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San Bernardino Transit Center unites sbX BRT and Metrolink extension

Metrolink Extension and New Transit Center will enhance the connections between Inland Empire transportation systems 

The Metrolink passenger rail extension and the Omnitrans sbX rapid transit service provide new public transit options to Inland Empire residents.

SAN BERNARDINO, CA  – Changing the way people travel throughout the Inland Empire is the goal of two projects that started construction on Tuesday, February 25, following a groundbreaking ceremony in downtown San Bernardino.

The first project is the Downtown San Bernardino Passenger Rail Project (DTSBPRP), which will extend the Metrolink line from the historic Santa Fe Depot one mile east, where it will join with the second project,  the future San Bernardino Transit Center, to be constructed at Rialto Avenue and “E” Street in the city.

These two projects represent a partnership between the Federal Transit Administration, San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG), Omnitrans, Metrolink, and the City of San Bernardino.   Speakers at the groundbreaking included Leslie Rogers, Regional Administrator for the Federal Transit Administration, California Transportation Commissioner Joe Tavaglione, SANBAG President Bill Jahn, County Supervisor James Ramos, Omnitrans Chairman Alan Wapner, and Patrick Morris, who is both Metrolink Chairman and City of San Bernardino Mayor.

View more photos from the groundbreaking ceremony on Flickr.

Mayor Patrick Morris welcomed the crowd by stating,  “This marks the culmination of many years of work to bring these transformative projects to construction.  These two projects are examples of how creating intermodal connections between commuter rail, bus rapid transit, and local and regional bus service can provide enhanced benefits to current transit uses and make these travel modes more attractive to future riders in the region.”

Officials at the groundbreaking of the San Bernardino Transit Center

Officials pose with a punch card at the groundbreaking of the San Bernardino Downtown Passenger Rail Project and the San Bernardino Transit Center

Some major changes will occur at the historic Santa Fe Depot, currently the end of the line for the Metrolink commuter train service.  “Modifications at the Depot will create a beautiful grand entrance on the south side of the Depot and a new rail boarding area on the north side of the building,” explained Mayor Morris.  “A tall pedestrian bridge over the tracks will provide safe access for passengers boarding the trains going in either direction. The DTSBPRP will feature the addition of double tracks from the Santa Fe Depot  to the new Transit Center, along with roadway improvements.”

The Transit Center will be a multi-modal transportation hub where  13 local Omnitrans bus routes, the new sbX Bus Rapid Transit service, Victor Valley Transit Authority (buses from the high desert), Mountain Area Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) bus service, and Metrolink trains will all meet when the projects are completed.  The public can transfer from one mode of transportation to another at this hub and go in various directions.  Commuter rail service will eventually be extended nine miles further to the east via the future Redlands Passenger Rail Project. That project is still going through environmental studies.

“This is a great project, which will offer greater convenience and connectivity for the community,” stated Omnitrans Chairman of the Board Alan Wapner.  The Transit Center project represents more than a decade of visioning partnership between Omnitrans and SANBAG.

Members of the San Bernardino Chamber of Commerce

Members of the San Bernardino Chamber of Commerce are all smiles at the groundbreaking event.

The Transit Center will include a 7,500 sq. ft. building, 22 bus bays, customer service and pass sales office, security, restrooms, seating,  and shelter.  These amenities have not been available to transit customers in the past at one location.

“Combined costs for the two projects total $128 million, with funds derived from federal  sources ($37 million), state sources ($26.9 million), and local sources ($64.7 million),” stated SANBAG President Bill Jahn.  “Of the local funds, $27 million came from Measure I, the ½ cent sales tax approved by San Bernardino County voters for transportation improvements.”

The Transit Center is expected to be completed in Early 2015, while the Metrolink extension and Santa Fe Depot modifications should be completed by Summer 2016.

To follow the progress on these projects, please refer to the websites of SANBAG or Omnitrans:  www.sanbag.ca.gov   or   www.omnitrans.org.

Jane Dreher, Public Information Officer
San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG)
jdreher@sanbag.ca.gov 

Leslie Rogers of the FTA

Leslie Rogers of the Federal Transit Administration show his support for the groundbreaking ceremony of the future San Bernardino Transit Center.

Test your sbX safety savvy with this quiz

Dedicated center bus lanes and new traffic signs mean new rules of the road. Are you prepared? Test your safety savvy with this short  sbX safety quiz.

Need a little help? Our new safety video gives a quick look at some of the changes you need to be aware of.

Dedicated traffic signals provide faster ride

BRT signal with a vertical bar on a green traffic light. The system senses an approaching sbX vehicle, allowing cross-traffic signals to remain red until it has cleared the intersection.

One of the newer additions noticeable to motorists and pedestrians on the nearly completed sbX corridor are signal lights with a white horizontal bar on top and a white vertical bar below.

The specialized signals are found at various intersections between  E and 10th streets and Hospitality Lane and Tippecanoe Avenue, allowing the 60-foot-long bus rapid transit (BRT) vehicles to travel the corridor in significantly less time than if they were to operate under normal signalization.

