Omnitrans and the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA) have been awarded $86.8 million from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for the West Valley Connector bus rapid transit (BRT) project. The funding is provided through FTA’s Capital Investment Grants Program.
The 19-mile West Valley Connector will be San Bernardino County’s second rapid bus line. It will feature 40-foot zero-emission buses and 21 new commuter stations, connecting key locations across western San Bernardino County as part of Omnitrans’ sbX BRT service. SBCTA calls the BRT line a critical piece in the county’s “emergence as a modern, sustainable transit hub.”
The West Valley Connector is estimated to serve more than 1.3 million riders a year by 2040. The line will include center-running dedicated bus lanes, transit signal priority and queue jumps, allowing buses to avoid congestion along the county’s most heavily traveled bus corridor.
“We’re so grateful to FTA, the [U.S.] Department of Transportation (USDOT) and U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for their ongoing support of the West Valley Connector and the work we’re doing to build one of the most modern, efficient and innovative transit corridors in the United States,” said Art Bishop, president of the SBCTA Board of Directors.
Omnitrans Board of Directors Chair John Dutrey noted that without support from FTA and USDOT, building projects such as the West Valley Connector would not be possible.
"Good public transit means easier and more affordable commutes, reduced pollution and better options," Buttigieg said. "We're proud to help San Bernardino deliver its first zero-emissions bus route, connecting more people to jobs, health care and other vital resources."
With federal funding secured for the $310.5-million project, construction is expected to start later this year on Phase One, which will include an upgrade of a portion of existing Route 61 and adding the 3.5 miles of center-running bus-only lanes. The line is expected to begin service in the summer of 2025.
FTA Regional Administrator Ray Tellis joined SBCTA and Omnitrans at an event on March 20 to celebrate the grant award. However, FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez offered a statement recognizing the impact of the project on the community.
"Thanks to the West Valley Connector, people who live and work in San Bernadino County will have a faster, more affordable travel option to get to jobs, schools, and visit friends and family," Fernandez said.