Many fixed and lower income citizens will no longer have the use of fixed bus routes in Bishop to go to the grocery, doctors’ office, bank and other services. Budget cuts at the Eastern Sierra Transit Authority will end fixed route bus service in the Bishop area September 10th. Transit officials hope other services will be able to pick up the slack, but riders will see an increase in fares.
At their most recent meeting, the Eastern Sierra Transit Authority Board approved a plan that eliminates bus service that people use to get around Bishop as of September 10, along with other cuts.
The Thursday fixed route between Benton and Bishop has already been cancelled but is set to continue to operate on Tuesday and Friday. Saturday service between Bishop and Lone Pine is cancelled as of August 30th, but will continue three round trips a day, Monday through Friday. The last day for the Saturday Mammoth Express is August 30th, and Dial-a-Ride in Walker is cancelled as of this Friday.
Batchelder explained that the fixed routes in the Bishop area had averaged four passengers per hour for the two vehicles. The goal had been 8 to 10 passengers per hour.
While ridership was low, people do use the fixed routes to go to work, the bank, the Casino and to shop. In the summer months, Batchelder says that some children would ride the fixed routes to visit friends. All these users, some of whom are on fixed incomes, will now be asked to use Dial-A-Ride to get around town. That costs more.
Dial-A-Ride costs the rider twice the fare charged for the fixed routes. Currently, fixed route passengers in the Bishop area pay $1.25 for adults. This will go to $2.50 and beyond for the Dial-A-Ride service. Batchelder says that ESTA staff realizes the increased cost will have, “a huge impact” but says that there are plans to help reduce costs to some riders with an additional system called Checkpoint Dial-A-Ride. Under this system, a Dial-A-Ride vehicle would show up at certain fixed points, like the shopping centers, and hospital, every hour on the hour during the week. The service buses would then be dropped off at their destinations for a dollar off the regular fare.
While the details on this new service are still a work in progress, the Checkpoint Dial-A-Ride will start on Monday September 13th. For more information on the changes and cuts to local transit, go to the Eastern Sierra Transit Authority website or call (800) 922-1930.