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Riverside Transit Center Mired in Political Money Games
(10/4/2012)

Stop the Madness: Incline the Private Sector to Invest in the Vine Street Riverside Transit Center and a bridge across the freeway.

RTA Vine Street Transit Center Concept

Lack of public funding has long been a reason why many Riverside Transit buses don't operate during late night hours and why several capital improvement projects seem to be moving along at a snail's pace. This includes a long-awaited transit center just footsteps from the train platforms at the Downtown Riverside Metrolink Station. However, there may be some contributing factors behind this "lack of funding" appearance. As The Transit Coalition and local press have been reporting, political games with Inland Empire transportation money have reached epidemic proportions. The September 2012 RTA Board of Directors Agenda illustrates the latest money madness with not only Downtown Riverside's Metrolink bus transit center project, but also a planned inter-modal facility in Temecula.

Lack of Public Funding Efficiency and Fairness in Temecula:
The federal government awarded RTA over $1.3 million toward the development of an intermodal transit center in Southwest Riverside County at the border of Temecula and Murrieta. Despite the fact that the Twin Cities Transit Center has been in RTA's plans for several years, the Federal Transit Administration de-obligated and rescinded those funds because the money appeared to sit idle for too long. The problem is RTA was caught in a catch-22 situation; additional funding had to be secured before the federal money could be spent. How can the feds expect RTA to spend money on a worthwhile project that the agency doesn't have?

Lots and lots of cash. The Politics of the Vine Street Riverside Transit Center:
Likewise, $7 million has been secured to date for a transit center in Downtown Riverside that was planned to be built next to the nearby Metrolink station. However, the same federal time clock is ticking on $3 million of its funds. Earlier in September, the Riverside City Council responded by allocating the federal money toward improvements of the existing Downtown Terminal station with the local money toward the Metrolink transit station. However, the City Council does not have fiduciary responsibility over the project's funds; RTA does...and the transit agency had other plans.

Back to the Downtown Terminal Drawing Board:
The RTA Board of Directors instead voted to direct the transit center's local money toward a full scrap-and-build renovation of the existing Downtown Terminal and the next door Greyhound bus station at $4.5 million. The remaining federal money would be spent on constructing bus bays, not at the downtown Metrolink station, but at the RCTC-proposed Hunter Park train station.

Incline the Private Sector to Invest in the Station:
The truth is the Downtown Riverside area is in desperate need of a private sector job marketplace and The Transit Coalition has offered concepts to address this. A strong private marketplace is imperative for a healthy public transportation system. And we are not buying "lack of funding" until the political football games stop.

Public transportation officials need to understand that giant money games like these which are going on at all levels of the public sector negates mobility and quality of life.

Once again The Transit Coalition believes public agencies should respect transportation dollars, coordinate efforts, and work together for a first-rate transit system. Bickering and strict rules only game the system and we all pay for it. The City of Riverside is starved for private sector jobs and is long overdue for a multi-modal transit center with across-the-platform rail-to-bus connections. Incline the private sector to invest in the downtown Metrolink station. "Lack of funding" is no excuse.
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