Through this system, known as traffic signal prioritization (TSP), the sbX coach sends out a signal received along the corridor. That information is transferred to the city’s traffic control center. Timing is adjusted to keep traffic and the bus moving, said Joe Meidl , a project manager with Griffith/Comet, the joint venture contractor for the construction phase of the sbX project. “It keeps the bus and the general traffic in its direction moving and prevents idling, causing better traffic flow.”

BRT signal with a horizontal bar on a red traffic light. The sbX coach does not have to wait long to enter the intersection once it pulls away from the station.

Locally, The TSP method used by sbX is comparable to the one used in the City of Santa Monica, Meidl said. TSP, along with dedicated lanes that separate the vehicle from the general traffic and fewer stations than fixed-route service (one per mile, on average) contributes to fewer stops and a faster ride.

– David Rutherford
David.Rutherford@omnitrans.org 

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sbX Construction Activities Coming to A Close

Major roadway construction is now complete as streets have been paved and striped along the sbX corridor.

The New Year brings great excitement for the Omnitrans sbX team. Just under two years since the start of construction, major roadway construction is complete. Final work on the construction crew’s to-do list includes installation of station artwork, map cases and graphics of the new system, station seating, plus final landscaping and sign installation to make navigating the corridor easy. We’re so close to start of service that next month you will begin to see buses being tested on the road. With this new activity, it is especially important for motorists to pay close attention to the new rules of the road and to stay out of the dedicated bus lanes.

-Robert Chevez
rchevez@westboundcommunications.com

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Civic Center Park & Ride Helps Business Patrons

Businesses like Kore Skate Shop, 199 N. E St. – which has limited parking in the rear accessible from 2nd Street – will benefit from the addition of a park-and-ride lot on the third floor of the Civic Center parking structure to offset the elimination of curbside parking on E Street.

Two hundred public parking spaces have been made available with the dedication of a park-and-ride lot on Level 3 of the Civic Center parking structure to offset the removal of spaces on E Street for the creation of a transit corridor.

Motorists can enter the structure from the east side of E Street between 2nd and Court streets; the north side of 2nd Street between E and D streets; and the west side of D Street between 2nd and 3rd streets.

A newly dedicated park-and-ride on Level 3 of the Civic Center parking structure will benefit patrons of Big 5 Sporting Goods, Minuteman Press and other E Street businesses.

The use of center-running lanes on E Street for the sbX bus rapid transit (BRT) service has eliminated left turns in and out of driveways between intersections.  Southbound vehicles entering the E Street entrance to the parking structure can make a u turn at 2nd Street or a left turn on 2nd and a left at the 2nd Street entrance.

Left turns in and out of driveways between intersections have been eliminated throughout the center portion of the BRT corridor, from E Street and 10th street north of downtown to Hospitality Lane and Waterman Avenue. To compensate for the loss of left turns, a total of 19 u-turn signals will be added to the corridor. Hospitality Lane between Waterman and Tippecanoe followed these traffic-flow patterns prior to the addition of center-running bus lanes.

–  David Rutherford
   David.Rutherford@omnitrans.org

New U-Turn at Fairway Drive

Last month our sbX newsletter featured an article about the center-median safety barriers that have been installed at various t-intersections along the corridor. The purpose of the barriers are to restrict cars from entering the future “sbX Only” lane. Thank you to all who provided input regarding the safety barriers. In particular, there were a number of accessibility concerns regarding the barrier at MacKay Street on the south end of E Street.

As a result of feedback, drivers trying to access MacKay Street from the southbound direction on E Street can now make a protected u-turn from a newly installed turn pocket at the t-intersection of E Street and Fairway Drive. This change enables motorists to make a u-turn safely and access MacKay Street heading northbound on E Street.

Have thoughts about the project? Contact us any time, toll free, at (855) SBX-NEWS (729-6397).

–  Kelly Koehler
    (kkoehler@westboundcommunications.com)

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Omnitrans VMF construction continues

VMF work continues at Omnitrans’ West 5th Street facility

Work is continuing on the Omnitrans vehicle maintenance facility (VMF) at Fifth Street and Medical Center in San Bernardino to make the modifications and upgrades necessary to accommodate the agency’s fourteen  60-foot articulated sbX vehicles.  

The bus yard parking area was restriped earlier this year

Earlier this year, the parking area of the bus yard was re-striped and equipped with new light fixtures. The electricals are still pending. Trash compactors to reduce the frequency of trash collection have been installed but are not yet operational. A new bus wash and modification of maintenance bays are still pending.

Demolition of the old fuel island

This month the old fuel island was demolished and the transition was made to a new temporary fueling station on the east side of the lot.

New lights have been installed and the temporary fueling station is now operational.

Underground diesel fuel storage tanks that are no longer used have been safely removed by construction crews. The next task will be the demolition of the old bus wash. All work on the VMF project will be completed by mid-2014.

Underground diesel storage tank removal

For more photos of our VMF construction project click here.