City Council increases time between stops, runs less buses on four routes through the city
By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN
VISALIA – The City of Visalia disagreed with a study suggesting it should join other cities in forming a single transit agency, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t use some of the report’s other suggestions.
At its Oct. 7 meeting, the Visalia City Council voted to implement route changes proposed by SBLB, LLC, a transportation consulting firm contracted by the Tulare County Association of Governments (TCAG) earlier this year. As part of its recommendation for consolidation, SBLB offered ways each transit agency could streamline its routes by increasing the time between stops and eliminating entire buses.
Christine Chavez, an analyst for Visalia Transit, said the study suggested increasing headways on four routes from every 30 minutes to every 45 minutes and in some cases from 60 minutes to 90 minutes.
Route 6, which connects east Visalia to the community of Goshen, will have a more streamlined route along Houston Avenue. Route 7, which loops through northwestern Visalia, will travel less down Riggin Avenue and more down Akers Street. Route 15, which runs along Mineral King Avenue from Main Street to Plaza Drive, will be extended north to Goshen Avenue and to the community of Goshen. Route 16, which connects Caldwell Avenue to Akers Street along Demaree, will now change course to running from Caldwell to Riggin along Demaree.
The changes would reduce the number of buses from 28 to 26 and eliminate trip times and locations where buses average less than five riders.
Councilmember Phil Cox asked if Visalia Transit also took the study’s recommendation to eliminate the last hour of service on every route, often the least used routes of the day.
Deputy City Manager Mario Cifuentez said the city had already audited its routes prior to that study and had already made the last hour adjustment.
Cox then motioned to approve the route changes. It was seconded by Vice Mayor Steve Nelsen and unanimously approved.
“Anytime we become more efficient it’s better for the city,” Councilmember Brian Poochigian said.
Chavez said the proposed route changes will no go to Ad-hoc Transit Advisory Committee before being implemented.