Thousand Palms, Calif.’s SunLine Transit Agency is moving forward with its SunLine Refueled initiative — a multi-tiered initiative outlining new services and restructuring all bus routes to fundamentally reinvent, reimagine, and improve SunLine’s transit system.
The plan introduces three new services: a commuter service — the 10 Commuter Link; microtransit known as SunRide; and Route 1X the first east-to-west express line. In addition, SunLine will be consolidating the existing 15 local routes into nine streamlined routes. SunLine Refueled supports the local economy, better meets the transportation needs of the Coachella Valley, will attract new riders, and aids in the recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
SunLine Refueled has been in the works for over three years, but with the onset of COVID-19, it had to be adapted to address new challenges. With a phased implementation, under this new plan, beginning on Jan. 2021 — SunLine will be transitioning back to regular weekday and weekend service at pre-COVID-19 levels of service.
Prior to COVID-19, SunLine experienced an increase in ridership — contrary to the national trend of falling bus ridership. However, with the pandemic came a nearly 67% decrease in daily ridership. SunLine Refueled is an intentional move to better serve existing riders, extend market share, and directly respond to rider survey results which indicated that 71% of participants rank “faster, more direct bus service” as the top priority.
SunLine Refueled is also a response to the fact that the agency’s bus fleet was a mobility lifeline to many essential workers during shelter-at-home orders. It remains essential for members of the community who may also have limited transportation options.
“This is the largest service overhaul in SunLine’s 42 years. This much-needed reimagination of what SunLine looks like will create new connections and opportunities for the countless essential workers and residents of the Coachella Valley who showed us over these last nine months that high quality transit service is vital for a functioning economy and a healthy region,” said Lauren Skiver, CEO/GM.
SunLine looks forward to implementing these new initiatives and better serving the community while upholding the health, safety, and satisfaction of riders.