Route Rage: BlueGO drivers question route changes
August 4, 2009
A petition drafted by BlueGO drivers following numerous routes changes is questioning the management of the organization.
Some of the items listed include eliminating unsafe bus stops, ceasing neighborhood routes and establishing east and west bound neighborhood service and removing, or censuring BlueGO Transit Administrator John Andoh.
“We’re not asking to fire anybody, we’re asking that some hear our voice,” Bus driver Gini Kluender-Higgins said. “If the current people who make the decisions are not interested in what is best for us, or in what we have to say, then yes, we want them replaced. They are not part of the solution.”
More emergency route changes might be on the horizon for BlueGO, which underwent major route changes in November.
Some of the routes that would be reduced include the express route between Gardnerville and Stateline, limited service to Carson City and combining rural flex routes.
Public hearings for these changes will be on Friday at the STATA Board meeting and on Aug. 18 at the South Lake Tahoe City Council meeting.
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These changes to the system, if approved, would take effect Aug. 23.
The route reductions are a result of the California budget, according to BlueGO fliers. South Tahoe Area Transit Authority, which oversees BlueGO will have reduced funding from the state due to the elimination of State Transit Assistance funds until 2013 starting this fiscal quarter.
Kluender-Higgins said she plans discussing the drivers’ concerns at the STATA meeting on Friday, as well as the South Lake Tahoe City Council meeting on Aug. 18.
BlueGO spokesman Dennis Oliver said BlueGO has undergone major transformations, and it takes time for everyone to get used to the changes. In November the system implemented route changes, fare structures and operator contracts.
“When you go through this much change, you’re going to see concerns,” Oliver said. “This is about the riders and we’re trying to create a coordinated transit system in South Lake Tahoe.”
Many of the routes listed in the petition, such as the Highway 50 routes and the neighborhood routes aren’t serving the riders needs, according to the petition.
“We feel the current routes and fares do not address the needs of this community. There are unsafe and redundant stops. Routes are designed to fail, putting undo stress on drivers,” Kluender-Higgins said. “We have constructive suggestions that can improve the safety and workability of transportation throughout the South Tahoe area. All we’re asking is that somebody listen to our concerns.
According to the petition, some bus stop signs are still posted that aren’t applicable. Other grievances include dangerous paths for riders and unsafe bus stops.
Oliver said BlueGO is addressing those concerns through its bus stop improvement plan, which is in the works.
The transit system is a participatory process, and Oliver said drivers and riders are encouraged to attend STATA meetings, or its Transit Advisory Committee meetings. STATA oversees the BlueGO system, and the next TAC meeting is Sept. 28.