Free rides through January 7
There’s a new way to get around Hemet and San Jacinto. And it’s called GoMicro.
Riverside Transit Agency’s (RTA) new microtransit service, GoMicro, hit the streets this week in the Hemet-San Jacinto area on minibuses that operate every day, serving nearly 300 stops. The shared service, which is only available in the Hemet-San Jacinto area, allows customers to easily book their trips on a mobile device by using the GoMicro app.
To sweeten the deal, RTA is offering free rides to all customers through January 7.
RTA Board Chair Linda Molina said there’s a lot to like about GoMicro, including shorter travel times, more direct trips, and since there’s no set schedule, customers can book at their convenience. “This is a game-changer in the way we offer public transportation in Riverside County,” Molina said. “GoMicro has the potential to revolutionize the way we get around for years to come.”
Booking a trip is easy. Customers simply download the GoMicro app and book a ride either same day or up to a week in advance. After that, a GoMicro minibus will be dispatched to a nearby bus stop and the customer is off to their next destination. On-demand service means customers can access service when they need it, instead of having to plan their trip around a set schedule like a regular bus route.
GoMicro vehicles are ADA-friendly and seat up to 12 passengers. Plus, when the promotional period ends, GoMicro fares will be the same as those on other RTA local buses. Students who are part of the Go-Pass and U-Pass participating colleges ride for free.
GoMicro vehicles serve existing bus stops in the Hemet-San Jacinto microtransit zone, with popular destinations including the Hemet Valley Mall, Mt. San Jacinto College, Soboba Casino Resort, Hemet Global Medical Center, Walmart Supercenter, Hemet High School and San Jacinto High School.
The arrival of GoMicro means big changes in the Hemet-San Jacinto area. Currently, there are seven routes that operate within the area: routes 28, 31, 32, 33, 42, 74 and 79. Route 28 will remain the same while routes 32, 33 and 42 will be replaced by GoMicro in early January. Routes 31, 74 and 79 will be truncated at the edge of the zone at Mt. San Jacinto College and Hemet Valley Mall. A new Hemet circulator, Route 44, will operate between Mt. San Jacinto College and Hemet Valley Mall using State Street and San Jacinto and W. Oakland avenues.
RTA ambassadors are available at many popular stops to assist customers with the transition to the new service.
GoMicro operates weekdays 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and weekends 7 a.m. -7 p.m. Reservations can be made by downloading the GoMicro app from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, through the GoMicro webpage at book.gomicro.rideco.com or by calling our reservation center at (951) 633-2629. More details about GoMicro are available at RiversideTransit.com.
Riverside Transit Agency (RTA) Board members have unanimously selected Calimesa City Councilmember Linda Molina to lead the RTA Board of Directors for 2023.
As chair, Molina will be responsible for leading the Board in setting policy, guiding Agency priorities, conducting the Agency’s Board meetings and representing the Agency during public events. Molina, who has been on the Board since 2016 and served as first vice chair during 2022, fills the position most recently held by Temecula Mayor Zak Schwank.
“I am honored to be chosen to lead the RTA Board of Directors in 2023,” Molina said. “It’s going to be a great year. There’s a lot to be excited about and so many new reasons for people to ride the bus.”
Several reasons, indeed. RTA will enter the new year with several projects underway. Perhaps the most ambitious is the creation of GoMicro, a microtransit pilot program in the Hemet-San Jacinto area that allows customers to schedule a ride with their phones or online. RTA has also traded its older fareboxes for sleeker, modern ones that provide faster, smarter technology with a variety of payment options. The Agency is also introducing a new GoMobile transit app that allows customers to pay fares, sign up for service alerts, view maps and schedules and check the arrival time of their next bus. Looking ahead, RTA is focused on opening a new transit hub in Riverside in early 2023 across from the Riverside-Downtown Metrolink Station.
Molina said she remains focused on RTA’s efforts to provide world-class service for both local and regional travel.
“Of course, our priority will be rebuilding the ridership we lost during the pandemic by offering new incentives for our valued customers,” Molina said. “Whether it’s free rides for college students; discounted fares for seniors, youth, veterans and disabled customers; or all the new projects underway, RTA is pushing forward with boundless imagination and determination to keep our current customers satisfied and persuade a whole new generation of customers to put their trust in us.”
In addition to her responsibilities on the Board of Directors, Molina also serves on RTA’s Budget and Finance Committee and Executive Committee and is a longstanding member of the San Gorgonio Pass Area chapter of Transportation NOW, a grassroots group dedicated to promoting public transportation in the region.
