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Marsha McLean: Enhancing public transportation offerings

Posted: October 20, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 20, 2012 2:00 a.m.
 

Prices for a regular tank of gasoline might be inching down this week, but they are still 88 cents higher than this time last year, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.

While gas prices continue to set record-breaking high prices, Santa Clarita is investing in transit projects that can help community members save a significant amount of money by using public transportation.

Now, more than ever, is an exciting time to be a public transportation user. According to the American Public Transportation Association’s September Transit Savings Report, individuals who ride public transportation instead of driving can save, on average, $826 a month and $9,917 annually.

Here are some updates on transit expansion efforts that are currently under way.

Expansion of Park-and-Ride lots and new bike lanes

In Santa Clarita, more than half of the city’s residents commute daily to neighboring areas for work. To help commuters with the growing transit needs of our community, the city of Santa Clarita has planned a new 4.9-acre park-and-ride facility at the McBean Transfer Station, which will serve local and commuter transit passengers as well as potential rideshare passengers.

The $4.7 million project will increase access to local and regional transit routes, address parking capacity issues at existing park-and-ride areas, reduce traffic and improve air quality.

The new transit facility will include more than 280 new parking spaces, a covered five-bus bay, enhanced landscape beautification, a monument wall, public art exhibits, low-impact site lighting using L.E.D. technology, a security system and sustainable design elements.

The city will begin the construction phase of the project in early 2013.

Federal and local funding partners for the project include the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program from the Federal Transit Administration and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Addition of new buses and technology

The city’s Santa Clarita Transit wants to make using the bus even easier for the more than 3.7 million annual riders, so it’s adding new buses and technology services.

This year, the city is purchasing 10 new compressed natural gas-powered transit buses, which are scheduled to arrive in spring 2013, to replace remaining diesel-powered vehicles.

Santa Clarita Transit has also made it easier to provide reliable service by keeping riders informed through its Transit Information Network. Now, riders can receive up-to-the-minute information on the current location of a bus via the Web, cellphone and more.

Upcoming expansion efforts for the city’s transit technology services include: a complete rollout of QR codes, which provide customers with real-time bus arrival information at every bus stop; installation of more LED signs throughout the Santa Clarita Valley; and expansion of the Transit Access Pass program to our Dial-A-Ride system for rider convenience.

Updates to regional transit development plan

Santa Clarita Transit is also in the process of updating its Transit Development Plan, which will serve as a road map for transportation offerings in the Santa Clarita Valley over the next 10 years.

The existing plan was established in 2006 and, due to various economic changes, no longer accurately depicts the area’s needs and future growth and development.

Updating the Transit Development Plan will not only provide for appropriate representation, but will forecast future demand for transit services in the Santa Clarita Valley based on current and anticipated demographic, development and economic growth.

The revised plan will include evaluating transit needs in Canyon Country, Newhall, Saugus, and Valencia, as well as developing, unincorporated areas such as Sunset Pointe, Southern Oaks, Stevenson Ranch, Westridge, Newhall Ranch, Val Verde, Castaic and Tesoro Del Valle.

If you’ve never used mass transit, I encourage you to give it a try. Try swapping your daily car trip and travel around town using Santa Clarita Transit or other local transportation agencies.

I use Metrolink and our buses on a regular basis. It saves gas as well as wear and tear on my car and my nerves.

For more information about Santa Clarita Transit, contact 661-294-1287 or visit SantaClaritaTransit.com.

Marsha McLean is a Santa Clarita City Council member and can be reached at mmclean@santa-clarita.com

 

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