Ahead of their Wednesday deadline for a short-range transit plan draft expected by the Riverside County Transportation Commission, Beaumont’s Community Services Director Elizabeth Gibbs gave a presentation on her department’s transit efforts to the city council at its April 20 meeting.
Her data incorporated statistics through the end of March, or the first three quarters of this fiscal year, and outlined what is in line for its $2.8 million operating budget and planned expenses.
Gibbs noted that route ridership was down: fixed route boardings have declined roughly 75 percent from this period in 2020, and 88 percent from the previous year pre-COVID, according to Gibbs.
In 2018-19, ridership was 204,274; in 2019-20, ridership was 106,743; and estimates for this year that ridership will be projected at 34,849 by year-end.
Beaumont Transit projects ridership in 2021-22 to hit 84,316, and will offer free fares to riders between July 1 and Dec. 31 of this year.
Eighty-one percent of the department’s costs are in human resources; 8 percent is budgeted for fuel; maintenance, utilities and contract services make up the rest.
Among the capital improvements the transit department will make this year include the purchase of two 30-passenger, 32-foot EZ Rider II CNG buses to replace aging existing ones, and will use grant funds to purchase two new electric vehicle shuttles.
Buses take a year to be delivered from when they are ordered.
Beaumont Transit will also spend $110,000 for video camera purchases and installation on 18 of the fleet’s 22 buses (which will partially be paid for with grant funding), $14,000 in paratransit scheduling software, and $60,000 to purchase a lift, since the maintenance department currently does not have the capability to raise up 40-foot buses to conveniently conduct repairs.
As part of its short-range transit plan, Beaumont Transit was able to improve its on-time performance this past year.
A couple of routes used mainly by students attending Beaumont schools was put on suspension while schools took to virtual instruction during the pandemic.
As the department revamps its efficiency plans, it was recommended as part of a comprehensive analysis of operations to discontinue a route to Calimesa, which would affect “a handful or less of passengers,” according to Gibbs, as the majority of passengers picked up on that route do not come from Beaumont, but reside in Yucaipa and Calimesa.
Beaumont will instead use Commuter Link 125 to bypass Calimesa and offer riders a direct route to downtown Redlands, which can assist OmniTrans transfers and provide a short walk to the planned Metrolink train station being built there.
Long-range plans include analyzing a better means to serve the growing number of employees at the Amazon warehouse in Beaumont, currently serviced as part of its Route 4.
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