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Bus ridership on the rise in Santa Clarita

Affordable form of public transportation sees steady increase in use over the last few years

Posted: December 25, 2009 10:07 p.m.
Updated: December 26, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
While sitting at the bus stop at the intersection of Valencia Boulevard and Magic Mountain Parkway, College of the Canyons student Sandra Castaneda bundled a knit scarf under her chin to shield her neck from the cold on a windy afternoon.

After leaving work she was ready to go home and get out of the cold.

“Waiting for the bus is only inconvenient if it’s raining or it’s really hot, or it’s windy,” Castaneda said before going back to reading a book she had open on her lap.  

More than ever before, Santa Clarita residents like Castaneda have been flocking to city buses. About 4.2 million used the city transit in fiscal year 2008-2009 — the city has never had more than 4 million riders, said Brendie Heter, an administrative analyst for the city’s transit department.

The number of riders has increased about 10 percent from last year when the city had about 3.8 million riders, Heter said.

According to city reports, a little less than 3 million riders rode the bus in 2001.

Castaneda, 20, said she has been riding the bus since she was in junior high. She pays $15 a month to ride and said she doesn’t have enough money to buy, let alone fuel, a car.

To kill time while he waited for his bus Tuesday afternoon, COC student Antonio Curiel meticulously rolled a cigarette in front of Santa Clarita Lanes. Curiel owns a pick-up truck but said he likes sitting outside and meeting new people on the bus.

“I like walking around and exploring,” Curiel said. “I get to be social and meet people on the bus.”

Curiel, 19, said the bus is only crowded in the morning when he leaves for class on the 7:40 bus toward COC. More than 16,000 people ride the bus each week, Heter said

Ron Roxas, who has worked as a city bus driver and instructor for about 10 years, says he has seen the number of people riding the bus increase substantially over the last few years.

Sometimes during the morning rush, when he’s driving people to work, there isn’t enough room for everyone to get a seat.

The busiest routes during the holiday season are the ones with stops at Valencia Town Center, Roxas said. Buses weren’t running on Christmas, he said.

“Riding the bus is a great value for a lot of people,” Roxas said. “It only costs a dollar to ride.”

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