Molina has lived in Calimesa since 2006 and she was first elected to the Calimesa City Council in 2016. She previously spent 18 years with the Housing Authority for the City of Los Angeles and served as president of Rosemead Elementary School District. She has served on the Calimesa Planning Commission, Mobile Home Rent Stabilization Board, Citizens on Patrol, Habitat for Humanity and the Boys and Girls Club. Molina currently represents the City of Calimesa on the Riverside County Transportation Commission and promotes transit as a member of the League of California Cities.
RTA Board members also voted Canyon Lake City Councilmember Jeremy Smith as first vice chair and Riverside City Councilmember Steve Hemenway as second vice chair.
The Riverside Transit Agency’s (RTA) move to zero-emission buses just took a big step. That’s because the U.S. Department of Transportation today awarded RTA a $5.1 million grant to buy five 40-foot hydrogen fuel cell electric buses, propelling the Agency’s ambitious goal of transitioning its directly operated fleet of compressed natural gas buses (CNG) to zero-emission vehicles.
The move to replace all 145 large buses is expected to happen in phases beginning in 2026. Smaller buses and trolleys, currently powered by CNG and unleaded gas, could also go zero emission.
News of the federal grant comes just a few weeks after RTA Chair and Temecula Mayor Pro Tem Zak Schwank, RTA Second Vice Chair and Canyon Lake Mayor Jeremy Smith and RTA Chief Executive Officer Kristin Warsinski visited Washington DC to advocate for more funding to support the Agency’s move to hydrogen fuel.
“RTA has always been a leader in eco-friendly transportation,” Schwank said. “Looking ahead, we are excited about continuing our tradition by making significant investments in zero-emission vehicles. The future is bright for RTA and federal funding coming our way will help us build a leaner, greener fleet.”
Smith said RTA is pleased to join transit agencies across America that are already developing and implementing projects to move to zero-emission buses.
“This funding will help our efforts to charge forward and make a real difference in the way public transportation is delivered in western Riverside County,” he said. “We are thrilled to receive this much-needed funding and appreciative of the support we’ve received on a national level.”
Of course, the federal funding headed RTA’s way is part of a larger picture. In all, $1.6 billion in federal grant money is headed to transit agencies, territories, and states across the country to invest in 150 bus fleets and facilities. Funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, more than 1,100 of those vehicles will use zero-emissions technology, which helps meet the president’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.
This year’s funding alone will nearly double the number of no-emission transit buses on America’s roadways. For the first time, five percent of low- and no-emission bus funding will be used to train transit workers — including those working at RTA — on how to maintain and operate new clean bus technology.
“With today’s awards, we’re helping communities across America — in cities, suburbs, and rural areas alike — purchase 1,800 new buses and most of them are zero-emission,” said US. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “This announcement means more good jobs for people across the country, cleaner air in our communities and more affordable and reliable options to help people get to where they need to go.”
This isn’t the first federal grant that RTA has received to build a more eco-friendly fleet. Just a few months ago, the Agency netted a $8.7 million grant to build the hydrogen fueling stations at its Riverside and Hemet facilities to power its future fleet.
As part of the announcement Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Transportation also awarded RTA a second grant worth $1.6 million for the purchase and installation of solar panels at its Riverside and Hemet facilities, a move that will go a long way in reducing electricity costs and promoting a more environmentally friendly workplace.
Longtime transit advocate Keith White was remembered during a ceremony Friday in Eastvale when several Riverside Transit Agency (RTA) officials dedicated a memorial plaque and bus stop in his honor.
Nearly 20 people attended the ceremony at the bus stop off Limonite Avenue, just east of Hamner Avenue to honor White, who passed away in October after he was hospitalized for a heart attack. One of the people attending was RTA Chairman of the Board Zak Schwank who said Keith was not just a customer; he was part of the RTA family.
“From Board members to coach operators, Keith seemed to know everyone’s name,” Schwank said. “He always seemed to have something positive to say about what we were doing both on and off the streets. Always a smiling face, always thoughtful, Keith was such a big part of RTA, and he will be missed.”
For more than 20 years, Keith was a mainstay at RTA Board meetings and a leading member of RTA’s Customer Advocacy Group. He was also a founding member of the Northwest Transportation NOW chapter, a public advocacy group that serves Corona, Eastvale, Jurupa Valley, Norco and Temescal Valley.
