COMMISSION APPROVES TRANSIT FUNDING FOR FISCAL YEAR 2011/12
As the regional transportation planning agency, the Commission is responsible for planning transit services, allocation of transit funds, operator oversight, and performance monitoring. In June, the Commission approved the Short Range Transit Plans (SRTP) for public bus and commuter rail service providers. The SRTPs identify operating and capital budgets as well as funding sources, and serve as blueprints for the future development of transit services, operations, and infrastructure. Based on the approved SRTPs, the Commission approved approximately $179 million in funding to cover the operating and capital costs for seven public bus operators and Metrolink commuter rail services for FY 2011/12. Overall transit ridership is projected to be 16 million, which is approximately 2% higher than the current year ridership.
PERRIS VALLEY LINE FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT
The Commission approved and certified the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for a 22-mile extension of the Metrolink system between Downtown Riverside and Perris. The vote to approve was a unanimous 27-0.
The Perris Valley Line will extend the existing Metrolink 91 Line from Downtown Riverside to the city of Perris. The new line will travel along existing rail tracks located primarily next to the 215 freeway. The effort adds new train stops in the Hunter Park area of Riverside, March Air Reserve Base, Downtown Perris and South Perris near State Route 74. Along with the stations, RCTC is working closely with the Riverside Transit Agency to coordinate connecting bus service to the trains.
The $237 million project is expected to begin construction early next year and open in 2013. The project has garnered an initial award of
$75 million from the Federal Transit Administration with the remainder to be financed through voter-approved Measure A dollars and state funds.
The goal of developing Metrolink service to Perris was outlined in the Measure A expenditure plans approved by voters in 1988 and in 2002. Riverside County was the first county transportation agency in Southern California to dedicate a portion of its half-cent sales tax program starting in 1988 and voters reaffirmed an extension of the program in 2002 that specifically indentifies the Perris Valley Line.
Community support for the project has been critical and one part of the Commission's action was to approve a memorandum of understanding with the Riverside Unified School District, which addresses a number of safety, landscaping, and coordination issues at two nearby elementary schools.