SAN BERNARDINO, CA- Touted as a tangible sign of transformation for both public transit and downtown, the San Bernardino Transit Center completion ceremony on August 24 featured the symbolic release of 200 butterflies. The Omnitrans multimodal hub, which opens to the public on September 8, is expected to serve 6,000 customers daily.
The $25 million facility connects 10 local and two freeway express Omnitrans bus routes, the sbX bus rapid transit line, and bus routes operated by neighboring Victor Valley Transit Authority and Mountain Transit. In 2017 Metrolink commuter rail service will be extended to the new transit center, with Redlands Passenger Rail service expected to arrive a few years later.
“Improving our public transit network is an important part of growing the Inland Empire economy. The San Bernardino Transit Center is a perfect example of the type of results we can achieve when communities work together to move our region forward,” said Representative Pete Aguilar. The U. S. Congressman pledged his support for a long-term surface transportation bill to increase funding levels for public transportation and highways, saying, “We need to stop kicking the can down the road.”
The existing MAP-21 surface transportation bill, which has been extended numerous times, is set to expire at the end of October. The Senate already has advanced a six-year authorization bill that increases investment in public transportation. The House of Representatives will take up the issue this fall. Fran Inman of the California Transportation Commission suggested going for a longer term bill. “Instead of six years, why not ten?” she said.
Located at the southwest corner of Rialto Avenue and E Street, the four acre site includes 22 bus bays and a 7,500 square foot building. Passengers will appreciate the enclosed climate-controlled lobby, interior and exterior seating, public restrooms, drinking fountains, bike racks, real time bus arrival signs, a customer service desk, ticket vending machine, and 24/7 on-site security. Two acres on the corner are available for future transit oriented development.
“We are proud that this facility was designed to meet LEED Gold standards,” said Sam Spagnolo, Omnitrans Board Chair and Mayor Pro Tem of Rancho Cucamonga. “This means it boasts the latest and greatest in energy efficiency design and systems. There are solar panels on the roof. Of course, all of the landscaping is drought tolerant.”
Public art elements at the center include a transportation-themed mural banner, “Exploration” by local artist Louie Solano, on the north side of the building. The bus turnaround features a 50-foot high, weathered steel plate sundial. Lobby walls are decorated with a mural featuring historic transit photos. A century ago, the same location was home to a car barn and tracks for the San Bernardino Valley Traction Company and Pacific Electric interurban rail services.
Project funding was provided by the Federal Transit Administration, Federal Highway Administration and the state of California through State Transit Assistance funds, Local Transportation Funds, and Proposition 1B funds. Omnitrans is the owner and operator of the San Bernardino Transit Center.
Federal Transportation Administration Regional Administrator Leslie Rogers applauded the “transformative potential” of the center and commended Omnitrans and San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) for their “perseverance in overcoming the challenges and hurdles” to take project from vision to reality. Omnitrans identified the property as an ideal location for a multimodal transit hub in the early 2000’s, but it was not until 2008 that the property was acquired from Union Pacific Railway Company. Construction of the center finally began in February 2014.
San Bernardino Mayor and Omnitrans Board Member R. Carey Davis lauded the transit center’s economic benefits as it relates to redevelopment of downtown and gave credit to former mayor, Pat Morris for pushing for the transit center project forward. SANBAG President and Victorville Councilmember Ryan McEachron said, “This multimodal approach to transportation, centered here in the hub of the county, is just the beginning of what is the future of transportation. At SANBAG we are proud of this investment.”
SANBAG, the council of governments and transportation planning agency for San Bernardino County, managed design and construction. HDR, Inc. is credited with facility design, Parsons Brinckerhoff handled construction management, and Kemp Bros Construction served as general contractor.