Lodi Council looks at unmet transit needs
Sally St. John waited anxiously to address the Lodi City Council on Wednesday evening, to provide feedback on unmet transit needs in Lodi during a public hearing at Carnegie Forum.
The hearings are held each year to ensure that the San Joaquin County community’s transit needs are being fulfilled. The San Joaquin Council of Governments, which is the regional transportation planning agency, administers Transportation Development Act funds for local agencies within San Joaquin County.
TDA funds provide two major sources of transportation funding: the Local Transportation Fund and the State Transit Assistance Fund, before any leftover funds from the TDA are used for other projects like road repairs.
After suffering a stroke 12 years ago, St. John stopped driving, relying on public transit to complete her daily errands.
“There are a lot of unmet transit needs in Lodi,” St. John said.
St. John, who moved to
Lodi three years ago, said she has not been able to immerse herself in local government and the culture of the community, due to the lack of evening routes.
“There are a lot of things I would like to do here, like come to council meetings, there are events downtown and shows and entertainment at Hutchins Street Square, and I can get to it, but there are no buses available to get back home,” St. John said.
The city contracts with MV Transportation to run five fixed routes each weekday, and four routes on weekends. For these routes, a GrapeLine bus arrives at each stop about once an hour. Five express routes run on weekdays, with buses arriving at stops every 20 minutes.
In 2013, the City Council voted to extend the hours for bus routes after riders requested more evening service.
The department extended its hours to 9:15 p.m. on weekends and 7:15 p.m. on weekdays and Sunday service ends at 3 p.m. Fixed routes begin at 6:30 a.m. and the Express route hours were unchanged.
Despite the lack of later fares, she said a simple outing to the grocery store could take all day because she has to switch buses and wait in between routes.
Councilman Alan Nakanishi asked Lodi transportation manager Georgia Lantsberger why later routes were not available for residents trying to attend City Council meetings and special events.
Lantsberger said the city’s transit system was limited by both its staffing and its funding to add later routes.
Councilman Doug Kuehne, who serves on the SJCOG board, said there was potential to broach adding later routes and funding them with SJCOG if the city utilized the routes for special events.
Members of the community are encouraged to reach out to the Council of Governments for feedback or concerns, they take requests all year by mail or email. For more information, visit Residents do not need to wait for a public hearing to submit their requests for transportation services.