City Council approves changes to city bus service
College students, faculty and staff can now use Turlock buses free of charge, following action by Turlock City Council.
The Board approved expanding its free student ride policy to include students (not just from Stanislaus State but all colleges), faculty, and staff at their August 9 meeting. .
“…this is a huge step forward for the lifestyles of not only our students, but also our faculty, staff and administration. It is also very important to highlight the importance of community effort between Stanislaus State and the Turlock community as it creates a sense of community as a whole,” said Destiny Suarez, President of Associated Students Inc. .of Stanislaus State, during the Council meeting.
Suarez said ASI has reached out to gather information about student transportation needs. She said they learned that the demand for accessibility to public transportation since the university returned to in-person classes after COVID was just as great as it was before the pandemic.
The city had previously partnered with the State of Stanislaus for the University Passage Funding Agreement with ASI. In May 2021, this agreement was terminated in recognition of significant reductions in student ridership demand associated with pandemic-related campus closures.
Based on data collected from ASI from January to March 2022, city transit staff estimate a loss of approximately $10,000 per year due to reduced pass usage. spend 31 days on Token Transit following approval of free rides for students. According to City staff, this impact may be somewhat mitigated with the expected increase in non-university traffic over the course of the year, but this exact level of increase is unknown. Staff said the city has sufficient transit funding under the capital sub-program that could be transferred to cover any lost revenue.
Along with the student fare change, Turlock Transit Director Wayne York outlined a variety of fixed-route bus service changes that will be implemented on September 6.
Route 4 will be modified to allow direct service to the Turlock Library and Senior Center.
“We will modify (Route 4) to serve the library directly. This is a request that actually came out of the latest short-haul transit plan which, due to COVID and various other reasons, we have not been able to move forward as quickly as we would like. So we will now incorporate that into this change, serving the library and the Senior Center,” York said.
A brand new Route 7 will serve the west side of Turlock, including stops at the cinema on West Main and industrial complexes on Fransil Lane and the new Amazon warehouse on Fulkerth Road.
The City is also implementing an on-demand bus service available to all Turlock and Denair riders. It would be a separate service from the Dial-a-Ride service for Americans with Disabilities Act passengers. On-demand users can book a ride over the phone, through Turlock Transit’s website or mobile app. Fares for one-way ADA paratransit trips would remain at $1 per trip. On-demand service with discounted fares for seniors, K-6 students, and anyone traveling to Denair set at $2.50 each way. People using on-demand service near a fixed route, who are not eligible for a discount, would pay $5 each way. This premium pricing helps encourage use of the fixed route system. The City will also continue the Amtrak Shuttle Pilot launched in January, which offers on-demand rides to Denair Amtrak Station for $2.50 per person.
York asked Council to consider creating a transit pass program in the future. This type of program would create a criterion for certain people, such as low-income people or refugees, to receive a free bus pass. The City could distribute the passes or partner with local organizations such as the Salvation Army and/or the International Rescue Committee to run the program.
“Over the past six months to a year, I have received inquiries from individuals or groups within the community who have asked me, ‘What can the City do to help provide free passes to certain groups? We do not currently have the authority to offer this. So I bring it to Council tonight to ask if there is any desire to explore the development of a transit pass program,” York said.
For more information on Turlock Transit’s fixed route or on-demand bus service, visit turlocktransit.com.