Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day, and Perris Valley Line Update

Today is April 22, and that means it's the 40th celebration of Earth Day. Today, when you're out travelling, make the environmentally responsible choice- go by train, bus, bike or foot.

Also, in response to a reader e-mail, I wanted to update you all on the Perris Valley Line. The RCTC released a new Draft Environmental Impact Report, detailing the project and its various impacts to the surrounding community in an attempt to assuage the concerns of local residents (read NIMBY's). While the project is far from derailed, the most significant change is the elimination of a UC Riverside station on the line, due to opposition about noise concerns from residents in the neighbourhood. The Commission had previously conceded every parking space at the station (something I supported) to alleviate traffic noise, but apparently that wasn't enough. A key thing to keep in mind is that the California HSR Authority plans to put the Riverside HSR station approximately where that Metrolink station was going to be. If the residents couldn't put up with the likely 4-5 trains per day, they won't be happy about HSR either.

If you'd like to comment on the proposed EIR, there is a public hearing tonight at 6pm at the Perris City Council Chambers, at the corner of Perris & San Jacinto in Perris and a few blocks' walk from the Perris Transit Centre, which is served by routes 19, 22, 27, 30, 74, 208, and 212 (though carefully check the schedule if you plan on using the 208 or 212). You can also mail comments to RCTC at:

Attn: Eliza Echevarria
RCTC
P.O. Box 12008
Riverside, CA 92502

until May 24th.

9 comments:

Eric said...

Actually, HSR has not determined where the stop in Riverside would be - and it is looking more likely that any stop Riverside receives will be absed at March ARB.

JN said...

http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/map.htm
That map explicitly says "UC Riverside" on the station location, so I'm only going off the information I have.

Anyway, a stop at March would be the most asinine idea I've yet heard out of HSRA. A UCR station would have been bad, especially on the back side of the campus like that, because of the severe lack of transit connections. A March ARB station would be abysmal- there's a whopping bus an hour that serves that area, and that's not going to change- the whole area is low-density McMansions and open fields. Riverside needs an HSR station, and it needs that station downtown, where all our other transport is. Otherwise, we will get no land-use impacts out of the station at all.

k said...

Took the bus today to attend the Riverside Film Festival on University.

Getting there was great.

Leaving the film festival, I came out to find major construction on University and the RTA traveling toward downtown IN THE LANE that usually takes traffic to UCR.

It was very unclear to me how to catch the bus, and if and where it would stop in a single lane packed with traffic backed up.

Luckily my sister called, and I walked down a few blocks toward downtown and she picked me up there.

That said, I do ride the bus and was able to share information with people about the Riverside Film Festival and tell a young woman who had been accepted at UCR and who was going to see UCR via the bus where UCR was located, that she would likely enjoy the school, the area, and as she would be majoring in English or journalism or something like that, that Riverside had lots of authors and that UCR was a very active interesting school and she would likely enjoy it there.

I also shared with others the riversider.org website that if full of great information on Riverside history.

Bus riding is a great way to spread information.

One rider though there should be more advertising about the Riverside Film Festival in and around Riverside, as no one on the bus had heard about the festival.

JN said...

k-

Buses are prohibited from stopping in construction zones. I'm personally of the opinion that temporary bus stops should be implemented any time they tear up more than a block or so of street, but I've seen sections of the 16 in Moreno Valley go for a mile or so of construction where one direction of the bus simply doesn't stop.

With the construction on University, I think it's done by Cranford, and most certainly by Chicago. A block or two's walk and you could have caught the #1. You could also have walked up a block to UCR and caught it, or caught the UCR shuttle in front of the movie theatre to the stop on Bannockburn, or caught the 51 or 53 on Iowa towards campus, or the 25 on Iowa heading downtown. It's too bad RTA doesn't mention these alternatives at the bus stop.

Glad to hear you're out riding the system, and thanks for the tip about riversider.org, I'd never been there.

Eric said...

Actually, from a land use perspective March makes perfect sense. If you believe that HSR stops are mini airports, only the March area has the space for future development. I am sure bus lines to that area will increase tremendously should a stop be put there.

Also, logistically, it would be a nightmare to try and get a stop in the downtown area. What route would you suggest they take? What makes more sense is to have a stop at March and then have dedicated bus service between the HSR stop and downtown.

