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Gas hike may lead to transport spike

Posted: February 24, 2012 1:30 a.m.
Updated: February 24, 2012 1:30 a.m.

Passengers exit a city of Santa Clarita Transit bus at the McBean Transfer Station in Valencia on Wednesday. The city is currently working on a plan for the future of its public transportation system.

 

Santa Clarita Valley public transit officials are bracing for more ridership on local and commuter bus lines as gas prices continue to spiral.

Meantime, the city of Santa Clarita has contracted with a firm to determine its public transportation needs into the next decade.

The $135,015 contract with Moore & Associates of Santa Clarita would update the city’s Transportation Development Plan to meet projected needs from 2013-2023. The current plan was approved in 2006.

Gas prices passed the $4-a-gallon mark in Southern California last week.

The lowest prices in the Santa Clarita Valley on Thursday were at Sam’s Club on the 26000 block of Carl Boyer Drive in Center Pointe, where a regular gallon of gas was $4.06.

The highest gas price was $4.29 a gallon at two separate locations in Canyon Country, according to GasBuddy.com, a website that tracks fuel prices across the nation.


Santa Clarita Transit Manager Adrian Aguilar said the number of people using public transportation tends to go up when gas prices increase.

He pointed to the same time period last year, when gas prices were on the rise and local ridership went up 18 percent and commuter lines also saw a 5-percent increase.

New technology
Besides the gas prices, Aguilar said bus ridership has been increasing for local riders and commuters for a variety of reasons.

About 20 percent to 30 percent of the average ridership is from students, who face limited bus service from school districts.

Some 220,000 trips were taken within the city in January, Aguilar said.

In addition, 42,870 trips were taken last month on commuter service lines, which leave the Santa Clarita Valley for popular employment areas, such as Warner Center and West Los Angeles.

The transit system has seen a large increase in the number of people traveling to North Hollywood, with about 18,000 to 20,000 trips each month.

Ridership is also up because of a shift in social consciousness as people try to be more “green,” or more environmentally aware, Aguilar said.

Improvements in technology that allow riders to track their buses through text messages and on their smartphones have also helped. The city has also been working to make senior citizens aware of the public transit system.

The city runs bus transportation throughout the Santa Clarita Valley.

Riders’ opinions

A few bus riders questioned Wednesday at the McBean Regional Transit Center — which will soon have a new park-and-ride lot — had their own ideas of what should be changed as far as public transportation goes in Santa Clarita Valley.

Others said public transportation is working fine for them.

One of the biggest needs appeared to be more buses, both within the Santa Clarita Valley and commuting outside the area.
Frank Bolio, a Canyon Country resident who commutes out of the Santa Clarita Valley to get to work, said that he would like to see more buses that traveled to the San Fernando Valley.

He used to take a bus to Sylmar, but now has to transfer at the Van Nuys government center.

“I think it’s fine, other than more buses through the (San Fernando) Valley,” Bolio said.

Tiree Najee, of Canyon Country, said he mainly takes public transportation because of gas prices, and he’s happy that the cost of a one-way trip is only $1.

Other systems charge more.
He goes to College of the Canyons and said he would like to see more buses running along his route so there would be a bus every 30 minutes instead of every hour.

“I see a lot of buses are overcrowded,” Najee said.

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