Riverside Transit Authority presents latest Hemet Mobility Hub concept to city council

Agustin E. Chang, vice president of Psomas consulting, shows an artist rendering of what a planned Riverside Transit Authority Mobility Plan along Devonshire Avenue in downtown Hemet will look like when built. The hub will provide pickup and drop off points for travelers seeking different modes of transportation from buses, cars and trains.

The Hemet City Council received a glimpse of the Riverside Transit Authority’s latest plans to create a Mobility Hub Site in the downtown area in the future at its Sept. 26 workshop and study session in the city chambers.

The RTA Mobility Hub in Hemet has been in the planning stages since 2012 with a $5 million grant used to procure property in the downtown area and planning for the transportation hub. The mobility hub according to RTA planners will provide residents with multiple ways to reach their travel destinations whether local, regional or state.

It is a place where all modes of transportation, technology and transit supportive land uses come together to meet community transportation needs, as lead consultant Agustin E. Chang, vice president of Psomas, and Larry Rubio, CEO of RTA, explained to the council.

Much of the land needed to establish a series of kiosks, shelters and pickup points for the proposed transportation hub along RTA’s purchased railroad tracks between north and south State Street and Buena Vista Street and the east and west Oakland and Devonshire avenues have been procured, the consultants said.

The proposed hub would provide pickup points for ridesharing, ridehailing, Transportation Network Companies and car-share services to residents.

Rubio said that the hub zone would provide Wi-Fi services and charging stations and accommodate current modes of transportation such as buses, cars, vans and bicycles and new and emerging transit vehicles. He said the future means of transportation may include more bicycles, electric bicycles, more electric cars or driverless buses all equipped with the latest technology.

The railroad tracks could reopen with modern street cars and trams that could take riders to major transportation destinations like airports and Amtrak stations. He said there could be driverless cars and buses that would pick up passengers at their homes and take them to the hub.

In a video presentation, the consultants showed how the use of public transportation in the RTA area has increased from 7,934,079 riders in 2010 to 9,651,763 in 2015 and is still rising. The Hemet Transportation Hub was conceived 2012 and has seen the greatest increase in riders from area colleges and universities.

Since 2012, the RTA has held public meetings and hearings with Hemet city officials and residents, and with the information provided in those meeting, they have wanted the proposed Hemet Mobility Hub to bring more opportunities and entrepreneurs to the community, to preserve the heritage of the Hemet-San Jacinto Valley, to bring more mom and pop stores and other small businesses into the area, to keep businesses in Hemet and to improve the quality of life.

Rubio said the Perris Mobility Hub is now operating and has answered all of those hopes. Since it was completed, it has brought about a complete downtown facade renovation and ha allowed families to once again play and enjoy the downtown area safely.

Several of the Hemet councilmembers who visited the Perris Mobility Hub praised the result of the RTA plan and the modern hotels and senior living centers it has brought to the city. The cities of Yucaipa, San Bernardino and Chino with their mobility hubs have benefited as well, the consultants said.

There were four options for the mobility hub location initially. A survey found that 83 percent preferred that the hub run along Devonshire Avenue. A colorful rendering of the proposed Hemet hub along Devonshire Avenue to the south showed rows of plum trees with easy access to entrances and exits from different covered shelters, easy-to-read signs and a central walkway and plenty of parking.

The greatest concern the council had about the plan was over security and who would assume the responsibility for the hub. The RTA spokesperson said the RTA would work closely with the city in regard to safety concerns, security cameras and private security measures.

The council gave the RTA approval to take the next step in establishing the hub.

The next steps in the process, according to the RTA consultants, will be to bring the latest project briefing to the RTA board, to project delivery strategy, final concept plan and agreement between the city and RTA, to present the final concept plan to the Hemet City Council and to provide the final conceptual plan to the RTA board. Next, Phase 2 will begin, including architectural and engineering, environmental clearance and final design and construction procurement, followed by construction proceedings.

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