JN said...

HSRA has already said that they want HSR to follow the UPRR Riverside branch into the IE. It should be therefore trivial for the trains to utilize the existing East Ontario station for the Ontario Airport stop (the airport station would be connected by a shuttle-bus anyway), and then follow the UPRR through Mira Loma and Pedley, cross the river near Van Buren and the current railway bridge, turn north into Downtown, stop at the current Marketplace station, and then continue north until the planned connection on to the San Jacinto Branch line. It might require a new railway bridge at the river, and at CA-91, but Riverside could benefit from trenching that railway right-of-way that travels straight through the heart of the city, rising onto at-grade structure at Magnolia (by which time the train should be below the required 110MPH for grade crossings). And hey, if you think a March Field stop is a good idea, that routing would allow them to have a stop there as well.

High-speed rail is not a development-driver by itself. I travel often, and even I can only see myself using the train a few times a month at best. People don't necessarily look for housing or office space next to the rail stop, just like a home next to the airport isn't on everyone's list. Also, it's not a driver for significant transit service by itself- you might see a dedicated shuttle that travels to the station to meet each train, at best. A frequent, all-day, daily transit line can't be supported by one big destination- it needs consistent density along its length. The Woodcrest/Orangecrest area doesn't have that density, nor is it designed to support transit- a bus line through there is doomed to mediocrity and hourly headways. To drive good transit-oriented development, you need frequent, all-day, daily transit service, and you need to combine local, regional, and inter-regional transit all in one place. HSR downtown, adjacent to the Metrolink and future RTA transit centre, will spur the re-development of the adjacent portions of the Eastside and the Marketplace area into high-quality, walkable and transit-friendly shops, homes and offices. HSR at March field will do no such thing.

Matthew said...

Well, wherever the high speed rail station is located, I hope they put a stop on the Perris Valley Line, too. It really doesn't make sense to create such a high traffic station and not make it as intermodal as possible. It would be great for me personally to take high speed rail to Riverside and then connect to my parents' house via Metrolink.

Matthew said...

Actually, I have another question I can't seem to figure out online. Why is it that Metrolink seems to specifically discourage people using its trains to get to Ontario Airport? I realize the station is a ways from the terminals, but other airports have shuttles to connect with trains (Miami and Ft. Lauderdale airports with their connection to Tri-Rail come to mind). The map on the Metrolink website doesn't even list Ontario Airport, though they list LAX, Burbank, and John Wayne: http://www.metrolinktrains.com/documents/Stations/MetrolinkMap.pdf
I've read that it's a priority to get a rail link to Ontario in order to reduce the burden on other Southern California airports. Both the Gold Line extension and California High Speed Rail list it as a main destination. Google transit suggests walking for ridiculous distances and connecting to *very* poorly timed buses. If this connection is a priority, why can't they start with a simple shuttle bus until high speed rail is built? As a longer term solution, could they build a Metrolink spur from the Riverside line to the planned location of the high speed rail station North of the airport? You could potentially have Metrolink, the Gold Line, high speed rail, and an international airport all at one station.

JN said...

@Matthew-
I do hope that the HSR station is strongly intermodal, not only with Metrolink connections but with plentiful local bus service. I think that will benefit not only passengers from greater Riverside, but it will provide land use benefits for the station area. It's because of this motivation that I want to see the station downtown- three Metrolink lines on weekdays, two on weekends, 17 bus lines on weekdays, 13 on weekends, and 6 Amtrak departures daily. Nowhere else in Riverside County has this kind of transit density.

As far as Ontario Airport is concerned, I believe the primary reason that ONT doesn't run shuttle service to East Ontario Metrolink is because the station is on the Riverside line- service is highly commuter-oriented and highly directional, which is inconvenient for air travellers. I'd like to see all the stations come together, but I'd like to see that anywhere it's remotely possible. I'm not sure about what the right-of-way issues look like in that area, but I do know stop cost would be a major concern.

In the meantime, the best way to ride the train to ONT is to either alight at Pomona-Downtown (on the Riverside line) or at Fontana (on the San Bernardino line). I know it's counter-intuitive when East Ontario station is airport-adjacent, but the Omni 61 serves both of those stations and the airport directly. No walking required, and it comes every 10-15 minutes, all day every day.