Modesto ponders adding $95K express bus for busy route

03/03/2014 5:09 PM

03/03/2014 5:27 PM

The buses on Route 21 are among Modesto Area Express’ busiest, carrying 50 passengers per hour compared with a systemwide average of 30 passengers.

But those buses frequently are late as they complete their loop from west Modesto to the downtown Transportation Center. That means passengers miss connecting buses and have to wait for the next bus, delaying their trips to school, work, the doctor and elsewhere.

The City Council today will consider adding an express bus to Route 21 along with several other improvements at an annual cost of $192,200. According to a city report, these improvements would take effect July 6 if approved by the council:

•  A Route 21 express bus, which would travel in the opposite direction of the route’s other buses, at a cost of $95,520. The express bus would stop only four times to pick up and drop off passengers along the roughly six-mile loop that includes Paradise Road, Sutter Avenue and Robertson and Carpenter roads. The other Route 21 buses stop as many as 30 times while completing the loop.
•  A revision to the schedule for Route 22, which links downtown with Vintage Faire Mall via McHenry and Standiford avenues, at a cost of $50,500.
•  Other scheduling improvements at a cost of $30,600 and adding bus service on Presidents Day at a cost of $15,600.

State funding would cover about 80 percent of the cost increases, with passenger fares making up the rest.

Modesto residents Jessie Martinez and Tanya Hill said an express bus is a great idea for Route 21. The two friends said they use a Route 21 bus three to four times a week for shopping, medical appointments and other business. Both said the bus is frequently late. Monday, they took the bus to pay their cellphone bills and to go shopping.

Modesto Transit Manager Fred Cavanah said MAX has tried less expensive solutions to improve Route 21’s service, but without success.

Cavanah said that on March 21, the council will consider fare hikes, such as increasing the MAX fare for an adult rider from $1.25 to $1.50 and the MAX fare for a senior from 60 cents to 75 cents. A fare increase from $2.50 to $3 is proposed for Modesto Area Dial-A-Ride, which provides transportation for seniors and people with disabilities, who make up 90 percent of its passengers.

The council will meet at 5:30 p.m. in the basement chambers of Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St.

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