Minor changes: Routes 7, 11, 23, 40, 41, 61, 79
All of these routes have minor schedule tweaks to make better connections or better serve local demand. If you ride them, you should probably check the new times.
Mixed trip changes: Routes 12, 206
Each of these routes gained a new trip, but at a price: the 12 gained a 2:30p trip but lost a 4:30p, the 206 gained a new 4:36p southbound but will now short-turn the 5:22p trip.
Trip extensions: Routes 1, 12, 22, 51
Each of these routes will see morning, evening or weekend extensions of trips that used to short-turn. On the 1 in particular, all of the late-night short turns at Downtown Terminal have been extended all the way to UCR.
Frequency enhancements: Routes 1, 16, 19, 27
Each of these routes will see frequency improvements. On the 1 in particular, frequencies will improve to 18 minutes, approaching those of a moderately-useful urban bus system. On the 1 and 27, though, I worry that RTA is sacrificing clock-face scheduling for minor capacity improvement.
The 16 will see a return to clock-face scheduling, at a new 20-minute frequency. That said, it does come at a price: The route will now terminate at Downtown, lopping off the run it used to make up into the north side. The stretch is a hair under 2km, and alternate service is available on the 12 and (to some extent) 29, although I expect a lot of these trips will switch to walking or cycling.
Discontinued route: Route 53
And it's official-- we can lament the loss of our beloved
New destination: Route 210 to Palm Springs!
A gap that has existed in SoCal transit since 2004, with the demise of the SuperBus-equipped SunLink, will be filled. SunLine Transit (the primary operator in the Palm Springs area) will operate several trips that are currently run as the Route 210 CommuterLink. These trips will extend from Palm Springs all the way in to Riverside, continuing to make normal scheduled stops at Banning and Moreno Valley. There will be two westbound trips in the morning and two eastbound trips in the afternoon, and (as far as I can tell) no reverse commute or weekend service. RTA also says that their passes will be accepted between Banning and Riverside on Sunline-operated runs.
I think there are still some unanswered questions. First, will riders with universal transit passes, like CityPass and UPass, be able to ride the Sunline buses as well? Second, will RTA passes be good as credit towards the full Riverside-Palm Springs fare, or will such riders have to pay cash? Lastly, will Sunline passes be good for transfer to RTA at transfer points? But aside from all this, I'm glad to see this service start up, and hope that it sticks around a bit longer than the short-lived SunLink. (I must admit that I did always want to ride one of those SuperBuses, though, and never did get the chance.)
So there you have it, a service change update almost entirely filled with good news. Transit in Riverside is expanding, core routes are getting frequencies that are almost-useful, and ridership seems to be heading in only one direction: up.