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On April 30, 2021, SRTA applied for operating assistance funds through the FTA Section 5311(f) Intercity Bus Program to support three “missing connections” that will be served by Salmon Runner bus service, expected to launch in Fall 2021. The Salmon Runner forms the backbone of the North State Intercity Bus System which has been identified in the 2018 California State Rail Plan, including the 2040 Integrated Network, the California Transportation Plan 2040, and the California Statewide Rural Intercity Bus Study Update.
The North State Intercity Bus System currently consists of existing feeder services to the I-5 corridor, including Burney Express (that runs between Burney and Redding), TRAX (which serves Tehama County at stops in Red Bluff, Corning, etc., as well as Glenn County with a stop in Orland), and Glenn Ride (operating between Willows, Orland, and Chico). The current need is to fund service on the Interstate 5 corridor between Redding and Sacramento and allow for timed connections between existing feeder services at each stop. The three “missing connections” on I-5 that will be covered in Phase 1 of Salmon Runner service include:
Implementation of the three “missing connections” projects proposed for funding in SRTA's 5311(f) application will finally connect the largely rural, non-urbanized North State region to the larger regional and national system of existing intercity public transit services, the state rail network, and more. Funding of the “missing connections” will bridge these gaps with an intercity public transportation system serving the I-5 corridor between Redding and Sacramento, supplemented by feeder bus connections serving Tehama County, Glenn County, rural Shasta County (on the Shasta County Department of Public Works Burney Express and SRTA’s ShastaConnect microtransit service), among numerous others. By implementing Salmon Runner service that covers these “missing connections” it will facilitate connections between existing traditional local public transportation routes from predominantly rural Northern California counties to the regional and national system of intercity bus service in Greater Sacramento, as well as improve access to Redding for communities along the I-5 corridor that would benefit from the resources and amenities available in Redding. In the post COVID-19 environment during which transit ridership reduced significantly nationwide, sustained funding for each of the three portions of the route is necessary for the Salmon Runner to successfully run the service by serving as many passengers as possible. This includes both north and southbound travel between both rural and urban areas. There is a well documented need to provide better intercity public transit service along the I-5 corridor, in both directions, and this grant application would establish a sustainable funding source for these operations.
The Salmon Runner project will help many people in our community find convenient and affordable intercity transportation options to access jobs, education, doctor’s appointments, state and national parks, multimodal travel hubs, and more. The daily roundtrip Salmon Runner service along Interstate 5 will serve riders’ needs by allowing them to make transfers from local transit services and piece together intercity transportation between some of the most remote parts of California and the large metropolitan areas like Sacramento and beyond.
SRTA's application received letters of support from a number of partner agencies across Northern California including: the North State Super Region, San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA), Tehama County Transportation Commission (Tehama Rural Area eXpress/TRAX), Glenn County Transportation Commission (Glenn Ride), Trinity County Transportation Commission (Trinity Transit), Modoc County Transportation Commission (Modoc Transportation Agency/Sage Stage).
The results of the application are expected to be announced in June 2021. For more information about the FTA Section 5311(f) Intercity Bus Program, visit the Caltrans website here.