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Majestic Realty Hosts Inland Empire Transit and College Leaders to Promote Free Bus Program for Local Colleges.

Officials Hope to Replicate Rio Hondo College Program in Effort to Ease Gridlock, Reduce Pollution, Increase Access to Education

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. -- Hoping to help replicate and expand a student free bus pass program at Inland Empire colleges and universities, Majestic Realty Co. hosted a recent luncheon for local transit and campus officials to hear about the success of "Go Rio" at Rio Hondo College in Whittier.

Universally lauded by students, campus officials and transportation leaders, Go Rio is an innovative program that provides free bus passes to all full time Rio Hondo College students on Metro, Foothill Transit and Norwalk Transit buses.

At the Feb. 20 luncheon, Frank Hall, Board Chairman of the Riverside Transit Agency and Mayor Pro-Tem of Norco, said offering free bus passes to students could be beneficial.

"It really is a wonderful idea," Hall said. "Free student bus passes have the potential to help schools attract students, while also reducing air pollution and traffic congestion. And in Rio Hondo's case, it also encouraged students to attend college full-time in order to take advantage of the program."

Since Go Rio's launch in Sept. 2006, the program has drawn praise from all sectors, in large part because of its low cost and tremendous benefits. John Fasana, Metro board member and member of the Duarte City Council recently said, "GoRio is a wonderful example of how a partnership between educational institutions and local transit agencies can benefit students, the environment and the community as a whole - via less crowded streets, improved parking and increased access to educational and workforce development opportunities."

Majestic Realty Co., a company noted for its leadership on matters related to transportation and improving gridlock, worked with Rio Hondo College in developing their program and hopes to find ways to expand similar programs throughout the region.

"Because of Go Rio's overwhelming success, and its ability to ease gridlock, reduce emissions, increase mass transit use by students and improve access to education, we hope other colleges will replicate it throughout the Southland," said Fran Inman, senior vice president, Majestic Realty Co. "This is a wonderful example of a low-cost program that reaps tremendous benefits for the community college, for the local community, for the environment, but most of all for the students who have increased access to education." Inman serves on many local, state and national committees and commissions charged with improving funding for transportation infrastructure and finding solutions to the transportation crisis.

At the luncheon, speakers outlined how Rio Hondo College partnered with community members, students, elected officials and regional transit agencies to make the Go Rio program a reality.

"We thank Majestic Realty for its leadership on these issues and for bringing together this group of college and transit leaders in the hope of bringing free bus pass programs to campuses throughout the Southland," stated Dr. Andy Howard, executive director, Rio Hondo College Foundation.

Following the event, David Sutton, director of commute services for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), commended Majestic for its leadership role "in bringing together the colleges and transit agencies so they can find solutions to traffic congestion problems."

"We can no longer afford to build our way out of traffic jams," Sutton said. "Fortunately, there are some things we can do right now to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality. Go Rio is one example of a really innovative transit pass program. There are similar business models for employees, too, which have been very successful. These programs are effective in reducing parking needs and improving traffic flow, while having the added benefit of improving morale, increasing productivity and improving recruitment and retention efforts."

Among those attending the luncheon at the Hilton San Bernardino were representatives of San Bernardino Valley College, Riverside Community College, College of the Desert, Mt. San Jacinto College, CSU San Bernardino, Crafton Hills College, Loma Linda University, Foothill Transit, Omnitrans, Riverside Transit Agency, Metro, Sunline Transit Agency, and the City of Corona.

Go Rio was developed in partnership with Rio Hondo College, Metro, Foothill transit and Norwalk Transit, Howard explained. Planners recognized the need to expand access to college by lowering transportation costs for students. Goals also included improving parking on campus and reducing the environmental impact of traffic to campus.

"From the outset, the program was designed to be convenient for students, with improved schedules and a centralized bus stop on campus," Howard said. "Since its inception, the free bus pass program has helped increase bus ridership on the Rio Hondo College campus from 400 students to more than 1,100 students."

Founded in 1948, Majestic Realty Co. is one of the nation's oldest and largest privately held real estate firms, with an office, retail and industrial portfolio totaling more than 73 million square feet. The southern California-based company is a diversified real estate developer specializing in the planning and development of premier master planned business parks and retail centers.

Headquartered in City of Industry, Majestic Realty also has offices in Atlanta, Dallas, Denver and Las Vegas. For information or leasing opportunities, visit www.majesticrealty.com.
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Date:Mar 1, 2007
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