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Transit stop at I-15/SR76 considered for tribal transport


Last updated 8/14/2008 at Noon

A Federal grant to a local tribal consortium will provide for expansion of the North County Transit District’s Route 388 line, which currently serves several Indian reservations.

Whether that expansion includes a stop at the park-and-ride near the intersection of Interstate 15 and State Route 76 is yet to be determined.

“We’ve just got to meet with North County Transit District and see what we can work out,” said Boxie Phoenix, a Barona Indian Reservation tribal elder who is the co-chair of the Tribal Transportation Working Group.

The Reservation Transportation Authority (RTA) includes 20 member tribes in San Diego and Riverside counties.

During Fiscal Year 2006-07 a Tribal Transit Feasibility Study planning grant sponsored by the California Department of Transportation was awarded to the San Diego Association of Governments with the Interagency Technical Working Group on Tribal Transportation Issues serving as the project advisory group.

The working group recommended that the RTA act as the fiscal agent for the project and apply for a Federal grant under the Tribal Transit program.

In August 2007 the RTA applied for a $928,000 Tribal Transit grant.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) made $10 million available for new transit services, enhancement or expansion of existing services, and planning studies. The Notice of Funding Availability produced 75 applicants seeking a total of $21 million.

In March 2008 the FTA announced the awards to 65 tribes and consortiums. The RTA was awarded $425,104, which was the largest single award but less than half of what had been requested.

The existing Route 388 line runs from the Escondido Transit Center to the Pala Indian Reservation through Valley Center.

The line runs through or near the San Pasqual, Rincon, and Pauma and Yuima reservations as well as Pala, and although it does not serve the La Jolla Indian Reservation that reservation is adjacent on the east to the Rincon reservation.

The expansion will make the route into a loop, providing quicker service from Pala to Escondido. The routing of the new segment along I-15 would also result in express service between Pala and Escondido.

“This would complete the loop of the 388,” Phoenix said. “Now that we have the money we need to work together to see how we can best put this to work.”

In addition to expansion of the Route 388 line, the RTA grant application for $928,000 also called for service between the Pala reservation and the Indian Health Center on the Rincon reservation (the Pauma and Yuima reservation would also be served by that project), service between Ramona and the Santa Ysabel reservation’s Indian Health Center (which would also serve the Mesa Grande reservation), service from Ramona through the Barona reservation to connect with the Route 864 bus line which runs from the El Cajon Transit Center to the Viejas Indian Reservation, service from the Indian Health Center on the Viejas reservation to the Indian Health Center on the Campo reservation (which is adjacent to the La Posta and Manzanita reservations), and service from the Indian Health Center at Viejas to the El Cajon Transit Center through the Sycuan Indian Reservation.

The award of less than the requested amount forced the RTA to analyze options to re-scope the project. A June 18 recommendation of the working group was followed by a July 1 presentation to the Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association (SCTCA).

The SCTCA recommended focusing the funding on the express bus to the Escondido Transit Center, assessing the feasibility of a connector route between the Viejas tribal transit node and the tribes in the southern part of San Diego County, and refining the service operation plan.

The amount granted by the FTA will cover the cost of enhancing service for the Route 388 line.

The SCTCA also recommended that the RTA apply for 2008-09 Tribal Transit funding. The deadline to apply for the second year of the program’s funding is August 19.

The Tribal Transit grant allows a tribe or consortium to contract with existing transit operators, and the RTA has held several meetings with North County Transit District and Metropolitan Transit Service staff as part of the funding-related reassessment of the original plan.

Ridership on the lines funded by Tribal Transit money is not restricted to tribal members.

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