The Bus Line Service of Turlock is Judith Stanford's primary source of transportation. She rides the bus from her southeast Turlock home to her job on the northeast side of town three days a week and also depends on public transportation to travel to shopping destinations like Walmart off of Fulkerth and the stores along Countryside Drive. Stanford, and residents like her, were the primary focus of Thursday's public meetings held to solicit feedback on proposed major changes to Turlock's transit system.
The meetings were held at three different locations on Thursday — Stanislaus State, the Turlock Transit Center and City Hall — in an effort to reach bus riders and community members from all parts of town.
Stanford reviewed the two different routing options proposed by Nelson/Nygaard Consulting at the Turlock Transit Center on Thursday afternoon:
- Concept A, consisting of six routes connecting to the Turlock Regional Transit Center. Four routes would operate every 30 minutes and two routes would operate every 60 minutes. Downtown would be served by one 30-minute bi-directional route connecting to the Transit Center. Stanislaus State would be served by one 60-minute route. Retail and employment destinations along Countryside and Geer would be served every 30 minutes.
- Concept B, consisting of four routes that operate every 30 minutes and connect to the Turlock Regional Transit Center. A fifth route would operate every 60 minutes and operate along the northern, eastern and southern edges of the city. Downtown would be served by a 30-minute one-way loop. Stanislaus State would be served by two routes. Retail and employment destinations along Countryside and Geer would be served every 30 minutes.
Stanford said that she preferred Concept A because it includes a stop at the Turlock Flea Market on Johnson and East Avenue and for its cross-town route from Christoffersen to Linwood that does not force riders to transfer at the Transit Center.
She also suggested adding restrooms to major bus stops and having a more direct route to the hospital.
"You can always see more things that could be improved," said the life-long bus rider.
According to Nelson/Nygaard senior associate James Gamez, personal experiences and preferences like Stanford's were exactly what the consulting firm were hoping to receive during the public meetings.
For James Pegueros, who attended the evening meeting at City Hall, access to both the hospital and Turlock Imaging on Geer Road and Christoffersen Parkway were priorities.
Peter Gunnear said he prefers Concept B because it allows for two-directional travel from the same bus stop.
At the Stanislaus State meeting Gamez said representatives from the student body leadership requested direct service from the university to Countryside Drive — something that is not currently proposed in either of the two concepts.
"We're looking to take the best ideas from both these concepts and combine them to accommodate as many riders as possible," said Gamez.
All riders who attended Thursday's meetings were excited about the shortened route times and increased service on Saturdays that are part of both proposed concepts.
A peer review done by Nelson/Nygaard found that Turlock's bus system was in operation the fewest number of hours per day and week, compared to bus lines in Lodi, Porterville, San Luis Obispo and Vacaville.
BLAST recently extended its weekday service a full hour later, which was much-appreciated by Pegueros who said it offered more options for medical appointment times and for shopping and dining around town.
Although this round of public meetings are over, residents can still offer their input on the two concepts and other suggestions through an online survey that can be found at turlocktransit.com.
When a final draft proposed is prepared, another round of public meetings will be held before it goes before the City Council for approval sometime this spring.