Bus riders oppose proposed change to route - Champion Newspapers: News

Bus riders oppose proposed change to route

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Posted: Saturday, August 11, 2018 8:00 am

A Chino Hills man who six years ago began taking a bus from Chino to his office in downtown Los Angeles to cut down on driving costs and eliminate commuting stress is spearheading an effort to oppose the elimination of that bus stop.

Magdi Demian is leading a group of Foothill Transit Line 497 bus riders to reject the transit agency’s proposal to move the starting point of the bus route from Chino Park and Ride at the 71 Freeway and Chino Avenue to the Fairplex Park and Ride near the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in Pomona. The change, if approved, would close bus stops at Chino Park and Ride and at the City of Industry City Hall.

Of the approximate 150 riders who take the bus route each day, 64 belong to the organized group fighting the proposed change, Mr. Demian said.

Two years ago, a large number of Line 497 riders sent official complaints to Foothill Transit via phone calls, Mr. Demian said. The group signed petitions and attended public hearings that proposed eliminating the City of Industry stop, he said.

“Foothill Transit ignored our complaints and has now proposed options that are not advantageous to us,” Mr. Demian said.

Line 497 currently travels north from the Chino Park and Ride stop, west on the 60 Freeway, with a stop at the City of Industry, north on the 605 Freeway, then west on the 10 Freeway to downtown Los Angeles, with stops along the way at Cal State Los Angeles and USC Medical Center. The proposed route would begin at the Fairplex in Pomona and travel east on the 10 Freeway to downtown Los Angeles, with stops at Cal State Los Angeles and USC Medical Center. 

Mr. Demian said the proposed changes would add an extra 15 minutes to the bus riders’ commute each way because of the drive to the Fairplex. Foothill Transit planning staff, who have monitored the drive times using several different online apps, said it ranges between eight and 12 minutes.

Foothill Transit spokesperson Felicia Friesema said that Chino is not technically within the bus agency’s ridership area because the agency is a Los Angeles County-funded program. The Chino stop was added in 2005 when the agency determined there was enough ridership demand from the Inland Empire to create a stop at the edge of its service area, she said.

The Line 497 riders have proposed options as alternatives to Foothill Transit’s proposal:

●Eliminate the City of Industry stop, which Mr. Demian said ranges from no riders to 10 any given morning. Ms. Friesema said the total average daily boardings at the City of Industry stop is 90 to 95.

●Start Line 497 from either the Chino Transit Center on Sixth Street near Chino Avenue or at the Shoppes at Chino Hills on Grand Avenue and Peyton Drive.

●Start Line 497 from the Shoppes and eliminate the Chino Park and Ride stop.

●Start the bus route from either Chino Transit Center or the Shoppes, stop at the Chino Park and Ride, and take the 71 Freeway to the 10 Freeway, with a stop in West Covina on the way to downtown Los Angeles, a route that Mr. Demian claims would be only 35 minutes in the early morning. 

Foothill Transit staff members have met with bus riders of both the Chino and City of Industry stops three times each this summer to get feedback and answer questions about the proposal. The transit agency is also asking for emailed feedback by 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 20 to changes@foothilltransit.org. “Line 497 Changes” must be included in the subject line. Faxed comments will also be accepted at (626) 967-4608 with the same subject line.

A public hearing on the proposed change will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 18 at Foothill Transit’s administrative office, 100 S. Vincent Ave., second floor, West Covina. 

Ms. Friesema said no conclusions have yet been drawn from the meetings with bus riders because all the comments are not yet in. She said the Foothill Transit staff will make a recommendation to its board once the comments are completed.

The bus stop change will be heard by Foothill Transit’s board at its 8 a.m. Friday, Aug. 24 meeting at the West Covina office.

Chino Hills resident Cynthia Delda, who works in downtown Los Angeles, recently emailed the Chino Hills City Council, asking for their support to prevent the bus stop change. “Having a public transportation service from Chino Hills to downtown LA was one of the key factors as to why we chose to move and live in Chino Hills,” Ms. Delda said.

Pablo Schoeb of Chino Hills, who has been taking Line 497 to his office in downtown Los Angeles for about 18 months, also opposes the route change.

Among his beefs about the proposed change is that the new route would cause bus riders to drive to the Fairplex along the 71 and 10 freeways to get to the Fairplex. “The purpose of public transportation is to take people off the freeways,” he said.

Gabriel Aleman, who describes himself as a daily commuter on the bus line, recently sent an email to the Chino City Council, asking for their support in opposing the change. “Hundreds of college students, nurses, police officers, military veterans, seniors, disabled persons, and working professionals rely on this bus daily to commute to and from work, to and from doctor’s appointments, to visit family, etc.,” Mr. Aleman said. “It would be a huge loss if the service was to be discontinued.” 

During a May 25 meeting of the Foothill Transit Executive Board, the agency’s planning manager Josh Landis said the traffic congestion along the 497 Line route makes it one of the longest routes, with travel time typically two hours in one direction. He also said the line is one of the lowest performing of the agency’s “express” bus lines.

Mr. Landis told the board that challenges with the current Chino bus stop include limited parking at the Chino Park and Ride due to shared use with carpools and vanpools, and the travel time between the 60 Freeway and the Industry City Hall stop. He said the Fairplex’s parking facilities could accommodate the additional vehicles of the Line 497 bus riders.

Mr. Landis told the board the elimination of the Chino stop would have an annual cost savings of $340,000, which would be reinvested into other bus lines. 

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