By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
Commuters who use the Rancho Bernardo Transit Station will need to add a few more minutes to accommodate walking time for the next six months.
The station’s northwest lot is being temporarily closed this week — and will remain closed for at least the next six months — as work begins on $768,000 in renovations, said Helen Gao, a SANDAG public information officer.
Because of a limited number of parking spaces in the southeast lot, during the renovation project riders can park their vehicles in the former Rodeway Inn parking lot with 24 spaces at 16911 W. Bernardo Drive. Officials said the lot is .3 miles north of the station, estimating it to be a 7-minute walk.
The RB project, along with $1.8 million in upgrades at the Del Lago transit station near Westfield North County mall, are part of a $246 million Interstate 15 Bus Rapid Transit project spanning Escondido to downtown San Diego. BRT service is supposed to begin in early 2014, which will greatly expand public transit options and use of Express Lanes. The lanes are dedicated for use by carpoolers, vanpoolers, buses and solo drivers who pay a fee for the convenience.
Unlike the existing Express Bus service, which only operates at morning and evening peak traffic times, BRT will operate throughout the day in a similar fashion to a light rail service, but without tracks. Officials said it will be the first of its kind in the county and operated by Metropolitan Transit System.
“With increased routes connecting residential areas with major employment centers, the services will run more often and offer increased reliability and customer convenience similar to rail services. In effect, the BRT will operate like a ‘train on wheels,’ which means limited stops and a separate right-of-way.”
Commuters can use BRT stations parking lots along with local Park & Ride lots when accessing the system.
The Rancho Bernardo and Del Lago station renovations will include adding bus bays, providing new shelters and adding new signage that indicates updated arrival times. Gao said the RB station would also have its existing landscaped median reconfigured so it can accommodate an eight-bay bus staging area. Features will include colored concrete paving, new landscaping and lighting.
By late this year renovations will also begin at the Sabre Springs/Penasquitos transit station. A parking garage will be constructed to accommodate 625 vehicles. The station will also receive the arrival bus time signs, enhanced bus staging areas, new shelters, electric vehicle charging stations and a modular bicycle parking facility. That project is estimated to take up to 18 months.
Gao said other aspects of the $246 million project include a downtown bus layover facility, a South Bay BRT maintenance facility, Mid-City BRT stations and vehicle purchases. It is being funded through the half-cent TransNet regional sales tax voters approved in 1988 and extended in 2004 so it could continue through 2048.
For more information, go to www.KeepSanDiegoMoving.com or call 858-668-3368. For trip planning assistance, call 511 or go to www.511sd.com.