New GET bus routes benefit students

Daysi Meza, Reporter

In an effort to provide better service for the city of Bakersfield, the Golden Empire Transit District made significant changes to the bus schedules on Oct. 7.

GET officials said the changes are expected to benefit the Bakersfield community, especially college students.

The GET bus system has been planning these changes for two years, with the main goals of providing more frequent service along the busiest routes and to save the district about $1 million a year, which is about 4 percent of its budget, in order to be ready for future funding cuts.

Last year, GET conducted surveys to try to improve the bus service for the ridership at CSUB.  The results indicated that students wanted more express service, as well as weekend service.  Therefore, providing frequent, weekend and evening service was one of the top priorities in their list.

On one hand, some of the most beneficial changes consist of increasing the number of buses going to Bakersfield College and CSUB.

In the past, route 17 Express, which runs from Valley Plaza and downtown to BC, was only available until 6:30 pm., but now it is available at BC at 10:30 pm, as well as on the weekends until 6:30 pm.

“I like it! I live close to BC and I work at the mall, so now I only have to take the express to BC since it runs seven days a week,” said Austin Quinn, a BC student.

On the other hand, some people think that these changes have had an overall negative impact in their lives, as the new GET bus system has eliminated 376 individual stops, along with four routes, and it has cut services to areas with low ridership. Furthermore, with the new bus schedules everyone has been forced to relearn the new bus routes since now they do not have the same bus numbers, and the destinations are different.

Despite of the confusion the new system has caused among bus riders, most college students agree that the changes in the bus schedules have had an overall positive impact in their lives.

“For me, the bus changes are good because they run later and every half an hour.  It used to take me an hour and half to get home, but now it only takes me 45 minutes,” pointed out Randy Sarratt, another BC student.

The GET bus system had not made any significant changes since 1987, and Bakersfield has expanded, therefore administrators felt it was about time to make changes.

“We haven’t changed the routes for 25 years, and Bakersfield has changed,” said Gina Hayden, the marketing and business development manager.

“People need buses at different places, so it is our responsibility to provide a better and efficient service.

“In the past we have had a hub system: buses circled back into the bus station all the time. But now we have straightened out the routes, so people can get to their destinations more easily.”

The first few days, everyone was confused about the new bus numbers, routes and destinations, but now people are getting used to the changes.

“Obviously, when you make a change people are going to be confused, but now it is the third week and people seem to be understanding it,” said Hayden.

“We spent about two years working on this project and we found out that for about 70 percent of customers, the system works better.”