freeway makes up a significant portion of the route and during rush hour I have cringed when I have missed my connection due to bottle neck traffic.
The late bus unfortunately causes missed connections to the routes needed to finish the journey. Los Angeles County has a superior transportation operation that makes life easier without a car a better option. Unlike San Bernardino and Riverside County most of the routes in Los Angeles County have a better frequency interval that makes getting to your destination painless along with 24 hour service for a half dozen routes. Unfortunately Southern California is not New York City, a car is strongly recommended. If these inconveniences can be fixed for the rail and bus system then the university population would reconsider using their vehicles to lighten the loan on the roads. First, Metrolink needs to partner with neighboring mass transit agencies to consider bus routes to supplement service during off peak hours. Second, the Riverside Transit Agency should consider signal manipulation technology as demonstrated with the Los Angeles MTA in their Metro Rapid may be necessary for RTA’s high demand routes. If the agencies can do the above then mass transportation will become a positive option for all.