Saturday, January 16, 2010

Late-night hope!

Long-time readers and those familiar with Riverside transportation politics will be familiar with the roller coaster ride that has been rumours of late-night service this year. Last May, late-night service (until midnight on some routes, and 11pm on others) was proposed for a skeletal regional network, linking Riverside, Corona, Loma Linda, Moreno Valley, Perris and Hemet. Then the economy exploded, and the grant funding that RTA had for those late-night buses (from FTA's JARC program) was moved to cover other eligible projects. I understand that making the buses run more than every two hours in Lake Elsinore is valuable, but I was still miffed (a fact I made clear to the RTA Board). Since then, RTA has actually implemented one route's worth of late-night service: the 53 Bear Runner shuttle in the UCR area. It's a rather limited service, and is mostly used by students, but it is open to the general public, and it does run until half past midnight. I'm particularly happy that it runs within a block of my home, even if I normally cycle within its service area.

Well, it's about to get even more interesting. I was at the Greater Riverside Transportation NOW! meeting on Thursday, and the group is advocating single-mindedly for one thing in particular- late-night service. Robert Yates, Multi-Modal Services Director for RCTC, and Brad Weaver, RTA communications specialist, were in attendance, along with various community activists. At the meeting, the organization proposed that RTA speak with the Downtown Partnership, Riverside Plaza, and Galleria at Tyler about securing funding for late-night bus service along Route 1. Mr. Weaver agreed to look in to the possibility, and said he would report the results at next month's T-NOW! meeting. I don't know the attitudes of the various business associations involved, so I can't predict anything definitive, but we can all hope that this brings better transit service to our city. If this is in any way successful, I hope the Agency looks in to talks with UCR, the Moreno Valley Mall and surrounding businesses to spur late-night service on route 16 as well.

Personally, if I were appointed RTA dictator for the day, I would institute hourly service on routes 1, 15, and 16, with timed connections at the Downtown Terminal, from the current end of service until the current start of service. I think this would provide a network that puts most of Riverside within reasonable walking (or cycling) distance of a bus, 24 hours a day, and connects major nightlife and shopping together. However, just seeing route 1 extended would be a significant victory. Best of luck, RTA.

1 comment:

k said...

I sent an email to all Riverside City Council members, Mayor about the TNOW meeting, your Riding in Riverside comments (I pasted those in) and the fact that the City or Riverside should STOP giving a downtown business group use of one half the parking meter revenue to spend as they wish.

In years past the Council promised 100 percent of those parking meter revenues would be used for replacement parking AT the time when they voted to give away/sell daytime use of 400 parking spaces near the Riverside City hall to the developer who sold his building to the County for the DA's offices for a measly $4 million.

That side, using that 1/2 the parking meter revenue would make more sense to use to pay for a late nite bus or buses. That service WOULD BENEFIT downtown businesses, and also would benefit people for all over Riverside and perhaps visitors, AND THAT downtown parking meter revenue is paid by EVERYONE not just downtown businesses.

I have long requested that the City put on the City Council agenda an item to rescind giving 1/2 the parking meter revenue to a downtown group (the city holds the money and the downtown groups tells them what they are using that money for).

That would be a win win, and parking meter revenue should not be used to benefit soley that downtown group.

I also mentioned the topic briefly at Riverside City Council.

If the route was to include UCR, than it may be possible to discuss the matter with Mayor Loveridge, a UCR advocate and an advocate for making Riverside a City of Arts and Culture. The late night service would not only help downtown businesses but it would move Riverside toward becoming a center of arts and culture, and I personally believe would benefit downtown more than anywhere else as they have many events but citizens who want to attend, like UCR students have no means of transit.

I also said at the City Council meeting that the City should work with RTA on videos to be shown on The City Cable Channel which they refer to on Channel three as the G-TV or Government TV. They need to overcome the extensive bad press they gave to public transit repeatedly over many Council meetings about Greyhound saying that only drug dealers and criminals ride Greyhound, which they do not realize but those derogatory remarks transfer over to RTA transit as well.

I said the Council members and others of note, even Mr Bourns of the company of the same name should ride public transit.

I commented that if Riverside wants to be a real urban city and join the likes of Toronto Canada, London and Cambridge England, Paris France, Washington D.C., San Francico, and New York City, WHERE EVERYONE including top government officials and university professors ride public tranist, then they will need to work to remove the stigma, and let everyone know it is cool to ride public transit.

I also said the late night service is needed but not a done deal only an idea looking for money to fund the transit until better economic times, as RTA lacks funding to provide for all service at this time.

All Council members need to identify who may ride such a service: janitors, UCR students, people trying to get to meetings such as City Council on Tuesday nights, folks that want to go out in the evening . . . so RTA can better determine the best routes/times to meet stated needs.

What I did not say is perhaps a schedule could be made up listing the persons/groups/meetings/jobs and routes they would take and times they would need to arrive and depart. This may be far fetched.

For the La Sierra area a logical destination point/turnaround if any.

So I said at Riverside City Council 1/19/2010 6:30 or sent and email saying a good part of what is stated above.