Rail access to Ontario International Airport (ONT) has long been a goal to increase public transit options to ONT and provide incoming ONT passengers more access to San Bernardino County and the greater Southern California region. The SBCTA Board of Directors believes the solution is to look underground. At their September 2nd meeting, the SBCTA Board approved a Memorandum of Understanding with ONT for the development of a tunnel connection between the Rancho Cucamonga Metrolink station and ONT.
This concludes a process that dates back to 2014 when SBCTA began the initial study to determine the most effective way to connect ONT with the adjacent rail corridors. At that time, ONT was under the control of Los Angeles World Airports, so any access to ONT had to be coordinated with that body. Local control of ONT was restored in 2016 and in 2019 San Bernardino County stakeholders began having discussions about the airport connection once again. In March of 2020, the SBCTA Board approved of new alternatives analysis (AA) that would examine three surface rail alignments and a subsurface alternative utilizing emerging technology such as The Boring Company’s (TBC) Loop.
Subsequent to the decision to move forward with the AA, SBCTA received an unsolicited proposal from TBC which outlined a subsurface tunnel connection from ONT to a location near the existing Rancho Cucamonga Metrolink station. The proposal’s estimated cost for construction of the tunnel and autonomous passenger vehicles was approximately $60 million. Given that preliminary estimates of the surface rail connections were between $1 – $1.5 billion, the SBCTA Board placed the AA on hold to examine the subsurface proposal more closely. SBCTA staff determined that the subsurface concept could provide the connection between ONT and the Metrolink San Bernardino Line in the most cost efficient manner.
The Board action at the meeting cancels the AA and approves the agreement between SBCTA and ONT to move forward with the subsurface tunnel concept. The Board also approved additional funding for the project, now totaling $17 million, to progress the project through the preliminary engineering and environmental approval process.