Turlock Librarian Diane Bartlett said that over the past year she’s lost regular library visitors and had long-time volunteers drop out — all because the City of Turlock eliminated the bus stop that used to be located in front of the library. Bartlett pleaded with representatives of Turlock Transit during a public meeting on Thursday to return some kind of bus service to the library.
“Our Friends (of the Turlock Library) are library advocates. Libraries are for all; if there isn’t a bus stop then it can’t be there for all because not everybody can afford transportation of their own,” said Bartlett.
The purpose of the Thursday meetings, held at both 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. at City Hall, was to gather public input on possible locations for a shuttle bus service pilot program.
“Last year we made some significant changes in January to routes, stops, schedules, operations, basically a brand-new system and it was received, by and large, very well by the community…a lot of the problems that plagued our system were resolved,” said Turlock’s Transportation Engineering and Transit Supervisor Wayne York.
“However, in the March community meetings that we held there were several things that folks brought up that were concerns. One of them was stops that were no longer being served. There were some places we weren’t able to get to with the current route system and then over the course of this past year there’s been new things that have popped up or people have an interest to go.”
York asked everyone in attendance at the meetings to list the two or three stops they’d most like to see a shuttle bus go to and the days and times of day they would most likely use the service.
“We’re trying to come up with something that meets the most needs,” said York.
Bartlett wasn’t alone in seeking a return of the Minaret Avenue bus stop that serviced the Turlock Library, the Senior Center, Sacred Heart Catholic School and eCademy Charter.
“I was really disappointed with them taking away that stop there because that was a really handy spot to visit the senior citizens center and the library,” said Peggy Gonzalez.
Gonzales said that she sometimes feels unsafe walking from the current closest stop to the library, on Canal Drive between Olive and Main, especially at night.
Along with the Turlock Library/Senior Center, another top shuttle bus stop suggestion was the Village Fresh shopping center on Canal Drive and Johnson Road.
“My seniors need the fresh fruits and vegetables and they have the ready-made food there,” said East Avenue Manor service coordinator Diana Cason.
Cason also said that the shopping center is perfectly located to serve the low-income seniors at the East Turlock apartment complex not only for groceries, but also veterinary care for service animals, salon services and the free WiFi available at Starbucks.
Turlock Irrigation District, Cost Less Market on West Main Street, Costco and the Ten Pin Fun Center were also potential shuttle bus stops suggested at the 6 p.m. Thursday meeting.
York and transit manager Scott Medeiros collected all the suggested stops and will use that information, along with suggestions sent to the City through letters and email, and come up with one or two draft concepts which will be presented to the public at two meetings scheduled on Feb. 21.
Although the plans have to go through the City’s bus consultant, new transit operator and the City Council, York said he hopes to have a shuttle bus service up and running by April.
Those who were unable to attend the meetings but still want their input considered can email firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Turlock Transit, 156 S. Broadway, Suite 150, Turlock, CA 95380. According to York, feedback provided during public transit meetings held in 2017 will also be considered.