Reduced ridership and budget reductions led SunLine Transit Agency to implement several route changes that went into effect this week.
Beginning Sunday, the agency adjusted routes to bolster service in areas with higher demand, changes SunLine says were instituted in the wake of rider and transit funding declines in California and the nation at large.
Those changes include increasing the frequency of buses along the popular Line 111 from Coachella to Palm Springs. Buses along that route will increase in frequency from every 40 minutes to every half-hour before 6 a.m. and every 20 minutes after 6 a.m.
Line 53 resources have been re-allocated to the new Line 21 in Palm Desert. SunLine says the new line “will provide residents and students improved access to Cal State San Bernardino, UC Riverside and health resources along Cook Street.”
Lines 90 and 91 in the eastern Coachella Valley have been adjusted to reduce travel time and establish a direct connection from Fifth Street and Vine Avenue in Coachella to Line 111.
The agency recently began studying ways to offer its services more efficiently, adjusting routes in a way that cuts costs and preserves jobs with the least impact to riders, according to SunLine.
SunLine must look at underperforming fixed route service for budget relief as well as reinvestment into higher performing corridors to better serve the needs of our customers,” said Lauren Skiver, SunLine CEO and general manager. “Our team is working hard to absorb our budget shortfalls by making changes with a scalpel approach versus a hatchet approach. Focusing on transit lines that have high demand — and planning for new, efficient services in the future — is the path to a sustainable transit system.”
The agency cites more licensed drivers, lower fuel costs, on-demand ride-sharing services and “emerging destinations not yet served by SunBus” as factors contributing to declining ridership.
SunLine said part of its cost-saving measures will include further adjustments for lines that receive the most riders, while “developing sustainable solutions to serve areas with fewer riders.”
For more information on specific route and schedule changes, visit www.SunLine.org.