The Imperial County Transportation Commission heard numerous concerns from the public regarding Valley public transportation Thursday during its annual Transportation Development Act Unmet Needs public hearing.
While many praised the existing bus services, the need to provide more bus services for Imperial Valley College students, particularly ones coming from Calexico, was a much-repeated sentiment during the hearing.
“Due to the lack of transportation, at times it renders the students tardy to their classes,” IVC Associated Student Government President Lisa Nichole Tylenda said. “It is important for students to have the means necessary in order to pursue a higher level of education, and one of the key variables in order to do so is having a way to get there.”
ASB Senator Manuel Reyes echoed her point, saying that students are sometimes dropped from classes or their grades suffer when they’re left behind due to bus overcrowding.
Other issues cited included alleged safety violations by drivers, and it was recommended that any perceived violation be reported as soon as possible to ICTC.
Brawley resident Lisa Bracamonte said public transportation was a “blessing” for her when she was attending IVC and now while she works two jobs in El Centro. While it hasn’t always been perfect, she felt her concerns were adequately addressed in the past.
“I count on these bus services because otherwise I don’t know how I’d get to and from where I need to go,” she said.
ICTC Commissioner George Nava thanked the speakers for their input since some of the commissioners don’t necessarily use public transit and rely on the public for insight.
Francisca Fierro of El Centro expressed her gratitude for the bus services, particularly after a car accident that put her son in a wheelchair for a year, and believes the bus fares are too cheap compared to other communities she’s lived in.
“No matter how poor people are, we can pay a little bit more to use the buses because the county doesn’t have enough money to provide more buses,” she said in Spanish.
El Centro resident JoAnna Garcia said she wasn’t aware of the hearing but is pretty satisfied with the bus service she uses about three times a week.
While waiting at a bus stop Thursday, Imperial resident Antonio Cortez said in Spanish that he would like to have restroom facilities near some of the bus stops, and Heber resident Josephina Cimentales said she’d like more seats on buses and for them to be on time since buses are often at least a half hour off schedule.
Maribel Mendez of the Day Out Adult Day Care Center also implored the commission to review and possibly provide some leniency with the cancellation policy since it’s often difficult to anticipate cancellation issues for elderly bus users.
The hearing is held at least annually to receive public input, ICTC Senior Transit Planner Kathi Williams said, and staff will take all the comments into consideration.
The commission will decide if solutions to concerns addressed are reasonable to meet, and if there’s budget revenue to allow for any changes. Most changes generally begin with the new fiscal year July 1.
In the past, it was after similar hearings that new routes, including the IVC Express as well as the blue and green lines, came as a result.
“Those were born out of unmet needs hearings years ago and operate to this day,” Williams said.
The ICTC Commission will reconvene at 5 p.m. Feb. 28.
Staff Writer Chelcey Adami can be reached at 760-337-3452 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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