A new chapter in the growth of Turlock was launched Friday with the official opening of the Regional Transit Center, a first for the town and second in the county.
“It’s really a historic day for Turlock, founded over 100 years ago as a railroad town to opening its first regional mass transit hub,” said Turlock Mayor John Lazar at a public grand opening ceremony held Friday morning.
The new transit hub, located in the triangle of land bordered by Del’s Lane, Golden State Boulevard and Hawkeye Avenue and funded entirely by federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus funds and state Prop 1B transportation funds, features six bus shelters, a bicycle rack, small parking area, landscaping, and lighting.
The new hub hosts busses from the Bus Line Service of Turlock and Stanislaus County’s Stanislaus Regional Transit, with Merced County’s The Bus soon to be added. The single transfer point will allow riders to travel across the two counties easily – and safely – moving from one bus to another.
Speakers at Friday’s grand opening ceremony touted the benefits of public transportation, and spoke of future possibilities for the transit center.
“From big cities to small towns and everything in between, public transportation is a vital resource to Americans and an engine for the local economy,” Lazar said.
Lazar went on to cite an American Transit Association statistic that every $1 invested in public transportation generates approximately $4 in economic returns.
Stanislaus County Supervisor Vito Chiesa lauded the environmental benefits of investing in the transit center; “taking the bus one time is one vehicle trip off the road.”
City of Turlock Development Services Director Mike Pitcock said the currently vacant southwest end of the site could eventually house buildings for operations staff and private ventures or even a regional rail stop, which was a consideration when planners picked the location of the transit hub.
The final cost of the project — which began construction on July 28, 2011 — was $1.65 million, according to Pitcock.
The transit hub was positioned downtown on Golden State Boulevard between Olive Avenue and Crane Avenue prior to 2007, when the City Council made a policy decision to move the transfer station to its current location.
The new transit center is expected to start operations on Wednesday.