ESTA director comments on exact change fare

ESTAOn July 1, Eastern Sierra Transit bus drivers will no longer make change for passengers. Eastern Sierra Transit officials say the new policy is a necessary matter of efficiency. Others see it as a hardship for passengers.

John Helm, Director of Eastern Sierra Transit Authority, said that at their May meeting, the Transit Board addressed staff recommendations for exact-change fare. He said ESTA had noticed in the last year or so that passengers had begun paying in “extremely large bills – forcing drivers to stop and get change.” He said it appeared some may have been forcing a way to a free ride.  Helm also said that drivers were issued $200 to $300 in change, which required additional accounting.  The exact change method, he said, will be more efficient.

Helm said change will be made with tickets for future use. He said the tickets will be valued at $1, 25 cents and 10 cents. He said, “It is very rare for a transit organization to take other than exact change.” This policy goes into effect July 1st for all ESTA routes.

Selma Calnan of Bishop, who is a retired member of the state mandated Social Service Transit Advisory Council of Inyo-Mono, contacted Sierra Wave to say there was no advance notice of the policy which was passed unanimously by the board of the Eastern Sierra Transit Authority at their May meeting that was held in Mammoth Lakes. Calnan said, “With no advance notice there was not time for feed-back at their meeting and only two residents attended.”

Calnan said, “Such a draconian and stealthily enacted policy will be a hardship for the elderly, the handicapped, low income passengers and the drivers who have already been required to cope with a problem-riddled new dispatch system.”

Helm said that for change of $10 or more, the passenger can send in their ticket to be reimbursed with cash. He said ESTA may also set up the possibility to donate change to needy organizations for their transit.



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2 Responses to ESTA director comments on exact change fare

  1. Ken Warner June 26, 2013 at 10:01 am #

    I ride the Express Bus to Bishop and back to Mammoth. I also ride the Crest Bus to Reno and back to Mammoth. Carrying the cash to pay for the fairs is very inconvenient. I have to make a trip to the bank to make sure I have enough ones and twenties.

    On the other hand, I can see people gaming the system with large bills.

    All ESTA buses have radios that can communicate back to the office. I don’t see why fairs couldn’t be paid with a pre-paid debit card. Cabs in Reno all have electronic payment systems that let me use my debit card to pay. It aint that hard. You should be able to add money to your fair debit card in the bus simply by giving the driver the money and swiping the card through the card reader.

    The dispatch system of ESTA is a mess. It could be made a lot simpler to schedule pickups and pre-paid fairs. There is not a lot of imagination in the upper levels of ESTA management. They are slow to react. Here’s some examples:
    1) The Crest and Express bus leave from McDonald’s in Mammoth. There is no bus stop for the local ESTA connecting buses to stop at. The drivers have to stop across the street.
    2) The ESTA connecting bus that goes by McDonald’s is the Purple Line. It first stops at Vons until the half-hour — 7:30 am. The first Express bus to Bishop leaves McDonald’s at 7:35am. Its easy to miss the Express bus if there is a delay at Vons.
    3) The Crest bus to Reno has two serious flaws. There is no Wed. bus. It only runs Mon. Tue. Thur. Fri. Also the return bus to Mammoth leaves Reno at 1:50 pm and the bus from Mammoth doesn’t get to Reno until 12:00 am. That gives you less than two hours to do what ever business you have to do and get back to the Reno Airport — that’s the transfer station. If you can’t do your business in less than two hours — including cab rides to where ever you need to go and back — like a doctor or maybe Costco — then you have to stay over night somewhere. And if you need to go up on Tuesday, it’s a two night stay because there is no Wed. bus. And if you need to go up to Reno on Friday, it’s a three night stay.

    A little thought and imagination can fix these problems and in addition, make jobs.

    How many people go to Reno from Bishop/Mammoth or the rest of the Valley or the rest of Mono County? The bus can be made much more useful to all of us with just a little thought and imagination — which I see a profound lack of in the management of ESTA. How many of you would like a stop at the Carson City Costco with a pickup 2 or three hours later. That could be worked into the existing bus schedule. But no… can’t do that. It’s basically a 1970’s bus system. It can be a lot better.

    I’m available to consult on these issues for a big fat contract.

  2. ferdinand lopez June 26, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    sounds like you can imagine alot of ways to make the bus system work like a limo for you,imagine taking 2 seconds to dig in your couch for exact change


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