Needs, changes, future of public transit focus of Thursday meeting
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: February 15, 2013
Santa Paulans who rely on public transportation will want to attend a meeting next week, where they will be asked to fill in the gaps of needs and changes to Ventura County’s system.
The meeting, sponsored by the Ventura County Bus Riders Union (VCBRU) and others, will be held Thursday, February 21 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Community Room of Rodney Fernandez Gardens, 212 W. Santa Barbara Street. A similar meeting was held in recent months Fillmore that drew elected and transportation officials as well as those who rely on public transportation.
Ridership in the Santa Clara River Valley, especially Santa Paula, is the highest in Ventura County. Buses take residents along Highway 126 to various locations in Ventura, including connections to other public transport; while within city limits there is a separate Dial-A-Ride program.
According to a spokesman, the VCBRU was formed in 2011 to help give bus riders a voice in decision-making process when it comes to the transit system they depend on. Those using public transportation must be more involved in voicing their service needs as well as looking to the future and expansions of routes and schedules.
The discussion between riders and officials held in Fillmore was also hosted by One Step, Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE), and Ventura County bus riders coalitions ASERT. Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation is also a sponsor of the Santa Paula meeting.
Such a session is important, noted Cameron Yee, a CAUSE researcher, as even with future demand, “Riders and elected officials don’t share a common understanding of public transit needs and possible improvements that can be made” to increase ridership while improving overall service.
Officials with the Ventura County Transportation Commission are expected to attend and address the future of VISTA bus service and the Heritage Valley Transportation Plan, including a potential West County Transit District.
At the Fillmore meeting a representative of Gold Coast Transit spoke of its plans to become its own district so it can provide more services and make it competitive for state and local funds. Fillmore, Piru and Santa Paula would have the option of joining or contracting for service through Gold Coast.
Transportation issues became a top priority last summer when the operator of the VISTA 126 line, Coach America, announced that due to its bankruptcy the company would no longer be serving the route.