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City to close bus routes

Riders’ needs and economic realities are in direct conflict for Santa Clarita Valley commuters

Posted: May 14, 2009 8:37 p.m.
Updated: May 15, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 

Maureen McCorkle is pretty sure that an upcoming change to the Santa Clarita Transit route is going to hurt her, rather than help her.

“I’m not sure how I’m going to get to work,” McCorkle said. “There’s going to be a lot of people who will lose their job if this bus route is cancelled.”

The bus route that McCorkle is worried about is route 798. The bus takes people between Santa Clarita and Van Nuys in the San Fernando Valley, Monday through Friday.

Santa Clarita Transit will slash 798 and several other routes servicing the San Fernando Valley beginning Aug. 1, said Darren Hernandez, city of Santa Clarita, deputy city manager. Routes 798, 793, 747, 504 and 503 will be discontinued because of low ridership that ranges between 30-40 riders per day, he said.

Route 8 will be discontinued Aug. 1, but low ridership isn’t the poison pill that will end the route’s run, Hernandez said. The route will be nixed because the money from federal grant that paid for the route expired, he said. It costs $490,000 annually to operate, Hernandez added.

A new route that city officials are calling the North Hollywood express route will replace the routes that run from Santa Clarita to the San Fernando Valley. This new bus route would take McCorkle and others to the North Hollywood Transit Center, about two miles south of her job. From the transit center, McCorkle would transfer to a Los Angeles Metro bus and ride back north to her job at the Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center in North Hills.

“I would be late to work every day,” she said. She currently arrives at the Medical Center at 6:30 a.m. for her job that begins at 7 a.m.

The new bus route won’t deliver McCorkle to North Hollywood until 7 a.m. Then, she would still have on more bus to catch, McCorkle said.

Hernandez said the decision to consolidate the routes comes down to money. Route 798 and route 793 cost the city a combined $435,000 to operate, he said. With the route ridership of between 30 daily riders, the route costs the city nearly $12,000 per rider to operate each year, he added.

“For the amount it costs to operate route 798, we could buy a new car for each rider every five years and pay the insurance on the car and the fuel,” he said.

Dollar amounts to run the route don’t matter to route 798 rider James Hogan.

Hogan is a wheelchair-bound veteran who served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. He is also legally blind, legally deaf and uses the assistance of a seeing-eye dog.

With his dog, Atticus, Hogan rides route 798 to the Veteran’s Association Medical Center in North Hills along with McCorkle for medical treatment. He has no objection to adding the new North Hollywood route. Hogan’s problem is eliminating route 798.

“The city is eliminating an option for people without many transportation options to begin with,” he said.

One such person is Tammy Waters. She rides the bus to her job in Van Nuys each day. Medical conditions also keep from behind the wheel.

“I can’t drive. I have seizures,” she said. “If I can’t go to work, I can’t pay my rent and I’m a single mom.”  

Hernandez realizes what the loss of route 798 and 793 means to the riders. However, economic realities outweigh the other factors, he said.

“We hate to inconvenience any of our passengers, but you have to question at a cost of $12,000 a rider per year whether that’s an efficient use of funds.”   

 

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