GET Bus route change complaints persist

While regular riders seem to be adjusting, key stops for the homeless and mentally disabled were eliminated, and some organizations that support these two groups are struggling to adjust.

It's been a month and a half since Golden Empire Transit changed its bus routes.

While regular riders seem to be adjusting, key stops for the homeless and mentally disabled were eliminated, and some organizations that support these two groups are struggling to adjust.

The bus stops in front of the Bakersfield Homeless Center and BARC were both eliminated to streamline routes.

But, officials at both places say they've already had two close calls, that could have been avoided if GET didn't eliminate their stops.

"It has been very difficult for our families," said Louis Gill, Executive Director, Bakersfield Homeless Center.

One of the close calls was a multiple car accident last Wednesday in front of the Homeless Center. Witnesses said a passing vehicle struck two parked cars and a woman pulling out of the driveway after she made a donation.

"It was right next to the crosswalk," said Gill. That crosswalk is one many residents use now because their bus stop is no longer in front of the center. It's now four blocks away across East Truxtun Avenue.

"It's just one more example of how we have to control traffic on this road, and a bus stop in front of our facility only makes sense," said Gill.

The center said it's not only unsafe for residents, but now they're losing volunteers.

"They're no longer interested in walking through the neighborhood and coming and volunteering with our after-school program, so we're losing tutors," said Gill.

GET eliminated the stop to make the route faster. They say most people like it.

"We are getting fewer complaints. I think that for a large number of people the system is working really well," said Gina Hayden, Public Information Officer for GET Bus.

That large number of people doesn't include BARC, which helps the mentally challenged find work.

"It has changed the way they get to work," said Lisa Plank, V.P. of Community Education and Public Relations at BARC. "They now have to walk 3/10 of a mile from the new bus stop, crossing a busy intersection."

Some of their clients can't even make it to work on time, causing them to lose income.

On first day of the new routes, one client got lost and was missing for hours. "He became disoriented. The route was different," said Plank.

BARC wrote a letter to GET.

"We have not received a response from them yet to that letter," said Plank.

GET told 17 News they eliminated the stop at BARC because too few people were using it. They said there are no plans to reinstate either stop anytime soon.

"We really want to give the system time to work and see how it's affecting people and how many people are using which buses before we make any major changes," said Hayden.

GET said it plans to do a community survey in the spring to see how people like the new routes.

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