So What Are We Really Getting Here?

The new Regional Intermodal Transportation Center at Burbank Airport.

The new Regional Intermodal Transportation Center at Burbank Airport.

I’d heard that the Burbank Airport’s new Regional Intermodal Transportation Center opened some weeks ago, and I’d been meaning to check it out. This morning I went over and took a few photos. It looks nice, but at this point I’m not sure if it’s bringing any huge benefits.

I understand that it’s a work in progress, and I hope the completed project lives up to the PR, but right now it seems like what they’ve got is a massive new parking structure that houses a bunch of rental car companies. The MTA web site says….

“[The RITC] establishes the first direct rail-to-terminal connection at any Southern California airport.”

Actually, the airport was built adjacent to the rail line, which has been there since before WWII, and access to the Metrolink/Amtrak stop is no easier than it was before. Even the proposed bridge to the tracks isn’t going to make a huge difference. At some point the RITC is supposed to house a bus terminal, and that could be useful. Bicycle storage facilities are included in the project, but I’m not sure how many people are going to ride a bike to or from the airport.

Metrolink/Amtrak stop near Burbank Airport.

Metrolink/Amtrak stop near Burbank Airport.

Below is a link to an article on Curbed. It’s a brief piece that just gives the basic facts about the RITC, but the comments are interesting.

New Transit Center at Bob Hope Airport

Some commenters point out that there would be real benefits in extending the Orange Line to Burbank Airport, and I agree completely. There is a shuttle from the transit center in North Hollywood to the airport, but light rail would be so much easier. I think, though, that plan was proposed years ago, and the MTA couldn’t sell it to the community. If I remember correctly, the Orange Line was originally supposed to be a light rail line that ran from Burbank Airport to Warner Center. As I recall, people in Burbank didn’t like the idea, and residents along the Chandler corridor were up in arms about trains running through their neighborhood. Cost was also a factor. So the MTA settled for what they could get, which was an express bus line from North Hollywood to the West Valley.

At Hertz, you're not just renting a car, you're renting a fantasy.

At Hertz, you’re not just renting a car, you’re renting a fantasy.

I don’t mean to dismiss the RITC, because in time it could become a useful transit nexus. But at this point it seems to be more about hype than about real benefit to the community.

From the RITC, a view of the mountains to the north.

From the RITC, a view of the mountains to the north.

2 thoughts on “So What Are We Really Getting Here?

  1. Yes, you are spot-on in your assessment of this. It’s still easier to walk from the Burbank/Bob Hope Airport Metrolink Station along the same friggin’ sidewalk that’s been there for decades than it is to use this fancy new RITC. The new facility is basically just a way to consolidate the rental car companies and bring their facilities right onto the airport property. There’s nothing wrong with doing that- but just don’t call it “Intermodal.” Cuz that’s not what it is. It’s a car rental and parking facility. So be it.

    • The only thing I can think of is that they wanted to sell it as a transit project in order to justify financing it with bonds. They probably would have had a harder time making the case for the bond issue if they said it was to build a new base for car rental companies.

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