Tuesday, August 11, 2015

New auto plant in Moreno Valley grows the case for reverse commute and Coachella Valley service

With the announcement that Fisker Automotive will be building a factory for a new line of electric vehicles in Moreno Valley, it's time to acknowledge that the Inland Empire is becoming a worthy urban area in its own right rather than merely a suburban home for workers in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.

This is hardly an unexpected development of course: It's not merely residential land prices that have been rising in the more coastal areas of Southern California, but industrial and commercial as well. Meanwhile, commutes on the 91 best described as a hellish abomination, dropping to an average speed of 14-22 mph. It's only natural then, that, that companies are increasingly taking advantage of the lower land prices and and lower wages that need to be paid to employees (on account of the lowered housing prices) and turning the Inland Empire into a jobs center.

As the Inland Empire becomes more and more important, it behooves California, Riverside County, and LOSSAN to recognize this with appropriate rail services. Frequencies upon the Riverside and 91 Lines need to be both increased and have reverse commute service added and added urgency should be given to make the Coachella Valley service, which has been languishing in study hell for the past 30 years, an actual reality. This particular plant isn't a justification in and of itself for such service: It's not ideally located for train service, either commuter or intercity, and I don't expect Fisker to become a major player. It is, however, an important symbol of the increasing importance of the Inland Empire which deserves such service.

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