The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is allocating $86.75 million in funding to the West Valley Connector, a 100 percent zero-emission Bus Rapid Transit system that will link Ontario International Airport (ONT), two Metrolink lines and multiple activity centers from Pomona to Rancho Cucamonga.
The funding ⎯ announced Monday, April 5, by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg ⎯ is through the FTA’s Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Small Starts program and will cover one-third of the connector’s estimated $262.67 million phase one capital cost.
The 19-mile Bus Rapid Transit system is a key element of an emerging state-of-the-art transit network between San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties. Other projects include the Redlands Passenger Rail/Arrow System, which eventually will feature the first zero-emission passenger train in North America; a proposed tunnel connecting Metrolink to ONT; and a proposed high-speed rail line from Las Vegas to the Rancho Cucamonga Metrolink station.
“We’re so grateful to Sen. Feinstein and Secretary Buttigieg, as well as Congressional Members Pete Aguilar (CA 31) and Norma Torres (CA 35), for their support in securing funding for the West Valley Connector. In addition to the ONT Loop, the Arrow line and the proposed Vegas rail project, the connector will play an important role in one of the most dynamic transit stories in the United States,” said Frank J. Navarro, president of the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA), which is overseeing development of the project.
“I’d like to thank Transportation Secretary Buttigieg and the FTA for this grant that will continue the much-needed process of improving transit options in San Bernardino,” Feinstein said in a released statement. “Providing fast, frequent bus service that connects the Ontario airport, key business hubs and communities throughout the region will improve quality of life and provide business growth and job creation opportunities throughout the region. These are zero-emission buses that operate these routes, so we’re not only moving people throughout the region quicker, we’re doing so in an environmentally conscious way. I hope to see more smart investments like this as we continue to improve and modernize our nation’s infrastructure under the Biden administration.”
Said David Avila, chairman of the Omnitrans Board of Directors: “We’re excited about expanding our network of Bus Rapid Transit options and look forward to operating this innovative service for the residents of San Bernardino County.”
The $86.75 million targeted to the West Valley Connector represents the largest award among four that were announced Monday for Bus Rapid Transit projects in California, Utah and Washington State.
The West Valley Connector will operate as part of Omnitrans’ sbX BRT service. The project includes the purchase of 40-foot zero-emission buses and construction of 21 new bus stations. Connections will include the Rancho Cucamonga station, part of Metrolink’s heavily-traveled San Bernardino Line, Metrolink’s Riverside Line in Downtown Pomona, along with major destinations such as ONT, the Ontario Convention Center, Ontario Mills and Victoria Gardens.
Phase one of the project will include an upgrade of a portion of existing Route 61, which runs along Holt Boulevard, adding approximately 3.5 miles of a center-running dedicated bus-only lanes.
Start of construction is anticipated in 2022.
For more on the West Valley Connector, visit gosbcta.com/project/west-valley-connector-brt/.