White had a driver’s license and access to a vehicle, but he chose to ride the bus instead. He seemed to gravitate to public transportation, not just the service, but the men and women who operated the buses and worked behind the scenes. Whether it was a trip to church, work or a KOLA 99.9 prize giveaway, Keith was proud to ride RTA buses — often several during the same day — to get where he needed to go.
The memorial was spearheaded by Corona City Councilmember Jim Steiner and Eastvale City Councilmember Jocelyn Yow, both of whom also sit on the RTA Board of Directors.
Steiner, who also attended the ceremony, said White’s interests weren’t limited to his home town of Eastvale. “He genuinely cared about transit service across Riverside County. And it showed in what he did,” Steiner said. “RTA salutes Keith for being a true friend of the Agency, his unwavering dedication, and determination to helping RTA be the best it can be.”
Yow said the Keith White Memorial Bus Stop will serve as a permanent reminder of his love for his community. “Keith was by far our most ardent supporter,” Yow said. “He was a dedicated champion for our causes both on the streets and inside our buses.”
WTS cites RTA’s mission of advancing women in the transit industry
The Riverside Transit Agency (RTA) has long been a champion of recruiting, retaining and advancing women in the transit industry. Now the Agency has a regional award to prove it.
The Inland Empire chapter of Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS), an international organization that promotes female leadership in the transportation industry, has recognized RTA with an Employer of the Year Award. The award goes to RTA for its focus on empowering and engaging women whether they are driving the buses or serving in executive roles.
“RTA has worked hard to create a workplace culture that celebrates diversity and provides opportunities for women to thrive in their careers,” said RTA Chief Executive Officer Larry Rubio. “I am so proud of the women in this industry who are doing extraordinary things and keeping this complex business of public transit moving.”
Over the past 10 years, RTA has more than quadrupled the number of women serving in executive positions with plenty more in management roles. In the past year alone, four women have been promoted to management or executive positions. None more significant than the recent advancement of Kristin Warsinski who was unanimously chosen by Board members this fall to be RTA’s next chief executive officer, filling a position held by Rubio who has had the title since 2001.
Women are certainly having a high impact at RTA. In fact, women either manage or direct operations, human resources, contract operations, finance, procurement and planning departments. Plus the number of female coach operators has grown from 43 percent a decade ago to nearly 50 percent today.
In 2019, RTA welcomed its first female maintenance supervisor and the number of female servicers who ensure buses are cleaned, fueled and ready for the day, has climbed from just one a decade ago to eight today, an increase of 700 percent. The Agency’s executive team, which is comprised of 11 members, has changed drastically over the years to include more women. Ten years ago, only one person in the group was female. Now five members, or 45 percent are female.
One of them is Chief Administrative Services Officer Laura Camacho, who has overseen RTA’s human resources department for the past 20 years. Camacho has also benefitted from RTA paying some of her bachelor’s and all of her master’s degree to help advance her career.
“RTA is thrilled to be part of an effort to build a gender diverse workforce where people feel valued,” Camacho said. “There’s no doubt that when we have women in the workforce serving in a variety of roles, we are putting ourselves in a position to provide a great experience for our diverse group of customers, empower and engage our workforce and be a sustainable business for the long haul.”
Female leadership isn’t limited to staff. RTA’s governing board, which is comprised of 22 elected officials from 18 cities and four members of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, has been female-led for four of the past five years. Current Chair Linda Krupa served in both 2017 and 2021 and previous Chair Bridgette Moore served from 2018 to 2020. Both women have helped the Agency safely steer through the financial challenges of the pandemic and introduce a variety of ambitious programs including mobile ticketing and free rides for youth and college students.
“This award is a testament to the work RTA does every day to provide a service that not only focuses on customer service, but also celebrates the people who are delivering the service,” Krupa said. “RTA wants to reflect the community it serves and that means committing to a more diverse and inclusive workplace.”
The award comes during a significant period for RTA which is working hard to rebound from the pandemic and give its customers more reasons to ride the bus. Over the next few years, RTA is expected to kick off a microtransit pilot program in the Hemet-San Jacinto area, create new transit centers in Riverside and Hemet, and welcome a new fleet of clean-air buses.
Jillian Guizado, who is the president of the local WTS chapter, said the award couldn’t have come at a better time. “RTA deserves a lot of credit for advancing women in the transportation industry,” Guizado said. “With their focus on equality, the recent appointment of a female CEO, and their ongoing commitment to community, RTA is certainly leading the charge in how business should be done.”