Lack of riders endangers funding for weekday service

The City of Taft is getting ready to eliminate Taft Area Transit's Saturday service because a lack of weekend riders is endangering funding for the weekday service that many elderly and handicapped users rely on.

The city has been trying for years to increase ridership on the federally-subsidized public transit program but has met with little success, and this will be the latest in a series of cuts.
In order to continue to receive federal money, the city is required to get 10 percent of the cost of operating it through rider fares.

Saturday services isn't coming close to getting that return, and the cost of it is endangering continued funding weekday service that many handicapped and seniors rely on for trips to the doctor and other essential travel.

Seniors and ADA riders receive a special reduced fare.

"Our number one priority is our ADA and seniors," City Manager Craig Jones said. "We want to focus on maintaining our core weekday service."

Saturday service is "nowhere near 10 percent farebox return," Jones said.

The City has tried programs to increase ridership, even experimenting with a fixed-rout service serving the city as well as unincorporated neighborhoods surrounding it, but it never caught on with the public.