Alvaro Trujillo and Eugenia Santoyo came to The Recorder office on Wednesday morning to express their concerns about a recent bit of news they had heard regarding changes to the Transit route they ride almost daily.
Trujillo explained through a friend, he had heard the Route 7, which is the route he rides, will be cut from the Transit list of routes by January.
“I don’t want bus Route 7 to be taken away from Transit because a lot of people need this bus a lot,” said Trujillo. “People need the bus to ride home. The people from the adult school need it too. My concern is for everybody. We need the buses to ride.”
From his understanding, Trujillo explained he was unsure of how he would get to and from his medical appointments if the route was to be eliminated.
Santoyo echoed Trujillo’s concerns, and fears she will have no mode of transportation once the route is stopped from servicing the community.
When asked about possible alternatives to transportation options for the route, both Trujillo and Santoyo said they had not heard of any plans to implement a different way to get them to where they needed to go.
After reaching out to Richard Tree, the manager for Porterville’s Transit system, he reassured that a different mode of transportation would be firmly in place before any routes are eliminated.
“Improving mobility within our community is one of our top priorities,” said Tree. “Every three to five years we take a look at how Porterville Transit services are performing, and make recommendations to improve the service. The 2018 Short Range Transit Plan provided several recommendations for service improvements in an effort to provide sustainable public transportation for the future. One of the recommendations was to eliminate low-productivity routes and route segments. Porterville Transit’s Phase 1 to the 2019 Service Changes will directly address these low-productivity routes (Routes 7 and 8) and route segments (Evening Service). Although Routes 7 and 8, and evening service after 9 p.m. will be eliminated, Porterville Transit’s new microtransit service, called Transport, will delivery mobility to our community in a new way.
“Transport is currently being designed to provide flexible and convenient transportation options, match demand and supply, improve efficiency, accessibility, mobility, and service area. With Transport, our community will have even greater flexibility to request a ride, through a mobile app or by calling our reservation line, and have the ability to determine when and where they want to ride. Riders can watch their vehicle live, receive notifications as it approaches, or even change or cancel their request.
“As we focus on improving Porterville Transit’s core fixed route services by reducing our service area and increasing frequency, new services such as Transport are designed to improve the rider experience for the whole community. Although there will be areas in our community that will no longer have fixed route service, Mayor (Martha) Flores and the City Council have made it a priority to continue to provide public transportation to our community, but in a more cost-effective way. Transport will supplement any changes to the fixed route system and will be available prior to any service changes come into effect. Fixed route service changes and the new Transport service are expected to take place by January 2020.”
In other words, yes, Route 7 will be eliminated, as well as Route 8 and some evening service hours, but Tree stated no one will be left without a mode of public transportation. The City and Transit also have stated they will make it a priority to implement the Transport program before cutting any routes, making sure the community will not be without public transportation at any time.